Research has found a link between smoking and low back pain in adults and teenagers alike. Smoking decreases blood flow and depletes the delivery of oxygen to the muscles, nerves and tissues, Gotlin explains. So the muscles are in constant damage-repair mode, which, in turn, makes the back vulnerable to injury. Plus, smoking creates free radicals, unstable molecules that damage cells and cause inflammation. All of these changes can accelerate the degeneration of the discs, making it harder for your back to maintain good shock absorption. Another eye-opener: There are a growing number of surgeons who are holding off on doing surgery until people are smoke-free, Alpiner says, because smoking slows healing, too. So kick those butts now, for your back’s sake, as well as your overall health. All sorts of aid from smoking-cessation support groups and antidepressants to nicotine patches, gums, inhalers and nasal sprays can make breaking the habit a little easier.