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Feb 4, 2008

About Smoking

SMOKING: Its Origin

The tobacco plant, scientifically known as Nicotiana tabacum, is a plant grown for its leaves, which are smoked, chewed, or sniffed for a variety of effects. Tobacco is considered addicting because it contains the chemical nicotine. Sniffing and chewing tobacco originated in North America and Europe. It was Christopher Columbus who introduced tobacco into Europe. It then became very popular with the Portugese, Spanish, French, British, and Scandinavians.
Why is cigarette smoking dangerous?

In 1960’s, medical research on tobacco showed smoking to be strongly linked to heart and lung diseases. Smoking may be even more dangerous now than 30 years ago because the lower levels of tar and nicotine in cigarette brands make smokers inhale more deeply. In the US . . . .
  • Only 42 of male lifelong smokers reach the age of 73 compared to 78% of non-smokers
  • 25.7% of the adult population (47 million people) continue to smoke despite repeated warnings on the hazards of cigarette smoking. 28% of the male population and 23% of women smoke
  • Despite the known dangers of smoking, television, radio, and print ads continue to promote a number of cigarette brands

What are the chemicals in tobacco smoke?

Tobacco contains nicotine, as well as tar. Both substances get deposited in the bronchi and the lungs. The other chemicals found in tobacco are:

  1. Acetone
  2. Ammonia
  3. Carbon Monoxide
  4. Carbon Dioxide
  5. Hydrogen Cyanide
  6. Methane
  7. Benzopyrene

These chemicals are the major factors responsible for smoking related diseases like coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, stroke, emphysema, acute bronchitis and cancers of the nose, pharynx, larynx (voice box), and lungs

What are the effects of nicotine on the body?

Nicotine gives the so-called “positive effects” which include:

  1. Enhancement of memory and alertness
  2. Improvement of skills and work performance
  3. Alteration of mood, reduced stress, improvement in “sociability” and even euphoria

However, these effects are fleeting and are far outweighted by negative effects. These include:

  1. Shortness of breath
  2. Chronic cough
  3. Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  4. “Ulcer-like” stomach pains (hunger pains), nausea and diarrhea
  5. Reduction of fertility
  6. Early onset of menopause in women
  7. Tremors, especially in the inexperienced user
  8. Sweating with the smell of nicotine

Others related to gastro-intestinal effects:

  1. Appetite suppression specifically for simple carbohydrates (sweets)
  2. Inability to taste food
  3. Decreased efficiency of food digestion and metabolism

What is second-hand smoke?

Second-hand smoke is smoke exhaled by a smoker and inhaled by other people. Non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke are more at risk because the particles in the exhaled smoke are smaller. They reach deeper into the lungs of the passive smokers.

The unfortunate non-smoker exposed regularly to second-hand smoke, is prone to specific health risks which include:

  1. Increased risk of heart disease
  2. Increased risk of lung cancer
  3. Increase frequency of respiratory infections and asthmatic bronchitis in infants and children
  4. Chronic irritation of the eyes, nose and throat especially among children

What are the long-term effects of cigarette smoking?

Long-term smoking can contribute significantly to the acceleration of the following health problems:

  1. Nicotine addiction
  2. Coronary artery disease – at least 20% of deaths are smoking-related
  3. Heart disease - Smokers in their 30s and 40s have a heart attack rate that is five times their non-smoking peers
  4. Hardening of the arteries and complication of blocked arteries, hypertension, blood clots
  5. Stoke – People who smoke a pack a day have almost two and a half times the risk of getting a stroke
  6. Peptic ulcer disease
  7. Lung diseases – chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema; smoking caused nearly 85,000 deaths in 1990 due to these diseases.
  8. Cancers – oral, especially of the respiratory tract and the oral cavity, nose, pharynx, larynx, lung, cervical, urinary bladder, kidney, and pancreas; smoking accounts for 85% of all lung cancers
  9. Disease of the oral cavity, e.g., irritation and infection of the gums and teeth
  10. Delayed wound healing

Smoking can cause the following problems in women:

  1. Reproductive disturbances (such as, infertility)
  2. Problems during pregnancy include:
    a. Fetal abnormalities and even death
    b. Low-birth weight infants

Why is very hard to quit smoking?

