The effect of smoking on a person depends upon the amount he smokes and also on how frequently he smokes.
It is said that with each cigarette smoked, a smoker’s life is shortened by an average of 11 minutes. Cigarettes are made of tobacco, which among many other chemicals, contains nicotine as its primary ingredient. Essentially, nicotine is the substance that causes addiction in a smoker. A smoker needs certain amount of nicotine to feel normal, relaxed, or to control his mood through the day. The amount of nicotine he needs is directly proportional to the amount of cigarettes that he smokes in a day. Based on this fact, smokers are classified into two types: Heavy smokers (those who smoke 20 or more than 20 cigarettes a day), and Light smokers (those who smoke less than 20 cigarettes a day).
Apart from nicotine, a cigarette contains several other chemicals which cause harm to the human body. Reportedly, a cigarette contains about 7,000 chemicals, which originate from the tobacco leaf that a cigarette is made of. Within these 7,000 chemicals, around 60 are known to be the cancer-causing chemicals, or carcinogens, in medicinal terms. Smoking is understood to harm nearly every organ of the human body, either by causing a disease to it, or by critically limiting its function. Some of the most fatal effects of smoking are as follows:
Effects of Smoking on -
The Respiratory System:
- Irritation of the trachea (windpipe) and larynx (voice box)
- Reduced lung function and breathlessness due to swelling and narrowing of the lung airways and excess mucus in the lung passages
- Impairment of the lungs’ clearance system, leading to the build-up of poisonous substances, which results in lung irritation and damage
- Increased risk of lung infection and symptoms such as coughing and wheezing
- Permanent damage to the air sacs of the lungs.
The Circulatory System:
- Raised blood pressure and heart rate
- Constriction (tightening) of blood vessels in the skin, resulting in a drop in skin temperature
- Less oxygen carried by the blood
- ‘Stickier’ blood, which is more prone to clotting
- Damage to the lining of the arteries, which is thought to be a contributing factor to atherosclerosis (the build-up of fatty deposits on the artery walls)
- Reduced blood flow to extremities (fingers and toes)
- Increased risk of stroke and heart attack due to blockages of the blood supply.
The Immune System:
- Greater susceptibility to infections such as pneumonia and influenza
- More severe and longer-lasting illnesses
- Lower levels of protective antioxidants (such as vitamin C), in the blood.
The Musculoskeletal System:
- Tightening of certain muscles
- Reduced bone density.
The Sexual Organs:
- Lower sperm count
- Higher percentage of deformed sperm
- Genetic damage to sperm
- Impotence, which may be due to the effects of smoking on blood flow and damage to the blood vessels of the penis.
- Reduced fertility
- Menstrual cycle irregularities or absence of menstruation
- Menopause reached one or two years earlier
- Increased risk of cancer of the cervix
- Greatly increased risk of stroke and heart attack if the smoker is aged over 35 years and taking the oral contraceptive pill.
The Rest of the Body:
- Irritation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines
- Increased risk of painful ulcers along the digestive tract
- Reduced ability to smell and taste
- Premature wrinkling of the skin
- Higher risk of blindness
- Gum disease (periodontitis)
- Increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth
- Low birth weight, which may have a lasting effect of the growth and development of children. Low birth weight is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, being overweight and diabetes in adulthood
- Increased risk of cleft palate and cleft lip
- Paternal smoking can also harm the fetus if the non-smoking mother is exposed to second-hand smoke.
- If a parent continues to smoke during their baby’s first year of life, the child has an increased risk of ear infections, respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and meningococcal disease.
Diseases caused by long-term smoking:
- Cancer of the lung, mouth, nose, larynx, tongue, nasal sinus, oesophagus, throat, pancreas, bone marrow (myeloid leukaemia), kidney, cervix, ovary, ureter, liver, bladder, bowel and stomach
- Lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema
- Coronary artery disease, heart disease, heart attack and stroke
- Ulcers of the digestive system
- Osteoporosis and hip fracture
- Poor blood circulation in feet and hands, which can lead to pain and, in severe cases, gangrene and amputation.
Therefore, man thinks that he smokes a cigarette, but in reality, the cigarettes are smoking him dead.
Information Courtesy: betterhealth.vic.gov.au