Smoking is one of the most preventable sources of sickness and early death throughout the world. Although the percentage of people smoking has dropped considerably in the United States, it’s still a serious problem with far reaching effects. The following information discusses a variety of issues related to smoking and smoking facts.
According to the American Lung Association, smoke from cigarettes contains over 7,000 different chemicals. Approximately 69 are known to cause cancer. Two specific chemicals in cigarettes include cyanide and lead. Smoking-Facts.net reports that diseases related to smoking costs the United States more than $150 billion each year. It’s estimated that 480,000 people die each year from cigarette smoking as well as exposure to secondhand smoke.
It’s interesting to note that thousands of years ago people actually believed that tobacco had medicinal value. In the 1500s, Jean Nicot, a French ambassador, brought tobacco to Portugal. He is reported to have said that nicotine would help cure various wounds and cancer. Our current word nicotine is derived from his last name. Throughout the 1600s and 1700s tobacco was such an important crop for the American colonies that tobacco leaves could sometimes be used in place of money. Today, the facts on smoking clearly indicate that tobacco and cigarette smoking is responsible for a host of diseases and medical ailments.
Health Related Issues
After years of studies and research we now know that cigarette smoking can damage one’s health considerably. Facts on smoking have shown that there is an extensive list of diseases and health ailments directly caused by or related to smoking. Just within the category of cancer, there are over a dozen cancers that can be caused by cigarette smoking. A few of these include cancer of the nose, throat, mouth, esophagus, liver, lungs, and stomach. Smoking also contributes to high blood pressure, damage to arteries, and heart attacks. Smoking can age a person’s skin, causing wrinkles to occur earlier than usual. Only prolonged exposure to the sun is more damaging to the skin than smoking. There’s even evidence that smoking can decrease bone density. This could lead to osteoporosis in both men and women. Smoking can also weaken a person’s immune system, leading an individual to have more types of sickness and infection, especially respiratory infections.
Smoking During Pregnancy
The CDC reports that smoking during pregnancy can severely affect the health of the unborn baby. Smoking can contribute to low birth weight, premature birth, and even stillbirth. These conditions may be caused due to the lack of oxygen a baby receives when the mother smokes. The carbon monoxide and nicotine in the cigarettes work in different ways to reduce the amount of oxygen a baby receives. Nicotine narrows blood vessels, even the ones in the umbilical cord. A woman should seriously consider quitting smoking before even trying to conceive. Smoking can increase infertility in both men and women. Considering all the smoking facts we now understand regarding pregnancy and an unborn child, it is highly recommended that women quit smoking as soon as they find out they’re pregnant.
Peer Pressure and Smoking
According to research conducted at the University of Southern California, peer pressure to smoke is greater among students during middle school than in high school. The study involved 1,000 teenagers who were questioned beginning in seventh grade. There has also been some research done to determine the correlations between bullying and smoking. An Ontario Student Drug Use Survey found that females who smoked were more likely to be both bullies and victims of bullying. Significant statistical differences, however, were not found for males.
There are several reasons why teenage smoking is a serious issue. For starters, approximately 90 percent of smokers begin before age 21. If teens can be convinced not to light up in the first place it would significantly lower the amount of people who ever take up smoking. Since teenagers’ bodies are still developing, the health consequences from smoking may affect them even more than adults. It should also be noted that according to Dosomething.org, teenagers who smoke are more likely to suffer from anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and depression. They go on to say that the lungs of teenagers who smoke don’t develop fully. This puts them at greater risk for a variety of lung ailments. The good news, however, is that teen smoking is at its lowest point in over twenty years. A report by the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System stated that the number of high school students who smoke has fallen below 16 percent.
The danger of secondhand smoke has been reduced greatly due to laws that now prohibit smoking in most public places. It does still occur in homes and some work environments. Secondhand smoking facts have shown that an attempt to separate smokers from non-smokers in an environment that shares the same air space simply doesn’t work. The American Lung Association states that parents’ secondhand smoke is related to a variety of health problems in children. Being exposed to secondhand smoke can exacerbate conditions such as asthma and even increase the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome. It can also cause more colds and ear infections in children. It’s estimated that approximately 3,000 nonsmokers die of diseases related to secondhand smoke each year. Facts about smoking have shown that smoking is not only dangerous for those who light up but for those around them, especially small children.
According to the American Cancer Society, nicotine can be as addictive as cocaine or heroin. People can become both physically and emotionally addicted to nicotine. The actual act of smoking is an enjoyable experience for smokers, but an addiction to nicotine goes deeper than this. Nicotine acts as a depressant that can interfere with the transfer of information between certain nerve cells. For individuals that are addicted to smoking, going for an extended period of time without a cigarette can make them edgy and irritable. This makes it very difficult to quit smoking, but not impossible. Withdrawal symptoms from not smoking can include anxiety, irritability, sleep disturbances, headaches, weight gain, and constipation.
There are several methods and techniques used when trying to quit smoking. What works for one individual may or may not be the best approach for another. Whatever method a person chooses to use to stop smoking there are some general guidelines to follow to make it easier. Telling friends, family members, and coworkers can give a person motivation and provide extra support when quitting. Making a plan ahead of time to fight cravings can also help. This may include staying away from trigger situations or certain environments where a person has always smoked. Planning an enjoyable activity to do in place of smoking may be effective. Even something as simple as chewing gum or mints in place of a cigarette may help some individuals resist the urge to light up. There are several medical methods to use when trying to stop smoking. Some of the most popular include nicotine replacement therapies. These methods can include patches, gums, and certain medications. There are, however, sometimes side-effects when using these therapies.