Smoking is an addiction affecting millions of people today, and many others are passive smokers unknowingly. Media advertisements serve as a significant influence targeting young adults, through the use of conspicuous ads on billboards and television. Once a person is used to smoke, they seem not to be able to break it. The presence of nicotine is what makes people addicted to smoking; hence, they keep on wanting more and more without realizing that it is harming their bodies. Some individuals smoke tobacco products acknowledging its harmful effects on their health, but still continue smoking because it keeps them relaxed, aids in reducing stress, etc. Unfortunately, the adverse effects of smoking to the body – cancer, respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular diseases – most definitely outweigh its benefits.
Many studies have identified smoking as the number one cause of lung cancer worldwide. Smoking is also said to kill more people when compared to murder, road accidents, suicide, overdoses and HIV if they are all combined. Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer as a result of tobacco use. The use of pipes or cigars also increases the danger of lung cancer. There are at least 70 poisonous chemicals in tobacco that are known to cause cancer (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). The survival rate of people living with lung cancer is among the lowest of all cancers. Individuals who smoke tobacco products face higher chances of dying from lung cancer than those who do not smoke. Smoking occasionally or a few puffs a day also increases the risk of lung cancer. Where a person quits, the risk reduces, but they are at a higher risk than people who do not smoke. No matter the type of cigarette used, the risk is still the same, and the use of low-tar cigarettes and filters makes little or no difference.
During smoking, some tobacco components get inhaled and deposited in the lungs, which have an adverse effect on the respiratory system. Smoking increases the chances of respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, influenza, and pneumonia (Nuorti et al., 2000). Smoking worsens asthma in both active and passive smokers and leads to tuberculosis. Smoking causes most of the deaths due to respiratory diseases. Quitting smoking is the only remedy to reduce the chances of developing respiratory diseases. In a year after quitting smoking, there is a small development in lung function. However, when one reduces the number of cigarettes smoked, there is no change in lung function. People who quit smoking, therefore, have a reduced risk of respiratory diseases compared to those who still smoke.
The occurrence of cardiovascular diseases increases through tobacco use. Carbon monoxide inhaled during smoking reduces the oxygen amount in blood, making the heart work harder. The arterial lining is also damaged by smoking, causing fat to build up and narrow the artery, which causes a stroke or heart attack. Nicotine in tobacco stimulates the body to produce adrenaline, and in turn, the adrenaline increases the heart beat rate and raises blood pressure. Secondhand smoke exposure is a cause of heart disease among passive smokers. It increases the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Studies have proven that reduction in secondhand smoke contributes to the decrease in mortality rates from cardiovascular diseases. Laws and policies against public smoking and smoking age limit also reduce the rate of cardiovascular diseases (Ambrose & Barua, 2004).
The effects of smoking affect our lives in very many ways: our financial state, physical health, mental health and even environment around us. The health effects of smoking are severe from lung cancer to respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease. Quitting is always the best way to reduce the risk effects of smoking, and if some individuals face difficulties to stop, they can lessen the number of cigarettes smoked a day, and in the long run, they can end up quitting.
Ambrose, J. A., & Barua, R. S. (2004). The pathophysiology of cigarette smoking and cardiovascular disease: An update. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 43(10), 1731–1737. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2003.12.047
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). What are the risk factors for lung cancer? https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/basic_info/risk_factors.htm
Nuorti, J. P., Butler, J. C., Farley, M. M., Harrison, L. H., McGeer, A., Kolczak, M. S., & Breiman, R. F. (2000). Cigarette smoking and invasive pneumococcal disease. Active Bacterial Core Surveillance Team. The New England Journal of Medicine, 342(10), 681–689. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJM200003093421002