The act of inhaling and exhaling the fumes of burning tobacco in cigars, cigarettes or pipes is called smoking. Originally, it was started by Native Americans and was practiced in rituals and for medicinal purposes. But, slowly it spread to other parts of the world, and by the end of 19th century the use was widespread. People smoke tobacco in different forms namely; cigarette, cigar, pipe, hookah, etc. Today, the habit is so rampant that many governments have come down heavily on tobacco manufacturers and sellers, in the form of heavy taxation for tobacco and tobacco products.
Effects of Smoking
Tobacco smoke contains a substance called nicotine, a poisonous alkaloid. It also has substances such as carbon monoxide, acrolein, ammonia, prussic acid, aldehydes and tar. Tobacco contains about 4000 chemicals, which when heated, produce a lot of substances that cause irreparable damages to the health.
A cigarette burns at 700°C at the tip and at 60°C at the butt. This heat breaks down the tobacco stuffed inside, to produce various toxins. When a cigarette burns, the residue is concentrated towards the butt. To avoid excess inhaling of tobacco products, the concept of filters was introduced by the manufacturers, and an impression that filter cigarettes are harmless, was created. But, it has been proved that filters cannot altogether stop the substances from getting inside. However, the intake will be reduced by the quality of filter.
Diseases Caused by Smoking
Smoking affects the lungs and causes lung cancer. Its harmful effects do not end there. Cancer and some other illnesses such as heart diseases, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases are caused. The risks associated with the use of oral contraceptives, and occupational hazards such as the use of asbestos sheets, are increased by the harmful effects of smoking.
Pipe and cigar users do not normally inhale much, which may not cause lung cancer, but they run the risk of developing mouth cancer. In the case of pregnant women, smoking is doubly dangerous, as it affects the child in the womb. The nicotine in tobacco reduces the blood flow, and thereby, the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the unborn baby gets reduced causing, sometimes, the death of the baby itself.
Studies have shown, one in two chain smokers die, and half of these chain smokers never cross their middle age. Nicotine and carbon monoxide, together, cause increased heart rate, blood pressure, and put strain on the blood vessels and heart. Smoking also causes a number of cardiovascular diseases that include heart attacks and strokes.
Cigarettes contain tar-like substances, that coat the lungs like soot in chimneys. In just 20 days, a smoker breathes in about one full cup (215 g) of tar, thus, reducing the air carrying capacity of the lungs. The carbon monoxide decreases the oxygen levels reaching the brain, muscles and body tissues, causing the heart to pump harder and faster.
Smokers tend to suffer from many lung ailments that include emphysema (slow rotting of the lung tissue), bronchitis, chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), and finally heart failure. Smokers are 10 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers. Studies also show that 1 in every 5 deaths due to heart disease is due to smoking. This is because smoking tends to cause blockage of blood vessels by fat deposits, that affects the functioning of the heart.
It is not just lung cancer, but smoking cigarettes can also cause cancers such as acute myeloid cancer, cervical cancer, bladder cancer, stomach cancer, cancer of the mouth, cancer of the throat, cancer of the uterus and many others.
The dangers of smoking are not confined to the smoker himself. The non-smoking person by his side is also affected by the act. This is called passive smoking, i.e., inhaling the cigarette smoke of others. It is also known as environmental or secondhand smoking.
According to studies, the signs for cardiovascular diseases are higher in people subjected to secondhand smoking. It is confirmed in many studies that exposure to secondhand smoke may cause lung cancer, heart diseases, heart attacks, or breast cancer in the case of young women. The risks a passive smoker is exposed to, have led to the ban of smoking in public in many countries.
Studies on Smoking
In 1964, a committee appointed by the U.S. Public Health Service concluded in its report, that smoking is a serious health hazard. The Surgeon General's Advisory Committee drew the attention of the world to the dangers of smoking. It concluded, based on the study conducted over a decade, that the chances of a smoker getting lung cancer are significantly more than a non-smoker.
Other factors that may affect one's chances of contracting diseases include the number of years the person has smoked and the age at which he/she started smoking. The effects of smoking have been taken so seriously by the governments around the world that they have made it compulsory to have statutory warnings like "smoking is injurious to health" or "smoking kills" on all packs, so that the new users get the warning.
Whether it is active or passive smoking, it has several harmful health effects. The bottom line is, it is harmful to health and 'SMOKING KILLS". It is time to say no to tobacco and no to smoking.