Tobacco smoking or cigarette smoking (as it is more commonly referred to as) is resorted to by a third of the male population in the world. You can smoke tobacco either in the form of a beedi, a cigarette, a cigar, a hookah or a pipe.
In many countries, tobacco is even chewed. Smoking cigarettes is an addiction and though not impossible, it is very difficult to quit it. You can gauge how difficult it is to give up smoking from this quote on smoking.
“To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did. I ought to know because I’ve done it a thousand times.” – Mark Twain.
If you have done it a thousand times, you really haven’t quit.
Though smoking has been resorted to since 5000 B.C., the danger to health by smoking was established as recently as 1950. Certain smoking facts, mostly bad, have been discovered and smoking today is considered a social stigma.
Below are certain facts about smoking, which in general, give an idea about how and why smoking tobacco is so widespread in spite of its damaging effects.
Why it feels good to smoke?
People smoke because smoking is addictive. This fact explains why it is very difficult for a smoker to stop smoking in spite of knowing its dangers.
Smoking tobacco is an addictive habit because tobacco contains nicotine, which makes one dependent on it.
Nicotine is a drug, which when inhaled through tobacco smoke is absorbed into the blood through the lungs. It then takes just 8 seconds for it to reach the brain.
On reaching the brain, it induces the artificial release of dopamine from the brain cells. Dopamine is a chemical (neurotransmitter), which induces a feeling of pleasure, a feeling akin to a feeling of achievement.
Your body, therefore, yearns for this feeling of pleasure caused by this artificial release of dopamine due to tobacco inhalation.
This feeling dies down after the nicotine levels fall and you wish for another smoke to get that feeling back. That’s how tobacco smoking makes one addictive to it.
Like everything else, there are always two sides to a coin: the good side and the bad side.
Smoking is bad and there is no denying the fact. It does exhibit some good points but they do not justify the act of smoking.
Having some good benefits, however good they may be, just do not outweigh the disadvantages of smoking.
As the CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said, “There is no such thing as a healthy smoker”.
The Good Facts of tobacco smoking
- Smoking increases the concentration power. Studies conducted reveal that smokers were able to concentrate better and for a longer time than nonsmokers.
- In an experiment, both smokers and nonsmokers were asked to perform a task for six hours. The nonsmokers showed signs of anger, frustration, and aggression while conducting the task. The smokers remained nonchalant indicating that smoking has a calming effect on you.
- Studies have shown an opposite association between smoking and the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease. This suggests that smoking may encourage a biological protection against nerve damage. These studies indicate that the more people smoked the less likely they were to develop Parkinson’s disease. It is nicotine that appears to protect the dopamine-producing neurons in the midbrain that degenerate and die due to Parkinson’s disease.
- From incidents studied, nicotine exhibits antipsychotic and anxiolytic properties.
- It is a known fact that smoking suppresses your appetite. This smoking property prevents you from becoming overweight or obese. On an average, smokers weigh less than non-smokers, which prevents many risks of obesity.
The Bad Facts
- Smoking of any kind is bad and best avoided. It is because of the contents of the tobacco smoke that makes it dangerous.
- Cigarette filters do not work. They do not remove enough tar to make smoking less dangerous. It is just a ploy to make smokers feel that they are smoking a less dangerous cigarette.
- According to the World Health Organization, smoking kills more people than any other disease in the world.
- Tobacco is one of the most widely used addictive substances throughout the world.
- Smoking causes serious effects like lung cancer, emphysema of the lungs and heart diseases.
- Carcinogens in tobacco are responsible for the abnormal growth of the genes causing the body cells (which the genes control) to mutate and become cancer cells.
- Second-hand smoke causes ill effects on the health of those who passively inhale smoke exhaled by smokers. Family members and coworkers of a smoker are the most affected due to second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke contains more than 60 cancer-forming chemicals.
- Pregnant women who smoke give birth to babies who are underweight.
- Infants affected by second-hand smoke can suffer from bronchitis, asthmas, and pneumonia.
- Cigarette filters are made of a plastic called cellulose acetate. When a smoked cigarette is thrown away, the filter also contains toxic waste from tobacco smoke. This filter takes 18 months to 10 years to decompose, thereby adversely affecting the environment.
- If an adult consumes nicotine content present in 5 cigarettes as a whole, it is enough to kill him.
- A typical cigarette contains 8 to 9 mgms of nicotine. Since most of it is burnt up, a smoker gets 1 gram of nicotine, which reaches the brain in 8 seconds. When you chew tobacco, it takes about 3 to 5 minutes for the nicotine to reach the brain. A cigar has higher nicotine content – 100 to 200 mgms of nicotine, sometimes going as high as 400 mgms of nicotine.
- Smoking light cigarettes or low tar cigarettes does not reduce the risk of cancer.
- Male smokers lose about 13.2 years of their life while female smokers lose about 14.5 years. Every cigarette kills 11 minutes of your expected lifespan.
- Cigarette smoke is 10,000 times more concentrated with pollutants than automobile pollution during rush hour on the freeway.
Quitting Smoking Facts
The road to quitting smoking is a difficult, long and rough one.
- According to a recently concluded survey, about 15 million smokers try to quit the smoking habit every day. Of these, less than 3% succeed to quit smoking, but only for 3 to 12 months.
- There are some statistics about how many attempts it takes to finally quit smoking. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) informs of 8 to 11 attempts. The American Cancer Society says 8 to 10 attempts. The Australian Cancer Council talks of 12 to 14 attempts.
- Most smokers start smoking during adolescence and take a decision to quit almost every year. The smoker on an average quits smoking in his late 40s or early 50s.
General Smoking Facts
- The Brazilians invented smoking almost 2000 years ago. They smoked the first cigarette by rolling tobacco leaves.
- About 15 billion cigarettes are sold every day worldwide. That is twice the population of the world as in 2015.
- Tobacco can be grown in any part of the world except Antarctica.
- Most countries across the world have banned advertisements on smoking.
- Many countries have made it mandatory to put warning signs of the smoking ill effects on the cigarette packets.
- Many countries have banned smoking in public places. You have to pay a heavy fine if you disobey this ban and smoke.
- In a family where one or both parents smoke, the child is twice as likely to start smoking.
- Lawsuits and the tobacco industry. Since the mid-1990s, the tobacco industry has greatly suffered because it had to dole out cash compensation in legal lawsuits filed by various states in the U.S.
- The largest tobacco company in the world by volume is the China National Tobacco Company.
- Stopping cigarette smoking immediately can cause tobacco withdrawal symptoms in a tobacco addict.
- Though cigarette smoking is on the fall in the developed countries due to health awareness, its incidence is rising in the developing world.
- The multinational companies of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan control the global tobacco industry.
- It was Adolf Hitler who started the first anti-smoking campaign. He was a vegetarian and never smoked or drank alcohol.
These facts about smoking make it abundantly clear that smoking tobacco not only harms you but also harms those around you and the environment.