Smoking causes around 40000 premature deaths yearly in USA and 4.9 million deaths per year world or 8.8 percent of all global deaths (burns 2013). 4000 teens try to smoke for the first time each day. 1000 teen become daily smokers. Smoking is equivalent to poisoning. Tobacco is a deadly mix of more than 7000 chemicals (burns 2013). Death due to smoking is highly preventable. The causes and impacts of smoking are known and avoidable. Smoking is not illegal in most countries around the world. However, its effects are even worse than some illegal substances. Given these alarming statistics, researches worldwide are investigating the causes of smoking, the results of smoking and, the possible methods of encouraging the cessation of smoking.
Types of smoking
There is active smoking and passive smoking. Active smoking occurs when one is willingly exposed to cigarette smoke. This involves use of cigarette, cigars or biddies for smoking and actively inhaling smoke into one’s body. This is usually seen in persons who smoke at least one cigarette a day. Passive smoking involves inhaling smoke that has been exhaled by smokers by being next to the smokers. They are still exposed to the same risk as active smokers but the damage is usually at a slower rate.
Causes of smoking
People start smoking for various reasons. Among them is socialization. During social gatherings with their friends or family one may feel the need to smoke in order to blend in and relate with the others. Teenagers may feel the need to start smoking in order to be considered fearless and ‘cool’ before their peers while they are hanging out. The teenagers who smoke may be considered more popular hence; making the others who don’t smoke wants to start. Peer influence is also a key factor. If one has a friend who starts smoking they may start smoking too because their friends are doing it. Teenagers are most likely to this influence because they are at that critical changeover between childhood and adulthood. They may want to make decisions on their own without involving their parents hence the wrong choices. Research shows most people who did not start smoking in their teenage years up to age 25 will most likely never smoke. Some teenagers do it out of rebellion. In the spirit of rebelling against authority and parents, they resort to smoking. There are teenagers who also begin smoking because of the influence of parents, guardians or older siblings who smoke. Research shows most people whose parents, guardians or older siblings smoke are likely to pick up on the habit. The influence of media can also not be ignored. Teenagers watching, movies with the starters being smokers may feel the need to start smoking too.
Addiction is another factor. Cigarettes contain substances that calm the nerves and help one not to be anxious. Those who start smoking will continue doing it because it relieves stress. Some smoke in order to keep awake. Tobacco also contains very addictive substances-nicotine to be precise; once one starts it is hard to stop.
Effects of smoking on the cardiovascular system
The smoke inhaled by smokers has chemicals that cause damage to the lining of blood vessels causing the blood vessels to swell and block. The person may then be prone to stroke, heart attack and other vascular diseases. Blood vessels could rupture leading to massive hemorrhage and death, especially if it is in the abdomen area. Smoking also leads to vascular injuries leading to arteritis. Heavy cigarette smoking can cause gangrene that could lead to amputation. Most vascular diseases are dangerous since they are chronic and life threatening. In addition, most of these diseases cannot be cured they can only be prevented.
Smoking and cancer
Smoking is the most important etiological factor for lung cancer. Lung cancer accounts for 30% of deaths due to cancer. About 80% of lung cancers occur in active smokers. Cigarette smoke contains substances that promote the development of tumors. Exposure of lung tissue to these injurious agents leads to malignant transformation. Smoking also exposes one to other types of cancers such as oral, laryngeal, skin and stomach cancer. Smoking also exposes one to developing peptic ulcers disease and gastritis all of with have the probability of malignant transformation into gastric carcinoma and carcinoma of esophagus.
Smoking and pregnancy
Smoking greatly reduces fertility levels in both men and women. In women it affects reproductive hormone levels thus interfering with their reproductive systems. Men who smoke have a lower sperm count than non-smokers. Smoking also affects sperm motility interfering with fertilization. Lastly smoking damages DNA leading to birth defects and miscarriages. Smoking is very harmful for the unborn baby. Tobacco contains dangerous chemicals including nicotine and carbon monoxide. When this substances are in a pregnant mother’s blood stream they are transmitted to fetal circulation via the placenta. The fetus which depends on maternal blood will have less oxygen and also be exposed to other toxins introduced to the blood stream via smoking.
This leads to common birth complications which are stillbirth, low birth weight and premature birth. Babies born of smoking mothers are more likely to weigh less than their counterparts of non-smoking mothers. Their organs are usually smaller. They have poor function of the lung because of damage from noxious agents in tobacco. They are also likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome. The babies also have weakened immunity and are more likely to suffer from inflammatory conditions. Smoking could cause the placenta to detach from the uterus prematurely leading to premature birth, acute respiratory distress syndrome and death.
Stopping of smoking
Stopping of smoking requires commitment and willingness. Smoking causes chronic addiction that could require repeated interventions over many years. There are various methods that can be used to rehabilitate addicted persons. Mental preparation: the person has to be willing and ready to quit. The person also has to have a strong support system to enable them transition. It is important to pick a quit date; decide on a day to quit smoking. Inform friends and family of intention to quit smoking so that they can support you. The circle of friends also has to change in order not to be tempted. Joining a support group in the locality or a website will support and help with the sticking to the decision.
Finding a temporary distraction in order to avoid falling into temptation is useful. Nicotine replacement therapy is helpful in managing cravings. This includes gum, inhalers, lozenges, patch containing controlled amounts of nicotine to help manage the cravings. Other distractions could be chewing gum, eating candy, eating celery sticks in order to keep the mouth busy and ward off temptation. Keeping generally busy and avoiding to be idle is helpful. Start a hobby, like going to the gym, filling crossword puzzles, reading books or listening to music.
There various medication therapies for those who have quit smoking. These medical therapies are either antidepressant and make it easier to quit smoking or they take away the craving to smoke. However, medical therapies are only for short term use.
The government also has a role in stopping the tobacco menace. It can impose high taxes on tobacco products in order to discourage production. The manufacturers can also be required by law to warn the consumers of the harmful effects of smoking. This can be through television advertisements and billboards. The cigarette pack should also bear warnings in large print warning users of the danger they expose themselves to by smoking. In extreme cases the governments can completely ban use and sale of tobacco and tobacco products.
Impacts of quitting smoking
As much as one may be willing and ready to quit smoking, the body is already addicted to smoking the changes can take a toll on the body. Anxiety is one of the earliest signs a few hours after one has given up smoking. By day three most people are irritable, angry and frustrated and this is coupled by depression, insomnia and difficulty in concentrating. These effects may last for two to four weeks depending on dependency level. The person may be given medication to help manage the symptoms. Within some minutes of quitting smoking the heart rate blood pressure and body temperature usually return to normal. Within eight hours the nicotine in the blood usually drops to large percentage. After one month the nicotine level in the body will almost be negligible. Within 2 months chronic coughing would have stopped. Chances of chronic lung or heart decrease as time goes by. Some people who quit smoking experience weight gain. This is because nicotine reduces appetite and speeds up metabolism so generally smokers weigh less than non smokers. This can be countered by exercising regularly as a way of keeping fit.
There are varying reasons for why people smoke and continue to smoke. To some it’s just a habit that won’t die Tobacco remains the only legal consumer product that is lethal when used as intended. It causes serious damage to practically every organ in the body, but is particularly harmful to the lungs and the cardiovascular system. No matter how old a person is or how long he has been smoking, quitting can help people live longer and be healthier.
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