Cigarette smoking has become part of the world culture for centuries, despite recent studies about its dangers and health risks. In this article, we will delve into the effects of tobacco use, and how it destroys aspects of life other than human health.
A Brief History of Tobacco
Tobacco has been predominantly among the common forms of trade in Europe during the 16th Century. Its widespread use was at least a thousand years after the emergence of cannabis, which was common in the Middle East. Tobacco was used during religious ceremonies and events.
The first crop grown for money was tobacco back in 1612 when the first settlers of the first American colony grew tobacco as a cash crop. By the 1800s, many people started chewing and smoking tobacco at an average of 40 cigarettes a year. It was Washington Duke who made the first cigarettes in 1865, which were sold to soldiers at the end of the Civil War.
Widespread cigarette smoking became apparent in 1881 when James Bonsack was able to create a machine that can make 120,000 cigarettes a day. He eventually started a business with Duke’s son, and as able to produce about 10 million cigarettes a year. Duke of Durham was the name of the first brand of cigarette. The first tobacco company in the U.S. was owned by Buck Duke and his father, and was named American Tobacco Company.
Practically several other substances aside from tobacco flourished through the years, which eventually became a cause of major concern for the increasing number of people who have died due to lung cancer.
Years after the proliferation of tobacco use, the dangers of cigarette smoking was first reported by the U.S. Surgeon General. It was found out that tar and nicotine in cigarettes cause lung cancer. Because of this, the U.S. Congress passed a bill called Cigarette Labelling and Advertising Act. This aimed to inform the public about the health hazards of smoking by placing warning labels on its packaging.
Several other cigarette brands flourished by 1980s, developing improved products that contain lower amounts of nicotine and tar. They also came with improved filters to encourage more customers to buy and lessen their fears about its dangers.
By the year 1984, another law was implemented where companies were asked to change the warning labels on their cigarette packs every three months and suggested to create four different labels for the companies to use alternately.
Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking
Smoking is among the top preventable causes of death, and yet a lot of people continue to use tobacco despite knowing the possibilities of developing a number of medical conditions. Over the years, tobacco companies have created different kinds of cigarettes with the hopes of lowering the amount of tar and nicotine.
In reality, no matter how much filter is used in every stick, substances found in tobacco can have a huge negative impact on one’s health, most especially for chronic tobacco users.
Cigarettes and other tobacco products are generally derived from dried tobacco leaves in which flavorings are added to make the smoke pleasant. The smoke produced is a mixture of the chemicals from tobacco leaves and additives.
There are about 70 known substances that can cause cancer in tobacco. Some of these chemicals are:
- Carbon Monoxide
- Hydrogen Cyanide
- Radioactive elements
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
Whether the tobacco used is cigarette or cigar, the chemicals are the same but in varying levels. Apparently, cigars can be more hazardous because they emit more dangerous chemicals. When cigars undergo a process of fermentation, they give off a specific nitrosamine when smoked, which is a highly potent chemical that can increase the risk of lung cancer.
Moreover, cigarette smoking can lead to an array of on-going health complications that can affect the quality of life of any smoker (and the community through second-hand smoke):
- Lung Cancer: Anyone who smokes puts himself at high risk of developing cancer.
- Persistent coughing: This is due to damaged airways.
- Dull sense of taste and smell: It can cause loss of appetite.
- Bronchitis: It increases the risk of succumbing to such condition, thereby increasing the possibility of developing pneumonia and tuberculosis.
- Constricted blood flow: The nicotine that sticks on the walls of the blood vessels does not allow normal passage of blood. This increases the risk of developing high blood pressure and stroke.
- High cholesterol: Smoking can affect the balance of good and bad cholesterol in the body.
- Unhealthy teeth and gums: It can cause discoloration on the teeth and can cause infection or inflammation that may lead to tooth and bone loss.
- Immune system: The immune system may weaken, thereby making it difficult to fight off infection.
- Cervical cancer: It can pose a high risk of developing cervical cancer in women.
- Infertility: Smokers have a lower likelihood of conceiving a child compared to people who don’t use cigarettes.
- Poor vision: It can increase the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
- Mood stimulation: It can help you get into a good mood and with this, it can cause dependence which is why smoking can also be referred as a form of addiction.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD): This condition is likely to happen to smokers where there is an estimate of 8 out of 10 who develop the condition due to smoking.
- Erectile Dysfunction: Constriction of blood vessels can make it difficult for men to have an erection.
- Type 2 Diabetes: This may rapidly develop on an individual as smoking increases the amount of insulin resistance.
- Wrinkly skin: It causes premature aging of the skin caused by reduced blood flow.
- Heart disease: Smokers and individuals who are exposed to second-hand smoke have an increased possibility of heart attacks.
How Cigarette Smoking Affects Other Aspects of Life
Smoking does not only have a negative impact on our bodies but can also affect the community as a whole. Smokers may find their vice to be innocent, but in reality, the people around them may also suffer from their unhealthy habit.
