By DANIELA BAYER
Cigarettes are legally sold products that harm and kill if used as intended. Smoking causes respiratory problems, such as wheezing, coughing, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. Smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer and cancers of the mouth, throat, stomach, pancreas, bladder, or kidney. Many smokers experience panic attacks. Smoking has been linked to chest pain and heart and cardiovascular disease. In addition to compromising the immune system and causing serious damage inside the body, the poisons in cigarettes also affect a smoker's appearance. Smoking dries the skin out and causes wrinkles and cracked lips. Some research studies linked smoking to premature gray hair and hair loss.
The Environmental Protection Agency reports that with each cigarette, smokers inhale more than 4,700 chemicals, 200 poisons and 50 human carcinogens. The British Health Education Authority warns that cigarette smoke contains formaldehyde (paint and embalming fluid used in funeral homes to preserve dead bodies) in addition to phenol (disinfectant), naphthalene (mothballs), methanol (rocket fuel), benzene (petrol additive), ammonia (toilet cleaner), acetone (nail polish), cadmium (batteries), hydrogen cyanide (gas chamber poison), acrolein (chemical weapons), polonium 210 (radioactive compound), arsenic (rat poison and wood preservative), various pesticides, carbon monoxide (exhaust fumes), benzo(a)pyrene BAP (damages p53 gene that protects the body against cancer), nitrosamines (group of chemicals that damage DNA), tar, nicotine – and the list goes on.
Nicotine is an insecticide. It is a powerful addictive drug when inhaled. The addiction has the same psychological effects as a heroin addiction, interweaving itself with the deep levels of self-identity and social and physical survival instincts. About 7 in 10 individuals who tried smoking became addicted to nicotine, and half of smokers died of smoking-related disease. Every year, 20 percent of deaths are from smoking, and more than 400 thousand Americans die from smoking-related causes. Thousands of nonsmokers die of lung cancer each year because they are exposed to secondhand smoke.
Do these statistics make you angry and sad? Smoking is the leading PREVENTABLE cause of death in this country.
Unfortunately, for most people, smoking is much more than a nicotine addiction. It is a complex habit that becomes a physical, emotional, and social part of life and a tool for stress relief, coping, and self-empowerment. The physical and emotional effects of smoking endure while the smoker is attempting to quit, and withdrawal effects include depression, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, constipation, insomnia and attention deficit. Craving is believed to be the most difficult of the withdrawal symptoms because of its early onset, persistency, and severity. Withdrawal symptoms become even more severe two to five days before relapse and subside quickly after relapse. During abstinence, smokers experience headaches, mood changes, and motivational and cognitive disturbances. Negative emotions, stress, depression and anxiety further increase the likelihood of relapse.
A smoker who desires to quit the habit successfully gets good results from an integrative approach that takes into account the smoker's personal, social and economic reality. Smoking cessation in conjunction with behavioral therapy is much more effective than either approach alone, as they provide the smoker with practical tools for managing physical and psychological dependency in addition to developing positive and healthy self-image, attitude, and preference.
The best remedy? Prevention.