OK, who still doesn’t know about the negative effects of cigarette smoking on health? Despite the tobacco industry’s best efforts to put a happy face on its addictive products, governments throughout the world and citizens alike have mobilised to expose and reduce this wretched habit.
Still, roughly twenty to twenty-five percent of the world’s adult population are smokers, not to mention one in five high school students. This is why non-smoking advocates remain vigilant in their quest to reduce, and if possible, eliminate smoking.
Why stop smoking?
Decades of data reveal an irrefutable fact: one in two smokers dies from tobacco use. Cancer is a primary result of smoking, with lung cancer leading the pack (N.B. eighty-percent of lung cancer deaths can be linked to smoking). Increasingly though, cigarettes are being increasingly linked to other cancers, i.e.:
- Larynx (voice box)
- Oral cavity (mouth, tongue, and lips)
- Pharynx (throat)
- Oesophagus (tube connecting the throat to the stomach)
- Ovary (a type called mucinous ovarian cancer)
- Colorectum (the colon and/or the rectum)
"Cigarette smoking is the major single cause of cancer mortality."
— Statement from 1982 United States Surgeon General’s report
Unfortunately, the bad news does not end with cancer, which only accounts for half of all smoking-related deaths. Smoking is also a leading cause of heart disease, aneurysms, bronchitis, emphysema, and stroke. Tobacco use can damage a woman’s reproductive organs, and worsen pneumonia and asthma symptoms.
Second-hand smoke (a.k.a. environmental tobacco smoke, or passive smoking) is also harmful – even to those who have never smoked in their lives. Working in smoke-filled environments is a death-trap, and has forced many countries to ban smoking in public buildings, restaurants, bars, and other common spaces.
Benefits of stopping smoking
Smokers can reap tremendous benefits from quitting the habit, regardless of the length of their dependence. The Better Health Channel, an initiative of the State of Victoria (Australia), summarizes three (3) major quitting advantages:
- After one year of being a non-smoker, the increased risk of death from heart attack is halved.
- Quitting before middle age reduces the risk of lung cancer by ninety percent.
- After fifteen years of being a non-smoker, the risk of stroke is reduced to that of a person who has never smoked.
How to stop smoking
A majority of current smokers realise the damage their habit is doing to themselves and their families. However, health and quality of life concerns often take a backseat to this extremely addictive habit.
Firstly, you can speak with your doctor, or other health care professional. You should also educate yourself; organisations like the American Cancer Society, the Canadian Cancer Society, and Quit Victoria (Australia) offer valuable information and resources on how to quit smoking. In the meantime, discourage youngsters from picking the habit. It will drain their pocketbooks as well as their energy levels.
As you withdraw from smoking, get the support of family and friends. Perhaps they have already travelled the road you are embarking on. Learn about the techniques that worked best (e.g. support group meetings, nicotine patches, diet and exercise changes, etc.) and maintain a positive attitude.
http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/retrieve/Narrative/NN/p-nid/58 (The Reports of the Surgeon General)
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Smoking_statistics (Smoking Statistics - Better Health Channel)
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