Here are five things other than health that get destroyed by cigarette smoking:
1. Cigarette and Air Pollution
The particulate matter found in cigarettes are great contributors to air pollution. Tobacco smoke is a complex mixture of about 4,000 chemical by-products of tobacco combustion, of which 172 are known toxic substances.
Did you know that the smoke emitted by cigarettes can be 10 times greater than the exhaust of a diesel car? The refinement of vehicle fuels (lead-free fuels) has cut the levels of particulate matter that comes out from car exhausts.
About 2.5 microns in size or less, particulate compounds called PM2.5 penetrate deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream, where they can cause lung cancer, asthma, heart attack, and stroke.
A cigarette may only weigh less than a gram, but it can emit 7-23 milligrams of PM2.5 when it is smoked. It may be perceived as something small considering that a cigarette weighs only less than a gram, but it can be an extremely potent source of air pollution.
The chemicals that a cigarette emits through smoke are tiny particulate matters that are very much invisible to the naked eye, but can go deep into the lungs and cause serious health complications.
Smokers are not the only ones at risk of developing different forms of illnesses due to smoking. In the midst of smokers, innocent bystanders are also able to inhale the smoke.
Consequently, it can be even more dangerous for these non-smokers because the chemicals that are emitted on each cigarette does not go through a filter, which means they can possible inhale more potent chemicals. It has been determined that secondhand smoke contains about 47 pollutants that are classified as hazardous wastes.
The average air pollution in the U.S. is measured at about 9.0 ug per cubic meter, based on 2013 estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is equivalent to 0.41 cigarettes per day per person in the U.S. At this rate, it is expected to cause 66,000 deaths per year.
2. Cigarette and the Environment
The environment impact of cigarette smoking to the environment is as alarming as it affects human health. For starters, one cause of flooding in some cities is the indiscriminate littering of different kinds of garbage, and this includes cigarette butts.
Cigarette butts are also a common sight in beaches and even in the watershed, which carry water. They are also found along sidewalks, parking lots, and street gutters.
These cigarette butts are more than unsightly trash to the environment, as they can also emit toxins that can be washed out into our water system. Birds and sea mammals may also accidentally ingest these cigarette butts.
In a Coastal Clean Up performed in 2000 in California beaches, 230,000 cigarette butts were collected. It is accounted to be one of the commonly collected items found in beaches. In the United States alone, an estimated 170,000,000 cigarette butts are collected each year.
In recent years, companies have implemented a “No Smoking” policy within building premises. As a result, it has contributed to the worsening level of cigarette butt litter in the streets.
3. Cigarette Smoking as Fire Hazard
Smoking is a leading cause of fires as published in the August 2000 issue of Preventive Medicine. Smoking-related fires were estimated to cost almost $7 billion in the United States alone in 1998.
Studies have shown that about 2 million fires take place in the United States each year, which results in about 1.4 million injuries, 54,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. The common cause of these fires is due to children under the age of 10 having access to matches and lighters, accounting for about 300-400 child deaths.
4. Cigarette Smoking and Relationships
Cigarette smoking can become a hindrance in building a stronger relationship, especially between a smoker and a non-smoker. It is a clear indication that the person who smokes has no value for his health as much as for his partner’s.
Non-smokers find smoke as an awful odor which can be disturbing. More than the smoke that swirls around the room is having to deal with the scent that sticks to their clothes and the possible foul-smelling breath that the smoking partner may have.
Passive smoking can also cause lung cancer. A compromise such as having a “No Smoking” policy indoors may make the relationship better; otherwise, the relationship is bound to end.
Apart from the smell that the smoke may emit is the possibility of the couple have a high risk of not being able to conceive a child. It is known that smoking can cause infertility, cervical cancer, and erectile dysfunction.
What could make it worse is when a pregnant woman continues to smoke, she is likely to have miscarriage or premature birth. In addition, the baby may have a low birth weight and is likely to develop birth defects.
5. Cigarette Smoking and Self-image
It is unfortunate how adolescents perceive smoking as their standard of becoming mature. Seeing how common it is in society to see people puffing smoke all the time, it has somehow created the perception that smoking makes a person feel more welcome.
The chemicals in tobacco can improve the mood of a person, and this “feel good” attitude makes one more confident about himself. However, even the mildest cigarette smoking may lead to chronic smoking, which can eventually be difficult to give up. When this happens, the adolescent is likely to smoke more potent substances such as amphetamine, marijuana, and ecstasy.
When children are exposed to smoking at an early age, they are likely to develop several forms of addiction – from smoking pot to alcohol addiction.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the use of tobacco products is prevalent among the youth. This includes cigarettes, hookahs, and electronic cigarettes.
Electronic cigarettes have become one of the most popularly used devices among teens these days. The increased use may be brought about by the perception that electronic cigarettes are not as harmful as traditional cigarettes. However, studies show that the chemicals used in these liquids can also cause cancer.
Aside from considering the health risks associated with cigarette smoking, people need to understand the effects listed above. Remember that smoking affects not only smokers themselves but also the people around them and the world at large.
Bottom line, cigarette smoking may gratify or satisfy the user temporarily, but the damage against the environment and other people may be too much to bear.