There are several types of drugs that can be smoked but the commonest of them all is tobacco. Tobacco is legal in most countries and it is estimated that the world has more than one billion smokers (cdc.gov). With these high figures comes a hefty price. Health complications attributable to smoking account for an estimated 440,000 deaths in the United States annually! That is one in every five deaths reported in the country. According to the Center for disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco causes more deaths than HIV-related illnesses, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, murders, and suicides combined. Around the world cigarette smoking is responsible for more than five million deaths. These grim statistics tell only of the health effects of smoking. Smoking has other adverse social-economic effects to the individual, to the smoker’s immediate family, the society, the environment and to the country’s economy. This paper explores the dangers smoking in a bid to persuade smokers to desist from the habit through a proposed solution to the habit.
The Pie below shows the annual deaths that can be attributed to cigarette smoking
Smoking Prevalence and Lung Cancer Incidence, by Sex, Great Britain, 1948-2010
Cigarette has numerous adverse effects to the health of a smoker. Firstly, smoking doubles the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Nicotine- a substance contained in cigarette smoke gets quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and the brain in less than 30 seconds. Once in the brain, it increases the heart rate. Nicotine also reduces blood circulation by narrowing of the blood vessels around the body (Fisher & Berry, 17). This can lead to peripheral vascular disease or the obstruction of arteries in legs and arms. Nicotine is also highly addictive and it is the substance that makes it extremely hard for addicted smokers to quit the habit. Statistics show that if one smokes for a lifetime, their eventual death is likely to be related to smoking. Sadly enough, most of such deaths come in the middle ages.
Smoking also causes a variety of cancers. The tissues in the lungs are in direct contact with substances that result from burning tobacco. Some substances contained in tobacco smoke are carcinogenic and are responsible for triggering mouth. Uterine, kidney, bladder, liver, cervical, stomach and blood cancers (Leukemia) are some of the cancers that have been largely attributed to substances found in tobacco smoke (Fisher & Berry, 18). Cases of deaths from cancer are on the increase around the world because of changes in lifestyle in eating habits, lack of exercise among other aspects (Macnair). As such smoking could exacerbate cancer or even trigger early death in a cancer patient.
Diagram showing the lungs of a smoker (left) and those of a smoker (right)
Smoking also has adverse effects on pregnancy and the general health of women. It greatly increases the risk of miscarriages, stillbirths and premature deliveries besides being associated with low-weight births as it inhibits child development (Mitchell, et al 8). Some cases of infertility have also been attributed to smoking. Postmenopausal women who smoke have been shown to have lower bone density as compared to women who never smoke. Children born to mothers who smoke have also been shown to be at a higher risk to suffer from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) commonly called ‘cot death’. The children are also likely to have higher rates of respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, pneumonia and colds (Mitchell, et al, 8).
Smoking also causes early death. Evidence shows that young people who start smoking in between the ages of 11 to 15 years are three times more likely to die prematurely as compared to those who start smoking from the age of 20 years (Russell, 17). Moreover, smoking could diminish the health of non-smokers around him/her through secondhand smoking. It is sad and inhumane when a baby develops respiratory diseases attributable to its parent’s smoking habits!
Smoking has adverse economic effects on the smoker, his/her immediate family and the country’s economy by extension. Smokers spend vast amounts of their income funding the habit which at times goes unnoticed. The average cost of a pack of cigarettes is $4. If someone smoked a pack per day, in one year s/he would have spent $1500 on cigarettes! This amount is besides the amount of money spent on mints and gums that the smoker chews to disguise the tobacco odors (Fisher & Berry, 19). This money could be put to better use by the individual on something decent like a small vacation.
Diseases attributable to smoking are expensive to treat and could drain a family off its life savings. Most of those diseases are terminal cancers which require expensive treatment procedures such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The affected person is rendered economically unproductive and becomes reliant on family members. This dents the family’s financial fortunes and by extension hurts a country’s economy. The government also spends vast amounts of money in treating cancer and other terminal diseases (Russell, 20). The money spent by the government on vast equipment, staff and medical research could be used to improve the livelihoods by enhancing the health of its citizens.
Smoking has several adverse social effects. Substance contained in cigarette smoke cause bad breadth which turns people off. Some smokers revert to chewing mints or gum to overcome the odor. Chewing gum especially in formal settings is turn-off especially when done by adults. Tar contained in tobacco smoke also causes the browning of teeth or trigger the falling off of teeth in the long term. People with brown teeth feel ashamed to smile or laugh in public and this affects their self esteem. Smoking could also result in bad smell from the smoker’s body causing disgust to those near the smoker. Smokers could therefore be subjects of ridicule which further dents their self-confidence (Macnair). Smoking could also lead to strains within the family unit as a spouse or child may be completely against the smoking of a family member.
In light of these dangers of smoking it is imperative that smokers do all that is within their means to quit from the habit. One of the most effective methods is to join a supportive smoking-cessation service where the therapists recommend counseling and medication as suitable therapeutic methods. According to Russell, the chances of quitting when one is in such as group could be as high as one in three as compared to a 3% chance when one tries to quit smoking when alone (5). When in a group an individual could engage in more pastime indoor and outdoor games thereby spending more time off the thoughts of smoking. When smokers share their challenges in overcoming smoking, each of them feels encouraged and their resolve to quit smoking is enhanced. Moreover, the presence of a counselor and a nutritionist enhances the success rate of quit plans. It is imperative that smokers take multi-vitamins to replenish the body with deleted nutrients and restore appetite thereby promoting sustainable health in the recovering smokers. The achievement of full recovery from smoking calls for a multi-faceted approach to the habit and it is best achieved when one is in a team.
Cigarette smoking has several adverse effects in the health effects of the smoker and those around him/her as well as on their social-economic status. It is a leading cause of death in the world responsible for several types of cancers such as lung, mouth, throat, stomach, cervical and blood cancer. Smoking is addictive and badly hurts the financial status of the smoker, the family and the government through purchase of the cigarettes and also the treatment of smoking-related diseases. Besides the health and economic effects, smoking has adverse social effects. Family members of a smoker may disapprove of a smoker’s habit which could result in strains and break-ups. Health effects such as browning or falling off of teeth reduces the self-confidence of the smoker and s/he could be subject of ridicule and discrimination. In light of these adverse effects it is imperative that all smokers seek ways and means to end this destructive habit. The most effective way to help smokers stop the habit is for them to get into proper-smoking cessation groups with professional counselors and nutritionists to offer assistance.
"CDC - Fact Sheet - Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking - Smoking & Tobacco Use." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Apr. 2013.
Fisher George John & Berry, Elmer. The Physical effects of smoking: Preliminary Experimental studies. BiblioBazaar, 2012. Print
Macnair, Patricia. "Smoking – health risks." NetDoctor.co.uk - The UK's leading independent health website. N.p., 11 Feb. 2011. Web. 4 Apr. 2013.
Mitchell, B, et al., “Tobacco Use and Cessation: The Adverse Health Effects of Tobacco and Tobacco-Related Products,” Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice 26(3):463-98, September 1999. Print
Russell, MA, “The nicotine addiction trap: A 40 year sentence for four cigarettes,” British Journal of Addiction 85(2):293-300, February 1990.