Everyone knows that smoking kills, but very few of those who start it, ever stop. Most start smoking at the age of 15-18, which is when the temptation to explore the world of the forbidden is the strongest. Turning around after the process starts proves to be difficult for most. The psychological pleasures smoking can provide trumps everything else and before you know it, once a day becomes 20 a day. Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide, tar, free radicals, hydrogen cyanide, metals (like cadmium, lead, arsenic) and radioactive compounds. Does it sound like something anyone would like to consume? People should really consider quitting as early on as possible because more can go wrong with continued smoking.
10. Environmental Damages
According to a 2007 study by the European Health Commission there are about 1.2 billion smokers around the globe. The cigarette smoke along with the cigarette ends that is thrown away after the 3 minutes of smoking joy ride is over, causes land, air and water pollution(apart from giving cockroaches cancer; just kidding, no scientists have verified it yet). Some times to cure some kinds of tobacco leaves heat has to be generated by wood, coal or gas. Tobacco farmers often burn away forests to clear land for tobacco plantations. So what happens is there are fewer numbers of trees to soak up the carbon dioxide released during smoking. The cigarette butts are mistakenly eaten by fishes and other water animals in lakes and rivers causing death and the ones left on the ground may take up to 25 years to decompose fully. The land used for tobacco plantation is unsuitable for growing any other kind of food and cash crops. And then there is the paper needed to make the cigarettes, which means about 500 million more trees are chopped off every year thanks to smoking.
9. Creature of Habit
Smoking is a habit for many. People mostly smoke while out with friends, when they drink, when they feel jittery waiting for some news, when it rains or when they have nothing else to. What happens is that just like Pavlov’s Dog Experiment, the very thought of all these activities triggers a person to pick up and light a smoke. It no longer remains in your control, it no longer remains something you do to pass the time; you get controlled by your smoking. Quitting anything someone enjoys is hard and anyone who has not done it will not understand what someone who is trying to quit is going through, or what someone who has quit has gone through. This is very much like a person with a sweet tooth trying to quit sweets when they are diabetic, only it is worse.
Nicotine is an addictive drug that refuses to let go of the grip it has on you. The longer the use, the harder it is to quit smoking and withdrawal symptoms can become a real pain in the whole body. It makes one nauseous, gives terrible headaches and makes one more anxious as that thing to give the illusion of control is no longer there. The hands shake, there is a lot of sweating and there are abdominal cramps to go with it all. People generally start eating sugary things to help with the craving and to keep the mouth occupied. It becomes really difficult to concentrate on daily activities. As the lungs start clearing out there may be cold sores and other respiratory problems. Quitting becomes so difficult by the time one realises the ill effects that they fall off the wagon to recovery; this is the reason why many prefer choosing e-cigarettes as an alternative which does not really take away someone’s psychological dependency on smoking; it just reduces the health damages.
7. Stress Buster
It is a misconception that smoking helps relax. Smoking is rhythmic and hence gives the illusion of relaxation. Taking a break from a busy work schedule to take a few puffs makes one think they are taking time out to relax. What smoking really does is make your heart beat faster due to a lack of proper flow of oxygen in the blood, the opposite of relaxing. Nicotine is absorbed by the blood and increases blood pressure. Smoking is what some call self-medication. When you feel stressed out, it gives you a sense of doing something when you can do nothing else. But the initial feeling of relaxation soon leaves. The stress and anxiety does not go away in reality. Prolonged stress can cause depression in people.
6. General Health Complications
Smoking is one of those rare birds that can cause damage to nearly every organ in the body, including the heart, blood vessels, lungs, eyes, mouth, reproductive organs, bones, bladder and digestive organs. It decreases blood flow to the sex organs and that affects arousal which leads to poor sex life. Parents who smoke can cause long term damage to their child. A pregnant mother who smokes increases her child’s chances of being mentally retarded; these children have the tendency to have arrested brain development and long term learning impairments. Nicotine in the breast milk causes shorter sleeping cycles in the babies. More so, smoking lowers the levels of protective antioxidants like Vitamin C in the blood and affects the immune system.
5. Damaged Looks
Heavy smokers look older than their actual ages. It is common knowledge that nicotine stains the teeth. The collagen of the skin is damaged in people who have smoked for ten years or more and results in what is known as the “smoker’s face”. Smoking gives one wrinkles around the mouth and this damage is irreversible, no amount of lifestyle changes will help once this sets in. Chain smokers have a tendency to light on one cigarette after another, 10 minutes of smoking decreases the body’s oxygen supply for a whole hour! Studies have shown that on an average 42% of the blood flow to the fingers decrease after one cigarette. Have you ever looked at a regular chain smoker’s hands? Give it a look next time. It is wrinkly and the nails have a yellowish tinge. Smoking also increases the chances of gum diseases, causes premature greying of hair, whatever is left of it as it also causes premature balding in men.
Many people smoke in order to lose weight. It is a genuine concern for many to look thinner, whatever the cost may be. People tend to forget that a healthier body is the pathway to a healthier mind and looking thin would never change the fact that one is not really healthy inside. Nicotine decreases the appetite. While smoking reduces the appetite by increasing the metabolic rate, it ends up decreasing the metabolic efficiency. It does not take away the hunger, but only the ability to eat more than a certain amount decreases. This can lead to anorexia in certain cases which is another mental illness people struggling with illusions of control usually develop.
3. Respiratory Difficulties
Smoking can lead to asthma, with coughing and wheezing tendencies as smoking causes tightening of the airways. The lungs are like sponges which many of us now know thanks to those visually jarring public health organisation advertisements. A long time smoker often has a hoarse voice, a reason why many singers would never smoke (unless they are into rock music where many singers have been known to be smokers specially to get that hoarse voice, which does not excuse smoking). It increases mucus in the lung passages, it causes irritation of the trachea and the larynx (the sound box). It causes permanent damage to the air sacs in the lungs which are responsible for the very act of breathing.
2. Heart Risks
Remember Phoebe Buffay’s massive heart attack which caused her to lose her high profile job and how she had to have a smoke every time someone called her in “The One That Could Have Been” episode? Smoking does make one feel cooler sometimes. I digress. She was told by her doctors she would have to quit smoking if she wants to avoid another heart attack. Smoking causes atherosclerosis which causes a build up of plaque in the blood vessels which ends up restricting flow of oxygenated blood to the heart and other organs. Plaque build up in the coronary arteries lead to severe chest pains, heart attack or even heart failure. Diabetics and women on birth control pills run higher risks of heart disease if they smoke. This affects both light and heavy smokers.
1. Memory Loss
Smoking causes high blood pressure which affects the brain which in turn leads to cognitive decline. Prospective memory is what helps one remember the things they need to do in the future. Unless you want to click people’s photos to remember to kill them in the future, which I suggest you do not do as it will only be used as evidence by the cops later on, you better quit smoking now. According to researchers from Northumbria University both first hand and second hand smokers did poorer than those who do not smoke at all in the Cambridge Prospective Memory Test, which is devised to test their prospective memory. The second hand smokers did do better than the smokers but they were not as sharp as the ones who were not exposed to second hand smoke. So, remember the next time you smoke that you are not only messing up your own heart, brain and everything else, you are doing that to the people around you.