Cigarette Smoking Effects

The effects of cigarette smoking can be horrifying. Smoking is dangerous not only to those who smoke, but to non-smokers and unborn children as well. Cigarette smoking is also physically and socially harming. The large particles in cigarette smoke, commonly known as tar, collect in the branching points of the lungs. The tar contains carcinogenic compounds that increase the risk of lung cancer. The small particles in cigarette smoke, including carcinogens, irritants, and corrosive chemicals, collect in the small air sacs in the lungs and damage them. These air sacs are where the blood absorbs oxygen from the air. When the small particles from the cigarette smoke are absorbed into the blood stream and transported to other parts of the body, they include a variety of diseases. The smoke from a burning cigarette is a mixture of hot gasses and different sized particles that fills the air with over 4000 chemicals, including 43 carcinogens and over 400 other toxins (Glantz & Daynard, 1991). One of the gasses emitted by cigarette is carbon monoxide, a colorless and orderless poison. By attaching to hemoglobin, the carbon monoxide lessens the bloods ability to carry oxygen. There are many effects of cigarette smoking on the actual smoker.

They include lung cancer and other cancers, cardiovascular malfunctions, strokes, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. Cigarette smoking may even lead to changes in the smokers appearance such as early wrinkling and yellowing of their teeth. Heart disease and cardiovascular malfunctions are also major effects of cigarette smoking. A chemical in cigarette smoke called glycoprotein attaches to smooth muscle cells inside arteries, causing the interior of these cells to grow. The hollow space inside the artery narrows, which could cause a blockage of the blood flow to the heart and may lead to heart pains or possibly a heart attack. Lung cancer is responsible for 117,000 American deaths per year according to the American Cancer Society (1992). It is the cause of 25% of all cancer deaths and 5% of all deaths (Schaadt, 1992). Most carcinogens are the actual particles in cigarette smoke that may cause lung cancer. The particles include tar, metals (nickel and cadmium), and other chemicals such as benzophyrene and dibenzanthracene.

The lung airwaves are covered by a thin cell layer of epithelium, which absorbs cigarette smoke into the lungs. Once the cigarette smoke has been absorbed into the lungs, the components in the cigarette smoke reach the sputum, a type of saliva. The presence of these components in the sputum may cause mutations in the smokers genes, which may lead to the formation to cancerous tumors. The risk of developing lung cancer is directly related to the number of cigarettes smoked (Schaadt, 1992). Many of the cancers besides lung cancer may develop as a result of cigarette smoking. One example is cancer of the larynx. Sometimes the larynx has to be removed because of the presence of a tumor, forcing the smoker to breathe through a surgical opening in the wind pipe. Because the larynx is located near the voice box, the voice box will often get destroyed from the tumor on the larynx, forcing the smoker to use an artificial voice box in order to speak. Less major cancers including cancers of the cheeks, gums, lips, tongue, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas may also arise.

Another cardiovascular malfunction that cigarette smoking may cause are strokes. A stroke is damage to the brain caused by leakage from a ruptured blood vessel or an interruption in blood supply. Nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke affect the adhesives of blood platelets, the main clotting factor in blood. This can cause blood vessels to harden and form blood clots that can flow to the brain, a major cause of strokes. Nicotine can also cause the blood vessels to constrict. When a smokers arteries become too constricted, his/her blood supply to the brain decreases dramatically, causing a stroke (Schaadt, 1992). Emphysema is a disease of the lower respiratory system. Cigarette smoking destroys the tiny air sacs in the lungs that absorb oxygen into the blood. This causes breathing to become extremely difficult. People with advanced emphysema may use 80% of their strength just to breath (Schaadt, 1992). Advanced emphysema is very agonizing and usually results in heart failure as a result of the strain. Along with many cancers and cardiovascular mal functions, chronic bronchitis is also a result of cigarette smoking.

Smoking induced bronchitis results from chronic irritation and inflammation of the air passages leading from the windpipe to the lungs. Prolonged smoking makes a smokers cilia, microscopic hairs that line the lungs, useless. As a result, tar accumulates in the lungs, restricting the smokers breathing ability (Schaadt, 1992). Smokers are forced to cough constantly and regurgitate phlegm in an attempt to get rid of foreign particles that his or her cilia can no longer eliminate. Cigarette smoking affects the physical appearance and social life of the smoker. Wrinkles may form around their mouth, and their teeth may turn yellow. An unwelcome stench gets in their hair and clothes. The smokers breath may also have an unpleasant order. All of these affects tend to make non-smokers stay away from smokers.

