Beware of What You Puff!


Did you know that puffing one cigarette can shorten a smoker's life by 11 minutes? Research has shown that smoking reduces life expectancy by seven to eight years. About 90 percent of lung cancer cases and 30 percent of fatalities from cancer is related to smoking. Deaths related to smoking are due mainly to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), heart disease, and cancers. Smoking-related illnesses kill about half of all smokers. In most cases, those who started smoking early also make it a life-long habit. These early smokers are also those who are most prone to smoking-related diseases.

Even if the ill-effects of cigarette use are widely known, why do many people still continue smoke? Smoking is a hard habit to break because tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive. Like heroin or other addictive drugs, the body and mind quickly become so used to the nicotine in cigarettes that a person needs to have it just to feel normal.

People start smoking for a variety of different reasons. Some smoke because they think that it is the “cool” thing to do. Others get started on smoking because their family members or friends also smoke. Statistics show that 9 out of 10 tobacco users started smoking even before they reached 18 years old. Most adults who started smoking in their teens never expected to become addicted. That's why people say it's just so much easier to not start smoking at all.

Many of us breathe smoke whether we like it or not. We usually inhale smoke in public places, around doorways of buildings, and at work. When someone smokes inside a home or car, everyone inside breathes second-hand smoke. When a person smokes near you, you breathe in second-hand smoke. Second hand smoke is produced when a cigarette burns. It is made up of two components. One is mainstream smoke, which is what a smoker inhales and exhales. The other is called sidestream smoke and comes from the end of a burning cigarette, cigar, or pipe.

Cigarettes produce about 12 minutes of smoke, yet the smoker may inhale only 30 seconds of smoke from their cigarette. The rest of the smoke lingers in the air for non-smokers and smokers to breathe. Second-hand smoke contains more than 4000 chemicals. Many of these chemicals are known to cause cancer.

Moreover, second-hand smoke causes sore eyes, throat and nasal irritation, headaches, coughing and wheezing, nausea, and dizziness. One can also get colds and the flu. Breathing in second-hand smoke can also trigger asthma attacks and increase your chances of getting bronchitis and pneumonia. The longer you're exposed to second-hand smoke, the more it will affect your health.

The only thing that really helps a person avoid the problems associated with smoking and second-hand smoke is staying smoke-free. Limiting your exposure to secondhand smoke may seem easy, but sometimes it is not, especially if everyone around you is smoking and offering you cigarettes. One can keep his or her home and car smoke free by smoking outside. However, remember that smoke can linger for up to two and half-hours, so opening a window or leaving the room doesn't really count.

Even the slightest exposure to second-hand smoke is dangerous. A piece of advice for smokers: it is never too late to quit your unhealthy habit. By quitting smoking, you can help save other people's lives, including your own.

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