Withdrawal is a difficult process. About 70% of smokers want to quit. In one study of women smokers who wanted to quit, 80% of them were unable to. This is because nicotine increases the activity of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that elicits pleasurable sensations. Even after years of non-smoking, about 20% of ex-smokers still have occasional cravings for cigarettes.

What are the signs and symptoms of nicotine withdrawal?

Withdrawal symptoms begin as soon as 4 hours after one decides to quit smoking or after the last cigarette, generally peak in intensity at three to five days, and disappear after two weeks. These symptoms start with headache, anxiety, irritability, tremors, poor concentration, and hunger pains. Other signs and symptoms include insomnia and depression, sweating, constipation and diarrhea.

What are the benefits of quitting smoking?

Chronologically, these are the benefits when one decides to quit smoking:

1. Within 20 minutes, the blood pressure and pulse rate drop to normal, the body temperature of the hands and feet returns to normal.
2. Within 8 hours, the carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal and the oxygen level I blood increases to normal.
3. Within 24 hours, the risk of a sudden heart attack decreases.
4. Within 48 hours, the nerve endings begin to regenerate and a person’s ability to smell and taste begins to return to normal.
5. Within 2 weeks to 3 months, blood circulation improves and lung function increases up to 30%.
6. Within 1 to 9 months, overall energy increases, signs and symptoms of coughing, nasal congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath are markedly reduced. Natural cleansing mechanisms of the respiratory tract returns to normal, so that the body is able to handle mucus, clean the respiratory tract, and prevent respiratory infections.
7. Within 1 year, risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by 50%.
8. Within 5 years, the risk of dying from lung cancer is reduced by 50%. The risk of cancer of the mouth is half that of a tobacco user.
9. Within 10 years, the risk of dying lung cancer, stroke and heart attack is the same as that of a non-smoker’s.

When is the best time to quit smoking?
The sooner a smoker quits smoking, the better. It is never too late to quit. No one is too old too quit. Because the first two weeks are critical success, smokers should seek all the help they can during this period.

Here is a tip to help smoker decide when to quit smoking:

A smoker should choose a particular date to quit when his level of stress is lowest.

Example: Women should not start during the premenstrual period when stress is high.

What are ways to quit smoking?

  1. Scheduled reduction – the process of slowly reducing the number of cigarettes per day until one has stopped completely.
  2. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) – a smoker who stops smoking is given small amounts of nicotine over a period of six weeks or more to reduce withdrawal signs. The nicotine is given either as chewing gum. patch, nasal spray or cigarette-like inhaler. Consult your physician about NRT.
  3. Totally quitting smoking without any outside help.

What should smokers do while they are quitting?

  1. Exercise. Take deep breaths, dance, run, wall jump up and down, stretch.
  2. Drink plenty of water and eat fruits and vegetables. Take plenty of vitamins and minerals. Carrots, apples, singkamas, chewing gum, and candies are good munching foods to replace the feel of a cigarette in the mouth.
  3. Take naps, warm baths or showers during intensive cravings to smoke.
  4. Tell friends and family that you have stopped smoking. This will make you feel embarrassed when they catch you smoking.
  5. Change activities or habits that are associated with smoking. For instance, find other ways to finish a meal without smoking. Go out for a walk, go to a place where smoking is prohibited, doodle instead of smoking while talking on the phone.

Advice to smokers:

While is was once a fad to smoke, it has now become dangerous to health. Smoking is abnormal. It is very addicting and very hard to stop. Smoking not only affects other people who inhaled second-hand smoke. Smoking contributes significantly to diseases that shortens life and is leading cause of death like heart attack, stroke, respiratory diseases which make smokers “pulmonary cripples” as in asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, recurrent infections, and cancer.



bluedreamer27 said...

thia article was brilliantly done and comprehensively
thanks for sharing this health information
cigarette smoking is one of the thing everybody should avoid

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mr_viruz said...

wow nice post pare cigarette smoking is really a bad vice it was dangerous to our health so we must stay away from it thats why i would not smoke

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Anonymous said...

Very informative post.

Ngayon alam ko ang epekto. Titigil na ko.

Vic S.

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