BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Health and Smoking



Smoking is a major public health problem and the leading cause of preventable death (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2004). It has negative health effects on people at every stage of life- unborn babies, children, teenagers, adults, and seniors (Rana Naveed ur Rehman, 2013). According to the American Lung Association, smoking can lead to dreadful diseases and health conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, stroke, asthma, diabetes, lung cancer and other types of cancer (American Lung Association, 2016). Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths with about 171,900 new cases occurring in 2003. Smoking harms every organ of the body and worldwide, over 5 million people die of smoking related diseases annually (Rana Naveed ur Rehman, 2013).

Despite the deadly warnings clearly printed on most cigarette packs, smokers are adamant to these warnings. As with other forms of addiction, smokers ignore the negative consequences and costs of smoking due to the addictive ingredient, nicotine (Rana Naveed ur Rehman, 2013). Cigarette smoke contains many toxic chemical agents including acetone, ammonia, arsenic, formaldehyde, cadmium, shellac, benzene and cyanide (Rana Naveed ur Rehman, 2013). Biologically, when smoking, nicotine is rapidly absorbed into the blood stream and reaches the brain in less than one minute of entering the body. It then stimulates the discharge of special chemicals such as adrenaline, which triggers a pleasurable and thrilling feeling. This feeling however, disappears after smoking as quickly as it was initiated and can be re-initiated by another episode of smoking. Consequently, it follows a cycle of excitement and depression which leads to addiction- frequent episodes of smoking in order to initiate pleasurable feelings and become excited. In addition to nicotine, carbon mono-oxide and Tar which are also contained in smoke can increase the risk of heart diseases and lung damage respectively.

Besides the harmful effects of smoking on the smoker, people in the immediate environment of smokers can also be affected- this is referred to as second hand or passive smoking. Everyone, irrespective of gender or age, has the potential of being affected by smoking related health conditions but there are additional health effects which are specific to men, women and children. For example, smoking can cause low sperm count in men and could lead to other fertility problems. For women, smokers who take birth control pills find it more difficult to conceive and may suffer thrombosis when compared to non-smokers (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2004). Finally, children who are within the environment of smokers or who are regularly exposed to smoke have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), behavior disorders, bronchitis and pneumonia (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services , 2004 and Rana Naveed ur Rehman, 2013).

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