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Smoking – Buying Death in Fancy Wraps

Submitted by on August 22, 2013 – 8:30 PM

smoking-deathSmoking is a practice in which a substance (most commonly tobacco) is burned and the smoke is either tasted or inhaled. How strange it is to think that even a lay man who smokes daily knows that it is not good for health,and yet he smokes. Yet he buys cigarettes, or let’s just say he is buying death.


Smoking is expensive. If a pack of cigarettes is about $4, then it would cost about $1,500 /year (these prices are still lower in Pakistan than the rest of the world). Think of how many CD’s, clothes, movie tickets and books one can buy with that money.


Why do people buy cigarettes? What may be the reason? Maybe it is to satisfy their curiosity, because of influence from friends, family, or because it is hard to say no to your friends. Maybe some advertisements make it look attractive. Maybe because some parents are smokers, and some people think it helps reduce stress.


In villages, people have a false perception that smoking reduces toothache and relieves local pain. These are the some of the reasons how people start smoking. People having such ideas must know that smoking will make them look older than their actual age.The reason is that smoking tobacco in the form of cigarettes or in any other form such as Beddi, huqqa, etc. can alter the smokers’ teeth, nails, hairs and skin, making smokers more susceptible to the development of age spots.


Once, a person becomes addicted to smoking, it is difficult for him to stop or quit smoking even if he wants to. The reason behind this is Nicotine. Tobacco is toxic because it contains nicotine, which is an addictive or habit-forming drug, even more than heroin or cocaine, and one of the strongest poisons known. It enters the lungs where it is absorbed into blood and affects the brain within a few seconds and also exerts its effects on the heart by raising blood pressure and heart rate.


Other harmful chemicals in tobacco include mainly tar and carbon monoxide.Tar is a dark sticky cancer causing substance that stains fingers, teeth and tongue. Tar when inhaled covers the cilia in the respiratory tract, which can lead to Lung cancer, Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis. Carbon monoxide,yet another poisonous chemical gas released from burning cigarettes, impairs the capacity of the blood to supply adequate amounts of oxygen to the vital organs of the body.


Other components of cigarettes include formaldehyde, benzene, ammonia, acetone, calcium and hydrogen cyanide. Smoking is such a harmful habit that it kills more people each year than AIDS, fires, road traffic accidents, murders, suicides etc. Problems that results from the tobacco use includes halitosis, stained teeth (yellow teeth are an obvious sign of smoking) and fingers, uneven skin tone (characteristic sign is the looseness of the under-eye skin), poor complexion, smelly clothes and hairs, tooth loss, lines and wrinkles develop around the lips due to the damage to the collagen and elastin, psoriasis and crow’s feet.


Long term smoking problems are nicotine addiction, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, peptic ulcer diseases, lung diseases, disease of oral-cavity and delayed wound healing. Smoking raises the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Fractures of spine can cause an abnormal curvature and “Hunchback” appearance.


Narrowing of coronary arteries of the heart is one of the most dangerous consequences of smoking as a result of which blood pressure is raised and blood is most likely to clot that increases the risk of heart attack. Smoking with all its effects on heart and circulation reduces the athletic ability (due to increased shortness of breath and poor circulation).


Women who smoke have a greater chance of miscarriage, premature deliveries, or having a baby with low birth weight. Also such women reach menopause earlier than those who don’t smoke. Smoking cigarettes worsens insomnia. The risk of oral cancer is also elevated in smokers. 90% of lung cancer deaths are due to smoking.


Smoking not only harms the smoker but also family members, co-workers, and others who breathe the smoker’s cigarette smoke. Such people are called “second-hand smokers” or passive smokers. Diseases associated with second-hand smoke include chronic bronchitis and pneumonia. Second-hand smoke from a parent’s cigarette increases a child risk for middle ear problems, causes coughing and wheezing, worsens asthma, and increases an infant’s risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Exposure to passive smoke can also cause cancer and increases the risk of stroke and heart diseases.


Smoking is the most preventable cause of death. Yes, smoking can be prevented and also one can quit smoking. Smoking can be prevented by advertisements showing the harmful effects of smoking instead of showing young people smoking and looking good. Also, it can be prevented by health awareness programmes and anti-smoking campaigns.


A number of techniques are available for the smokers who want to quit smoking, including NRT, behavioural modification, self-help literature and prescription medication. NRT stands for Nicotine Replacement Therapy which means the habit of smoking is eliminated, even though the addiction to nicotine remains intact. Due to the addictive nature of nicotine, some behavioural modification is often necessary for successful cessation of smoking.


Educational programs, hypnosis, and aversion therapy (learning how to avoid cigarettes) are a few options. Smoking Cessation Prescription includes Varenicline, Nictrol Inhaler and NictrolNS and Bupropion hydrochloride.


Quitting smoking cuts the risk of lung cancer, heart stroke, heart disease and respiratory diseases. Quitting smoking improves health i.e. blood pressure and heart rate reduces to normal values within 20 minutes of stopping smoking, heart attack risk begins to lower after the first 24 hours, lungs begin to heal within the first week. Quitting Smoking has cosmetic effects too and also removes the smell from hair and clothes. Hence, if smoking can be the cause of death then quitting smoking can save one’s life. Stay safe, stay healthy.


About the Author: Sadia Shah is a 2nd year, MBBS Student at LUMHS, Pakistan. He has a keen interest in medical science and wants to remain updated with the new information and technology in this field. He can be reached at [email protected]

About this article: This article is competing for the JPMS International Medical Writing Contest 2013

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