Every year nearly one in every five US deaths are related to cigarette smoking, that means that every year 440,000 people alone die from cigarettes. Deaths caused by alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined are actually less than the number of deaths caused by cigarette smoking. Being the grandchild of a grandpa who died of lung cancer from smoking, I know and understand what cigarette smoking can do.
Tobacco smoke is a mixture of gases and of small particles made up of water, tar, and nicotine. The tar is a mixture of thousands of toxic chemicals, many of which are known to cause cancer. Many of the gases in tobacco smoke are harmful to the human body. These include carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, and other toxic irritants such as acrolein and formaldehyde. Due to the high temperatures of over 1400 degrees F, the burning end of a cigarette is like a miniature chemical factory.
Aside from the tar in cigarettes there is also another very potent and harmful carcinogen called Nicotine. Nicotine causes addiction to cigarettes that is similar to the addiction produced by using heroin and cocaine. Almost 80 percent of people who try smoking become addicted and only 1 in 5 smokers who try to quit succeed on the first try. A person can become addicted to nicotine in the first few weeks of trying it. Most people are unaware that nicotine is a psychoactive drug. A psychoactive drug is one that not only affects your mind, but also your behavior. Although nicotine is classified as a stimulant, it can have either a stimulating or a depressing effect, depending on how it interacts with individual brain chemicals. During smoking, nicotine is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and travels to the brain in a matter of seconds.
As you can see there are many harmful toxins, gases, and carcinogens in cigarettes that cause humans to attain many harmful and fatal diseases. Smoking is a major cause of heart disease, bronchitis, emphysema, stroke, and contributes to the severity of pneumonia. But most of all it causes many types of cancers. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, and is one of the most difficult cancers to treat. It is very hard to detect when it is in the earliest, most treatable stage. Fortunately, lung cancer is largely a preventable disease. About 87 percent of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking. Based on data collected from 1995 to 1999, the CDC estimated that adult male smokers lose an average of 13.2 years of life and female smokers lose 14.5 years of life because of smoking.
Tobacco also has a damaging affect on a women’s reproductive health. Smoking during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth, and death or illness of the child in early infancy. It may also affect the physical growth, mental development and behavior of children until at least the age of 11 years. Children of smokers are more likely to have serious chest infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and to wheeze and cough more and have more ear infections.
Children of smokers are more likely to become smokers themselves. Smoking is very bad habit. People who smoke should really consider quitting. I know it’s pleasurable but is it really worth dying prematurely? If you need help or someone to talk to about quitting contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit their website at www.cancer.org, they offer free help and support.
American Cancer Society. “Smoke Free America.” 2004. www.cancer.org.
August 22, 2004.
Department of Health and Human Services. “National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.” July 28, 2004. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco August 22, 2004.
Phillip Morris USA. “Cigarette Smoking and Disease in Smokers.” 2004. http://www.philipmorrisusa.com/health_issues/cigarette_smoking_and_disease.asp
August 24, 2004.