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Stop Smoking

By       Message Xiaoyan Zhu     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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Let us take a look at what is in the tobacco. Thousands of chemicals are released by burning a cigarette, many of which are toxic. The most four common toxic chemicals are Carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanide, and ammonia. Exposure to carbon monoxide may on occasion, depending on the length of exposure, be sufficient to be harmful to the health of exposed people. This would be particularly significant if the people are already suffering from coronary disease. Nitrogen oxide can adversely affect pulmonary function. Sixty-nine of them are known carcinogens. Numerous additives are added to the cigarettes during the manufacturing process. Some of them are enzymes involved in the metabolism of nicotine. The presence of these chemicals could decrease smoker's metabolism of nicotine and maintain high blood levels, thus increasing smoker's exposure to nicotine. Additives also make smoke easier to inhale into the lung, therefore, making smokers more susceptible to nicotine addition (Rabinoff et al). It is not surprising that people call smoking a delivery system for toxic chemicals and carcinogens.

Smoking damages nearly every organ of the body, from head to toe. Lung is the major target of smoking. Approximately 90 percent of lung cancer deaths and 80-90 percent of chronic lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema are directly caused by smoking. In addition to lung cancers and respiratory diseases, Smoking also causes numerous other diseases, some of them are probably not known by the majority of people. They are (1) heart diseases including coronary heart disease, stroke, heart attack, vascular disease, and aneurysm (burst blood vessel), (2) cancers including mouth, throat, cervical, kidney, stomach cancers, and even acute leukemia, (3) cataract, (4) infertility, (5) peptic ulcer, (6) slow healing of wounds ( U.S.Department of Health and Human Service).

Second hand smoking, also called involuntary smoking, is even worse than direct smoking. Second hand smoking consists of sidestream smoke, which refers to smoke released from burning cigarettes, and mainstream smoke which refers to smoke exhaled by smoker. Second hand smoking contains many of the same chemicals found in the smoke inhaled by smokers. It was estimated that at more than 250 chemicals in second hand smoking are known to be toxic or carcinogenic. Further more, because sidestream smoke is generated at lower temperature and under different conditions than mainstream smoke, it contains higher concentration of many of the toxins and carcinogens that are present in cigarettes smoking. Children of smoking parents have increased frequency of chronic bronchitis and pneumonia in the early life. They also have elevated prevalence of tracheitis, laryngitis, and middle ear infection. Smoking during pregnancy resulted in 20 to 30 percent of low-birth weight babies, up to 14 percent of premature, and about 10 percent of all infant death. Even apparently healthy, full-term babies of smokers have been founded to be born with narrowed airways and decreased lung function (U.S. Department of Health and Human Service).

Second hand smoke accounts for approximately 3000 lung cancer deaths among U. S. nonsmokers each year. Nonsmokers who are exposure to second hand smoke at home or at work have 20-30 percent increased risk of developing lung cancer. Even brief second hand smoke can damage the cells and set them in the motion of cancer process. Some damage is reversible, but some is not. As with active smoking, there is dose-response relationship between second hand smoking exposure and lung cancer; the longer the duration and the high level of exposure, the great the risk of developing lung cancer (U.S. Department of Health and Human Service).

Second hand smoke is estimated to cause from 22700 to 69600 premature deaths from heart disease each year in the U. S. among nonsmokers. A short time exposure to second hand smoke can cause blood platelets to become stickier, damage the lining of the blood vessels, decrease coronary flow velocity and reduce heart rate variability, and increase "bad" cholesterol. All of these negative effects will increase the risk of heart attack by 25-30 percent. Second hand smoke exposure can also make a heart attack more sever than it would have been in the absence of exposure (U.S. Department of Health and Human Service).

Smoking also caused enormous economic loss. Smoking not only imposed cost on those individual smokers, but also imposed cost on others and the society. U.S. spent over $96 billion to treat smoking resulted diseases in 2004. Public funds paid over 40% of those cost. In addition to the direct medical cost, smokers often lose more working days and have lower productivity than do the nonsmokers. The estimated indirect cost is about $97 billion each year (Smoking 101 Fact Sheet).

What a scary picture it is! When you spend your hard working earned money to buy next tobacco, think about this. When you smoke your next cigarette, think about this. What do cigarettes offer you? They not only cost you and society, but also provide you multiple disease and ultimately death. Will you change your mind?

Works Cited

Rabinoff, Michael; Caskey, Nicholas; Rissling, Anthony; Park, Candice. Pharmacological and Chemical Effects of Cigarette Additives. Amreican Journal of Public Health, Nov. 2007, Vol.97 Issue11, p1981-1991.

Smoking 101 Fact Sheet. August 2008. The American Lung Association. 9 June 2009 <http://www.lungusa>.

U.S. department of Health and Human Services. Women and Smoking: A Report of Surgeon General, 2001.

U.S. department of Health and Human Services. Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of Surgeon General, 2004.

U.S. department of Health and Human Services. Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoking: A Report of Surgeon General, 2006.


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I was born in 1966 and grew up in China. I got my college education in China. In 1998, I got into the University of Iowa to study Pathology and graduated in 2002 with a Master degree. I'm currently working at a research lab at the University of Iowa.

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