As a result, many restaurants, malls, and other public places are now non-smoking areas. The lit end of a cigarette burns at a lower temperature then when it is being smoked. This lower temperature leads to dirtier combustion because smoke from a hotter fire burns cleaner and produces less air pollution (Glantz & Daynard, 1991). Sidestream smoke doesnt have the benefit of being filtered through the cigarette like the mainstream smoke. Mainstream smoke that the active smoker inhales. Lung cancer is the most researched fatal health consequence of breathing ETS. Non-smokers exposed to ETS absorb tobacco products into their blood and tissue. Statistically, there is a risk ratio of about 1.53 for non-smokers who live with smokers to develop lung cancer, compared to non-smokers who are not exposed to ETS (Glantz & Daynard). Cigarette smoke spends about 90% of the time floating around rather than being actively inhaled (Glantz & Daynard, 1991). Sidestream smoke is the cigarette smoke from the lit end of the cigarette that pollutes the air surrounding the smoker.

A combination of sidestream smoke and exhaled smoke is known as second hand smoke or environmental tobaccos smoke (ETS). People who breathe ETS are called passive or involuntary smokers. Even though passive smokers arent actually smoking the cigarette there are still many health hazards associated with this type of smoking. Minor effects on non-smokers include respiratory problems such as chronic cough, phlegm and wheezing, reduced levels of lung function, and increased numbers of asthmatics. Many non-smokers also suffer from irrated eyes, nose, and mouth, middle ear infections, and headaches (Schaadt, 1992). Individuals with pre-existing health problems including asthma, bronchitis, cardiovascular diseases, rhinitis, colds, and allergies are affected even more severely than healthy non-smokers. Many deaths are connected to passive smoking. Heart disease, lung cancer, and other cancers cause 53,000 non-smoking Americans to die every year. Passive smoking is the third leading preventable cause of death behind active smoking and alcohol abuse in the United States (Glantz & Daynard, 1991).

Many mothers have lost their babies, to prenatal death, death of the baby before birth. The risk of prenatal death is increased if the father smokes 10 or more cigarettes per day. Mothers or fathers smoking during the first trimester of the mothers pregnancy reduce the weight by approximately an ounce per ten cigarettes smoked per day (Schaadt, 1992). If the father or mother smokes one pack of cigarettes per day, the newborn weight decreases by an average of one ounce per day. Many unborn babies, newborns, and children do not have the choice to stay away from cigarette smoke. Unfortunately, the fact that these children do not have the choice to stay away makes them passive smokers. Along with adult passive smokers, these unborn babies and children suffer from the effects of ETS.

Young children are similarly affected. Infants and children at home that are exposed to ETS on a regular basis, have a lower growth rate. They lose 0.03 cm for every 20 cigarettes that their parents smoke per day (Schaadt, 1992). The development of their lung capacity is also slower and less complete. Lung irritation and minor infections cause wheezing and coughing. Middle ear infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia occur more frequently in children with one or more smoking parent.

Even though cigarette smokers find that smoking relaxes them and relieves some of their stress, it is actually causing harmful effects from them and others. Cigarette smoking causes many types of cancers including lung cancer. Strokes, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema also arise from cigarette smoking. Non-smokers suffer from many of the same cancers and diseases, and often more such as coughing, wheezing, irrated eyes and throat, and asthma. Children living with smokers become passive smokers causing decreases in weight and height. There are many dangers as a result of cigarette smoking not only to smokers, but to non-smokers as well.

Bibliography

Bowman, L. (1995, August). New Research: Chew, Dont Smoke, If you need nicotine. Scripps Howard News Service (Online). Gano, L. (1989). Smoking. San Dfiego, CA: Lucent Books Inc. Glantz, S.A & Daynard, R.A (1991, June). Safeguarding the workplace: Health Hazards of Secondhand Smoke. Trial (Online). Monroe, J. (1995). Nicotine. Springfield, N.J: Enslow Publishers Inc. Pietrusza, D. (1997). Smoking. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books Inc. Schaadt, R.G (1992). Tobacco and Health. Guilford, CT: The Dushkin Publishing Group, Inc.