Start With the Facts: Tobacco
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of premature death in the United
States. In other words, people are dying when they donít have to. Worldwide,
there are almost 10,000 deaths A DAY from tobacco-related illnesses. In the U.S.
alone 400,000 people die each year from illnesses aggravated by tobacco: heart
disease, cancer, chronic pulmonary disease and stroke. Not all of these smokers
are adults. Recent studies show a downward trend in the number of young people
that smoke. Thatís great news! But, there are about 3,000 or more new smokers
under age 19 that start smoking each day not to mention the 15.5 million kids
exposed to second hand smoke each day.
What is Tobacco?:
- Tobacco is a plant that comes in two varieties, nicotiana tabacum and
nicotiana rustica. Nicotiana rustica is used the most and provides the
source of all the tobacco produced in the U.S.
- Leaves from the tobacco plant are dried and shredded and then rolled
into cigarettes or cigars, or packaged as pipe or chewing tobacco or as
snuff. It is the only organic source of nicotine Ė the addicting chemical.
- Cigarette smoke contains over 3,000 chemicals including: Acetone (nail
polish remover), Hydrogen cyanide (rat poison) Nicotine (cockroach killer),
Hydrazine (rocket fuel) and Formaldehyde (embalming fluid). These are not
just words used to scare you (though you should be scared) but chemicals
that are found in cigarettes after scientific testing.
Iím 50 years old and Iím tired of being treated like
an outcast, my clothes and hair stink, my fingers are stained yellow and I
donít have enough air in my lungs to climb two flights of stairs. Worse yet,
while my friends are enjoying conversation and being together, Iím looking
for some corner to sneak a cigarette. Even my grandson doesnít like being
around me when I smoke. Enough already! Help! I need to stop smoking!
Does this sound familiar? Rita has tried everything: cold
turkey; nicotine gum and patches; guilt trips but nothing works, not even being
in the hospital for smoke-related illnesses. Little did she know that when she
lit up that first cigarette at sixteen, her addictive personality would keep her
smoking for the next 34 years! There is good news however. By joining a support
group at her job and learning the facts and tips for changing habits, Rita has
been able to cut down from two packs of cigarettes a day to a little less then
one. Her mentor in the support group is a big help giving her tips to use every
And her family and friends provide support too. If youíre having
a problem with smoking, read on to get the facts and then get help to quit
Remember, second hand smoke causes up to 300,000 lung infections
(such as pneumonia and bronchitis) in infants and young children each year.
Respect the non-smoker (especially children) by not exposing
them to second hand smoke.
How Is Tobacco Taken:
Most smokers use cigarettes. The nicotine-heavy smoke is inhaled into the
lungs where it produces a pleasurable sensation not unlike a high.
Side effects of use:
- Rapid heart beat
- Increased blood pressure
- Decrease in oxygen flow to body tissue .
Some people smoke tobacco in cigars and pipes. Most do not inhale because the
nicotine is strong enough to be absorbed through the mouth.
Side effects of use can result in:
- Cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus and stomach
Tobacco Use has been implicated in many illnesses. A few are:
- Fatal heart failure, stroke, heart attacks, cardiovascular disease.
Various cancers of the stomach, pancreas, uterus, cervix, kidney, bladder
and some forms of leukemia. Sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema and
reproductive complications such as miscarriage, premature birth, birth
defects and especially low-birth weight babies.
Perhaps the most tragic part of smoking is PASSIVE SMOKING Ė
especially when it involves children.
Passive smoking is the process that causes non-smokers to inhale smoke
involuntarily. Some of the smoke they inhale is knows as ďsidestream smokeĒ Ė
the smoke that smolders off the end of a cigarette, cigar or pipe. In
some adults, sidestream smoke can cause respiratory distress and allergic
reactions as well as lung cancer. Other tests implicate passive smoking as
causing more severe episodes of asthma and respiratory illnesses among children
What Can You Do?
Smokers: Quit while you can. The longer you smoke,
the harder it is to quit. Donít try and do it alone. Join a group like
Nicotine Anonymous or Quitnet.
Most health insurance companies now have support systems to help smokers
quit. While youíre quitting, donít smoke around kids. Bad enough we pollute
ourselves, help kids keep their lungs healthy. Respect the rights of
non-smokers. Keep a smoke-free household around kids.
Non Smokers: Avoid smoke filled rooms whenever
possible. Help educate your smoking friends to Tobaccoís dangers and give them
support in quitting.
Kids: If you donít smoke Ė donít start. Join the
thousands of kids that are choosing healthy life styles instead of addiction.
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