Smoking Facts

Will any one of us be ready to take in a small sip of cocktail made from a rat poison, an insecticide and a nail polish remover? NO, no one in right mind will do such a thing. Then why puff it into your body? Do you know, cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals including around 46 potent carcinogens, some of which are hydrogen cyanide(found in rat poison), nicotine(used in insecticide), acetone (found in nail polish remover), formaldehyde used to embalm dead body and still more. All these chemicals are puffed into the body while smoking a cigar.

According to global smoking statistics (2002), around 90,000 kids have started smoking every day, half of which are from Asian countries. Though the legal age for buying cigarette is 18, the kids in UK were found to have their first puff at a mean age of just eleven. One out of the ten men in the world is found to be a smoker and for every 8 seconds someone is dying because of this habit. According to the statistics from the WHO, smoking has around 5 million victims a year, which is more than death due to AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria taken together.

Nicotine, the alkaloid present in tobacco is found to cause paralysis at a dose of less than 50mg, and approximately 3mg is inhaled by a smoker from a single cigarette. Recently, the nicotine content in cigarette has been increased by using new active ingredients and novel methods to make it more "appealing'. Nicotine, the potent carcinogen reaches the brain through blood stream just 10 seconds after inhaling the smoke. The blood and even breast milk of chain smokers are found to contain high levels of nicotine. An interesting fact that most of us are unaware is that cigar contains a small percentage of sugar, which the diabetic smokers are unknowingly taking in. Urea, chemical found in urine is used as a flavor enhancer in many cigarettes.

The effects of smoking may vary from person to person depending on their body make up and ability to metabolize the toxins and carcinogen. More than 40 diseases are reported to be associated with smoking; it is found to increase the risk of lung cancer, cervical cancer, bronchitis, arthritis, heart disease etc. Nicotine makes the blood more viscous and decreases the oxygen carrying capacity of blood. It also constricts the arteries resulting in chronic heart diseases. The immune system of an active smoker is so imbalanced that they take more time to recover from every sort of disease they come across.

Antioxidants like vitamin C which slows the ageing process are reduced by smoking. This is the reason why an active smoker usually looks more wrinkled and aged than their non smoker friend. Around the world 1/4 of all death related to heart disease and 3/4 related to chronic bronchitis are linked to smoking. According to studies, an active smoker is likely to live fourteen years less than non smokers. Smoking also decreases the sexual activity by reducing the blood flow to the penis.

Smoking not only affects active smokers, but also affects the so called secondary or passive smokers adversely. Second hand smoke or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is a cocktail of toxins and carcinogens which are puffed out by the smoker and given out by burning end of cigarette. Second hand smoking causes a number of health related problems though it causes slightly less problems compared to active smoking. Even very less amount of second hand smoke can cause serious problems. In infants below 1 1/2 years of age, inhaling ETS can cause bronchitis and pneumonia and over 3 lakh such cases are reported every year.

Inhaling second hand smoke from parents can cause asthma, wheezing and middle ear problem in kids. Second hand smoke increases the risk of bladder cancer, lung cancer and cervical cancer in children and adults. Smoking at the time of pregnancy can lead to low birth weight and high death rate in new born. It is also shown to increase sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Tobacco chewing, alcohol and drugs are also among nations leading cause of health problems. Around 10% of school children are found to be using chewing tobacco. This has almost all the effects of smoking ranging from lung cancer, oral cancer, irritation of pharynx etc. Long term use of drugs like marijuana, cocaine, etc can effect concentration, coordination, and even change brain function. The use of drugs also poses a risk of cancer and infertility. Alcohol consumption also affects the brain and body of victims. Alcohol usage can cause impaired judgment, memory loss, sexual impotency, liver damage and even cancer. The effects of alcohol are more in women compared to men.

It is never too late to start anything or stop anything. Deciding to quit cigarette is deciding to choose a healthy way of life. The body starts to regain its normal position soon after you say goodbye to your very last cigarette. One year after quitting smoking, the chronic heart disease is reduced by 20%. But for a long time smoker it is going to be a bit difficult, but the thing that is needed most is a strong oath that "I am never ever going to smoke away my life and health".