Everybody knows that tobacco or tobacco products are not good for our health, cancer producing and passive smoking are worse than smoking. I have also seen proud men who didn’t even want to stop smoking although there are small children in their families. These are false prestige. Here I write about cigarettes and the dangers connect to it. In the coming days I will write about the other tobacco products like Beedies, cigars and pipe smoking. It is never too late to stop smoking and I too stopped smoking when I got my heart attack in February 2004.

Cigarettes - Active and passive smoking

What are the health effects of tobacco using?

Tobacco is used in different ways, smoked, snuffed or chewed and the major health effects from smoking are lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The cause of worldwide premature death is a preventable risk.

What are the other diseases connected to smoking?

These are:

• Several forms of cancers including lung, kidney, larynx, breast, bladder, pancreas, stomach, liver, cervical, colorectal, gall bladder, blood and small intestine cancer
• Cardiovascular diseases are stroke and heart attack.
• Respiratory diseases like cold, chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
• Birth defects by pregnant smoker’s baby.
• Blindness because of cataracts
• Increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease
• Brain shrinkage
• Impotence because of narrow arteries

Is pipe or cigar smoking as harmful as smoking?

The risk of lung cancer is lower because they inhale less smoke than cigarette smokers but their risk of lung cancer is several times higher than the non-smoker.

The paper used to roll the tobacco contributes also to the bad effects of the cigarettes.

What about chewing tobacco?

The risk of chewing tobacco is mouth and jaw cancer.

What are the immediate benefits of non-smoking?

The blood pressure, pulse and body temperature become normal, heart attack risk decreases and also blood circulation improves. The smell and taste nerves are working better and this ability is enhanced.

What are the substances from tobacco which makes it dangerous?

Nicotine is one among several substances and tar which is a mixture of several active chemical compounds. There are about 3000 chemicals which are found in tobacco smoke and many are dangerous to our health. 50 of these chemicals are cancer producing. Long time exposure to the substances like carbon monoxide, cyanide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons cause the damage of lungs, arteries and responsible for several other complications.

What about the risk of chewing tobacco?

Similar chemicals for the health dangers are present in chewing tobacco and they are generated during the curing of tobacco. Here the tobacco reaches our stomach all the nicotine present goes into our blood and in this case it is worse than the cigarettes.

Are there radioactive chemicals in tobacco smoke?

There are radioactive carcinogens also present in tobacco smoke and they are lead-210 and polonium-210.

What are the reasons of nicotine addiction?

The rest nicotine which is in the cigarette smoke after burning is very small and it is enough for physical and psychological dependence. Amount of nicotine absorbed is dependent on the quality of tobacco, inhalation of the smoke and use of filter. Nicotine is a stimulant and it is a main factor for continuous smoking.

The chain smokers hate the cigarettes because it is only addiction, but no enjoyment. But they smoke further to supply nicotine to the body only.

Many want to stop smoking, but without success, why?

If you want stop smoking, stop drinking or regulate diet you must have the strong will power. With this power only you can convince your brain to stop. If this could not be done, it is lost from the beginning. When you stop smoking, the first 14 days are very difficult. Nicotine is normally produced in small quantities in our body to make nicotine amide which is very important for our metabolism. In smokers, it is no more produced in the body because it is available from the cigarette. Once the body’s own production is started you have the feeling or urge not to smoke. There is nicotine patch or nicotine gum to supplement nicotine for these 14 days.

Are low tar or light or ultra light cigarettes better than the normal cigarette?

There is no evidence that low tar, light and ultra light cigarettes are safer than normal cigarettes. This is also a way to attract young women to smoke because many think light means safe. Many think, like reduced fat or coca cola light, light cigarettes are safe and so the acceptability becomes more and more. It is a marketing strategy, only one product is less attractive. We may not like it if one product is available, many varieties with light labels and many may accept and become a prey for that. If you attend some of these marketing seminars, you may think that you are in Mars that is entirely a different world.

In Western countries the young women and men are not very much interested in smoking because of the strong campaign from the governments and NGOs. The result is fewer cigarettes are sold. The big cigarette companies are planning to attract Indian, Chinese and other Asian young women to explode their sales. Many young women think it a fashion to smoke like in the Western countries during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Now many young women hate cigarettes because they have understood the dangers of smoking. 2.6% Indian women in India smoke regularly cigarettes. If we take our population is 1150 millions, it is nearly 3 crores women smoke. Compare the total population of Germany is 8.1 crores.

Men, don’t be happy, you must also stop it.

Has cigarette contains only tobacco or some other chemicals also?

Few years ago there was a big discussion between scientists, government agencies and the tobacco industry about these foreign substances in cigarettes. There are several additives used by the tobacco industry which make a person addict to cigarettes. The opinion of the scientists is that it is not only the nicotine but also other added substances cause addiction. Nothing came out at last because the interests of the different groups are different. The billions of VAT played a vital role here.

Has cigarette smoking influence on human reproduction?

There are evidences of the poisons from tobacco smoke damage the sperm cells. Tobacco plants contain cadmium, a poisonous heavy metal which replaces the essential element zinc from DNA polymerase which plays a role in sperm production. It also damages testes.

Are pregnant woman affected by tobacco smoke?

Spontaneous abortions happen often when the pregnant woman smoke and there are other dangers to the health of the foetus.

Passive smoking has the same danger to the foetus.

Is sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) connected to tobacco smoking and passive smoking?

Passive smoking is connected to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Infants who die in SIDS have nicotine and cotinine, the metabolite of nicotine in their lungs and it is from passive smoking. Smoking during pregnancy and passive smoking of infants are equally harmful. Passive smoking is dangerous even the parents are non-smokers to the infant.

The nicotine goes to the mother’s milk and so also it reaches the infant. Passive smoking means you inhale the smoke present in the room which is smoked by others and it is equally or more dangerous like normal smoking because you inhale continuously.

Positive smoking is a big environmental problem.

What is the relationship between smoking and drinking alcohol?

The simple rule is if you drink alcohol you smoke more and if you smoke more, and then you drink more alcohol. The risk of oral cancer and other cancers increase very rapidly. Smokers drink in average 2.5 times more than the non-smoker. It is a devil’s circle.

What is the reduction of life of smokers?

Smokers live 2.5 to 10 years less than the non-smokers.