Image by Ralf Kunze from Pixabay 

Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases, and reduces the health of smokers in general. Quitting smoking lowers your risk for smoking-related diseases and can add years to your life.

Smoking and Death

Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is nearly one in five deaths. Smoking causes more deaths each year than the following causes combined:

  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Illegal drug use
  • Alcohol use
  • Motor vehicle injuries
  • Firearm-related incidents
  1. More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States.
  2. Smoking causes about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths. More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.
  3. Smoking causes about 80% (or 8 out of 10) of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  4. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of death from all causes in men and women.
  5. The risk of dying from cigarette smoking has increased over the last 50 years in the U.S.

Smoking and Increased Health Risks

Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.

Estimates show smoking increases the risk:

  • For coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
  • For stroke by 2 to 4 times
  • Of men developing lung cancer by 25 times
  • Of women developing lung cancer by 25.7 times

Smoking causes diminished overall health, increased absenteeism from work, and increased health care utilization and cost.

Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease

Smokers are at greater risk for diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease).

  • Smoking causes stroke and coronary heart disease, which are among the leading causes of death in the United States.
  • Even people who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day can have early signs of cardiovascular disease.
  • Smoking damages blood vessels and can make them thicken and grow narrower. This makes your heart beat faster and your blood pressure go up. Clots can also form.
  • A stroke occurs when:
    o A clot blocks the blood flow to part of your brain;
    o A blood vessel in or around your brain bursts.
  • Blockages caused by smoking can also reduce blood flow to your legs and skin.

Smoking and Respiratory Disease

Smoking can cause lung disease by damaging your airways and the small air sacs (alveoli) found in your lungs.

  • Lung diseases caused by smoking include COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
  • Cigarette smoking causes most cases of lung cancer.
  • If you have asthma, tobacco smoke can trigger an attack or make an attack worse.
  • Smokers are 12 to 13 times more likely to die from COPD than nonsmokers.

Smoking and Cancer

Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body:

  • Bladder
  • Blood (acute myeloid leukemia)
  • Cervix
  • Colon and rectum (colorectal)
  • Esophagus
  • Kidney and ureter
  • Larynx
  • Liver
  • Oropharynx (includes parts of the throat, tongue, soft palate, and tonsils)
  • Pancreas
  • Stomach
  • Trachea, bronchus, and lung

Smoking also increases the risk of dying from cancer and other diseases in cancer patients and survivors. If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the United States would not happen.

Smoking and Other Health Risks

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and affects a person’s overall health.

  • Smoking can make it harder for a woman to become pregnant. It can also affect her baby’s health before and after birth. Smoking increases risks for:
    o Preterm (early) delivery
    o Stillbirth (death of the baby before birth)
    o Low birth weight
    o Sudden infant death syndrome (known as SIDS or crib death)
    o Ectopic pregnancy
    o Orofacial clefts in infants
  • Smoking can also affect men’s sperm, which can reduce fertility and also increase the risks of birth defects and miscarriage.
  • Smoking can affect bone health: Women in past childbearing years who smoke have weaker bones than women who never smoked. They are also at greater risk for broken bones.
  • Smoking affects the health of your teeth and gums and can cause tooth loss.
  • Smoking can increase your risk for cataracts (clouding of the eye’s lens that makes it hard for you to see). It can also cause age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is damage to a small spot near the center of the retina, the part of the eye needed for central vision.
  • Smoking is a cause of type 2 diabetes mellitus and can make it harder to control. The risk of developing diabetes is 30–40% higher for active smokers than nonsmokers.
  • Smoking causes general adverse effects on the body, including inflammation and decreased immune function.
  • Smoking is a cause of rheumatoid arthritis.

Quitting and Reduced Risks

  • Quitting smoking cuts cardiovascular risks. Just 1 year after quitting smoking, your risk for a heart attack drops sharply.
  • Within 2 to 5 years after quitting smoking, your risk for stroke may reduce to about that of a nonsmoker’s.
  • If you quit smoking, your risks for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder drop by half within 5 years.
  • Ten years after you quit smoking, your risk for dying from lung cancer drops by half.
  • Smokeless tobacco is associated with many health problems. Using smokeless tobacco:
  • Can lead to nicotine addiction
  • Causes cancer of the mouth, esophagus (the passage that connects the throat to the stomach), and pancreas (a gland that helps with digestion and maintaining proper blood sugar levels)
  • Is associated with diseases of the mouth
  •  Can increase risks for early delivery and stillbirth when used during pregnancy
  • Can cause nicotine poisoning in children
  • May increase the risk of death from heart disease and stroke

Using smokeless products can cause serious health problems.

Protect your health; don’t start. If you do use them, quit.

Addiction to Smokeless Tobacco

  • Smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive.
  • Because young people who use smokeless tobacco can become addicted to nicotine, they may be more likely to also become cigarette smokers.

Smokeless Tobacco and Cancer:

  • Many smokeless tobacco products contain cancer-causing chemicals.
    o The most harmful chemicals are tobacco-specific nitrosamines, which form during the growing, curing, fermenting, and aging of tobacco. The amount of these chemicals varies by product.
    o The higher the levels of these chemicals, the greater the risk for cancer.
    o Other chemicals found in tobacco can also cause cancer. These include:
    1. A radioactive element (polonium-210) found in tobacco fertilizer
    2. Chemicals formed when tobacco is cured with heat (polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons—also known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)
    3. Harmful metals (arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, nickel, mercury)
  • Smokeless tobacco causes cancer of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas.
  • Smokeless Tobacco and Oral Disease
  • Smokeless tobacco can cause white or gray patches inside the mouth (leukoplakia) that can lead to cancer.
  • Smokeless tobacco can cause gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.

Reproductive and Developmental Risks

  • Using smokeless tobacco during pregnancy can increase the risk of early delivery and stillbirth.
  • Nicotine in smokeless tobacco products that are used during pregnancy can affect how a baby’s brain develops before birth.

Other Risks

  • Using smokeless tobacco increases the risk of death from heart disease and stroke.
  • Smokeless tobacco can cause nicotine poisoning in children.
  • Additional research is needed to examine the long-term effects of newer smokeless tobacco products, such as dissolvables. 

Solution

To curb the habits of smoking and chewing tobacco, the Government must completely ban the following:

  1. narcotics and production of cigarettes and tobacco products and their cultivation,
  2. manufacture of alcoholic drinks with immediate effect. The people who had been addicted so far must be advised to use de-addiction tablets and attend de-addiction camps and periodic medical check-ups.

About a few dozens of Video-on-wheels( VoW ) for each district can be deployed to spread awareness among the public on the ill effects of smoking, chewing tobacco, and drinking alcoholic content, by way of PowerPoint slide shows, dramas, slogans, and logo displays.

It will definitely be an eye-opener for awakening the people who have fallen addicted to such habits of smoking, chewing tobacco, and drinking alcoholic content. However long one has gone on the wrong path, it is always better to come back towards the path of goodness and well-being especially when it comes to one’s health for enabling oneself to support anyone and one’s family by dedicating to regular work or job and earn his or whole family’s livelihood.

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