How does/can smoking affect spinal disc problems, if it contributes? (ie: healing, causing higher risk of herniation, etc)

Smoking BAD! Smoking has been linked to increased pain patterns for patients who suffer from back and neck pain. Not only does it slow healing, the decreased blood flow pattern allows the chemicals of inflammation to bath the problem sites for longer periods of time and that results in more painful inflammation decreased function. You need to stop smoking for your general health and for your back. Good luck!
Slower healing. Smoking will cause vasoconstriction, or a narrowing of the blood vessels. This narrowing causes diminished blood flow to the areas of the body, which can result in slower and poorer healing. Best to stop smoking for improved health from many facets.