Smoking is not good for our health, so—why do we still do it? There are many types of risks that come from smoking. It raises our chances of having health complications. It can interfere with relationships, how smokers are perceived in our society. How it can take an overall toll on our personal appearance. For us to survive, to be socially acceptable, to preserve our relationships, for us to improve our overall health, mind, body and, soul, we need to quit or never start at all. Or we will just be contributing to the fast-rising death toll count.
Cigarette smoking is responsible for over 480,000 deaths per year in the United States alone, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. On average smokers will die 10 years earlier than that of non-smokers. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day. Smoking causes about 84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Some of these complications include not only lung cancer but others as well such as, mouth cancer, skin cancer, cervical and pancreatic cancer.
Other diseases associated with smoking include asthma, pneumonia respiratory disease, heart disease. Breathing even a little tobacco smoke can be harmful. Of the more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 250 are known to be harmful, including hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia (1, 2, 5). Among the 250 known harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 69 can cause cancer.
One of those chemicals that are found in cigarettes are Nicotine, this is the drug in tobacco that causes dependence. Nicotine addiction, or dependence, is the most common form of chemical dependency in the nation. Research has suggested that nicotine is equally as addictive as heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. Every smoker is addicted to a different combination of the “stimulants” in cigarettes, making their personal experience with smoking and nicotine dependence unique.
Smoking can restrict blood flow to the genital areas of both men and women. For men, this can decrease sexual performance. For women, this can result in sexual dissatisfaction. Smoking may also lower sex hormone levels in both men and women. This can possibly lead to decreased sexual desire. Smoking can cause male impotence, as it damages the blood vessels that supply blood to the penis.
It can also damage sperm, reduce sperm count and cause testicular cancer. For women, smoking can reduce fertility. Smokers are over three times more likely than non-smokers to have taken more than one year to conceive. Smoking while you are pregnant can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth and illness, and it increases the risk of cot death by at least 25%.
The more obvious signs of smoking involve skin changes. Substances in tobacco smoke change the structure of your skin. Your fingernails and toenails aren’t immune from the effects of smoking – with prolonged cigarette usage they start turning yellow in color. Smoking increases the likelihood of fungal nail infections. Hair is also affected by smoking. Studies have found that it increases hair loss, balding, and graying.
Smoking has become very stigmatized, forcing smokers to huddle outside public buildings, bars and now parks. Smokers are perceived as outcasts, lepers, under-class and blacklisted, as some have described smoker’s status in society today. Non-smoking participants associate smokers with a strong negative aesthetic. This comprises two aspects, smell, and negative appearance lacking in cleanliness and engaging in poor self-care. Most people believe smoking is a sign of personal failure.
Smoking is really a preventable death. Although, never starting to smoke is the best option for your health, it is never too late to quit. The good news is that quitting smoking can reverse many effects and is the best option for your long-term health. Quitting smoking is difficult, but your doctor can help you plan. Ask them for advice. Since smoking affects everybody system, finding a way to quit is the most important step you can take to living a longer and happier life.