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People Are Disturbed But Fascinated By This Video Showing A Smoker's Lungs

Healthy lungs vs. smoker's lungs.

Posted on May 3, 2018, at 4:20 p.m. ET

A viral video shared by a nurse from North Carolina is a perfect demonstration of why smoking is just a terrible idea.

In the video, two real pairs of human lungs are laying side by side. The ones on the right are healthy and pink, while the ones on the left belonged to someone who smoked a pack a day for 20 years. The habit left their lungs black, wrinkled, cancerous, and damaged due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung condition that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

In the video, each set of lungs is inflated and the differences are astounding.

The blackened lungs just can't hold on to the air like the healthy lungs, barely inflating then quickly deflating.

"They don’t stay inflated as long because those delicate tissues, they become hardened and they don’t work as intended," Dr. Alexander Prokhorov told BuzzFeed News.

"That’s why you see that decreased inflation and the increased time of staying inflated," said Prokhorov, a professor in the Department of Behavioral Science and the director of the Tobacco Outreach Program at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Prokhorov was not involved in the creation of the video, but it's something he's seen many times over his career. It's the well-documented effect of all the chemicals in cigarette smoke on the lungs.

"[Lungs are] supposed to be pink and spongy and elastic, but it loses all this as over 7,000 chemicals hit this organ hard and that’s how it loses the color, loses the elasticity," he said.

The video has been shared more than 500,000 times, with some people saying that if this video doesn't convince someone to quit, nothing will.

And if you are a smoker, it's not too late, said Prokhorov.

"There’s a misconception of, 'alright, I smoked for 10 years or 5 years so the damage is done, I can’t reverse it' — that’s not true," he said.

"Quitting is always good, there’s no doubt that you will have some health benefits if you quit."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.