We all are aware that cigarette smoking poses a great deal of health risks in our body. According to Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 20 percent of US adults, or 43 million people currently smokes cigarettes.
They said that smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, which is responsible for about one out of every five deaths each year for a total of about 443,000 deaths.
When I was growing up, I remember seeing our neighbors smoking in our streets. After lunch or right after dinner, where they would go out of their houses and would chat along the side streets while smoking. But these individuals all lasted until 80 to almost 90 years old.
What may have been the reason for cigarettes to be dangerous as it is right now than before?
Here’s Why Cigarettes Are More Dangerous Than Ever
Cigarettes are more dangerous than ever because of the tactics that tobacco companies are implementing over the last 50 years. Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids, a non-profit organization that works and advocates towards a tobacco-free future, has done research based on reviews of scientific studies and tobacco industry documents as well as the Surgeon General’s report.
According to their research, it was found that today’s smokers have a higher risks of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than those people that smoked in 1964- even though they smoke fewer cigarettes.
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids produced a revealing info graphic that lays out how cigarette’s design and composition have changed in the last five decades. Below is the summary of the information based on that info graphics made by the said non-profit organization.
9 Ways Tobacco Companies Designed Cigarettes To Be More Habit Forming, More Attractive To Minors And More Dangerous:
- The addictiveness of cigarettes has been increased by tobacco manufacturers by increasing nicotine levels.
- The organization also claims that manufacturers add ammonia, which increases the speed of nicotine delivery to the brain.
- Another component that is being done is adding sugar which increases the habit-forming effects of nicotine that according to the organization makes it easier to inhale tobacco smoke.
- Tobacco manufacturers have altered the taste and smell of cigarettes which made it easier for people to start and continue smoking.
- They also designed tobacco smokes less harsh by adding levulinic acid which makes the smoke feel smoother and less irritating.
- Manufacturers added chemicals that expand the lung’s airways which makes it easier for tobacco smoke to pass into the lungs.
- Cigarettes has this ventilation holes in the filters that makes smokers to inhale more vigorously pulling carcinogens more deeply into the lungs.
- Menthol is also a component that makes smokers drawn into it as it cools and numb the throat to reduce irritation and make smoke feel smoother.
- American style cigarettes are made with blended tobacco that has much higher levels of cancer causing nitrosamines.
Some of you are maybe wondering …what the heck is Nitrosamines?
Nitrosamines-are chemical compounds that is a nitroso group bonded to an amine which mostly are carcinogenic. These chemical compounds are used in the manufacture of some cosmetic, pesticides and in most rubber products (yikes).
So ladies, we better check the components of those cosmetics that we are buying! Moving on!
Health Effects Of Smoking Cigarettes
Due to this new composition in cigarettes, they are absorbed easily and quickly from the lungs to the heart and brain. Cigarette smoking endangers nearly every organ of the body causing many health conditions and diseases.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 10 times as many US citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all wars fought by the United States.
- Smoking causes about 90% or 9 out of 10 of all cancer deaths. More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.
- Smoking causes about 80% or 8 out of 10 of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It is 12 to 13 times more likely for smokers to die from COPD than nonsmokers.
- It increases the risk for coronary artery disease by 2 to 4 times.
- Smoking increases the risk for stroke by 2 to 4 times.
- Smoking increases the risk of men developing lung cancer by 25 times. It can actually cause cancer almost anywhere in the body.
- It increases the risk of women developing cancer by 25.7 times.
- Smokers are of a higher risk for diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease).
- Even though an individual smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day can still have an early signs of cardiovascular disease.
- Smoking damages blood vessels and can make them thicken and be narrowed, which can make heart beats faster and blood pressure to go up and sometimes can even cause clot formation.
- Narrowed or blocked blood vessels caused by smoking can also reduce blood flow to the legs and skin.
- If one has asthma, smoking can trigger an attack or make it worse.
- Smoking can make it harder for a woman to become pregnant. The baby’s health can also be affected before and after birth.
- Smoking increases risks for early delivery, stillbirth (death of a baby before being born), low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome known as SIDS or crib death, ectopic pregnancy and orofacial clefts in infants.
- Men’s sperm can also be affected in which fertility can be reduced and also increases the risk for birth defects and miscarriage.
- Bone health can be affected by smoking in women past their childbearing years who smokes. They will have weaker bones, which makes them at a greater risk for broken bones, than women who never smoked.
- It can affect the health of your teeth and gums and cause tooth decay.
- Smoking increases the risk for cataracts and can cause age-related macular degeneration.
- There is a 30-40% higher chance of developing diabetes for active smokers than non-smokers. Smoking is a cause of type 2 diabetes and it can make it harder to be controlled.
- It causes decreased immune function and it can cause rheumatoid arthritis.
So to sum it all up, smoking causes diminished overall health which can increase absenteeism from work and increased health care usage and cost. It harms nearly every organ of the body which can lessen one’s productivity and optimum functioning. It can also increase the risk of dying from cancer and other diseases.
It is obvious that smoking is not good for our health, but why do people still smoke and has problem quitting?
Why Do People Smoke
- As we all know, most people start smoking when they were in their teens which was probably due to peer pressure or for fun or just wants to try it due to curiosity and to push their boundaries and be a risk taker.
- We also know that once one starts smoking, it is hard to quit due to the addictive component of cigarette which is nicotine.
- The body becomes addictive to nicotine and so cravings develop. If that cravings does not get satisfied, the feeling of anxiety, stress, irritability and being down starts which drives them to have another smoke thus the cycle continues.
- Some people smoke because it helps them cope with anxiety and stress. The habit gives them a sense of well-being.
- People with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety smoke because it lessens the symptoms that they experience.
- It became a habit to a lot of smokers already in which some drinks coffee in the morning while smoking or it’s part of their routine during break time at work.
- A lot of people are afraid that they will gain weight as soon as they quit smoking.
- To some, smoking became a crutch in which they believe that it helps them with concentration and be more focused
My Personal Experience With Smoking
I tried smoking once during my teenage year but I didn’t like it the first time so I never tried it again ever. But my father and my husband were both a smoker. My father passed a way at the age of 87 y.o., he died in his sleep. He started smoking, according to him, when he was 11 y.o. which fortunately only haunted him when he reached the age of 81 y.o.
He visited me one day and we were wondering why he was huffing and puffing while he was walking so we took him to the hospital. That’s when we found out that he had a collapsed aorta and also had peripheral vascular disease.
Needless to say, he had surgery in which he recovered fast but to my dismay he still would sneak a smoke or two of cigarette after recovery. He lived a long and healthy life and was probably fortunate that in his era, cigarettes were not as potent as it is now.
With my husband, he used to smoke a lot too and started at a young age. So when we got married it took years before he was able to quit. It took me to do some scary tactic for him to finally let go of cigarette. I struggled while he was struggling during those periods of withdrawal as he became more short tempered and he gained so much weight.
But I have been very thankful of him as he was able to kick the habit because people who quits smoking has a higher chance of becoming healthier and their life expectancy increases.
To Top It Off
Based on studies, smokers are 4x more likely to quit smoking with the help of a healthcare professional.
Just after a year of quitting smoking, the risk of a heart attack drops sharply. Within 2-5 years after quitting smoking, the risk for stroke may reduce to about that of a nonsmoker. As for cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder, the risk drops by half within 5 years of quitting smoking.
With lung cancer, ten years after quitting smoking, the risk of dying from it drops by half.
If you or someone close to you has been a smoker or is going through the process of quitting smoking, please share your thoughts and experiences. For any questions and comments please comment down below and I will be happy to respond.
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention
Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids