Believe me when I tell you that I get it. Life is tough. All we want to do sometimes—most times is indulge in our version of escape. Maybe your story is that it was introduced to you at an early age and now you can’t break free. Or maybe it’s not about getting high because it’s an escape for you, maybe it’s like food that you must eat to survive or in this case, smoke. Whatever your case or story might be, tobacco is harmful to your health.
Hey, don’t roll your eyes. I know you know it’s hurting your body because it is even written on the packet you have stashed somewhere that smokers are liable to die young. Why do you think such a disclaimer exists? So that you won’t say you were not told and decide to sue the company when your health takes a downward turn. You’ve probably heard everything I’m about to say before, but we’ll keep saying it until there is a drastic drop in tobacco purchase and use.
According to the American Cancer Society, smokers die 10 years earlier than non-smokers because of the harmful effects of tobacco. Smoking doesn’t only cause cancer, it damages other vital organs in the body such as the heart, blood vessels, lungs, reproductive organs, mouth, kidney, larynx, and bones. Tobacco is made from tobacco plants which contain nicotine (a highly addictive and dangerous drug). Other substances mixed up to give you a cigar or cigarette are acetone, tar, and carbon monoxide, all of which are hazardous to the body.
Smokers are basically buying cyanide. The only difference between a smoker and someone who walks into a pharmacy store to buy Sniper and drink is that Sniper’s effect comes much faster than tobacco. As a non-smoker, you are also prone to all the side effects of tobacco if you stay around its users. Currently, tobacco is responsible for more than 8 million deaths each year in the world, with a 1.2 million death record of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
As stated by the American Lung Association, cigarettes contain about 600 ingredients and when these ingredients burn, they generate more than 7,000 dangerous chemicals, 69% of which are linked to cancer. The effects of smoking are most times not immediate but they have long-term damaging effects on the body that could lead to terminal health problems and death.
Let’s quickly touch on the general effects of tobacco:
- Cancer (obviously) of the mouth, larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), oesophagus, kidney, liver, pancreas, bladder, cervix, stomach, colon and rectum.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – Damage to the tiny airways in the lungs, making it difficult for the lungs to get the required oxygen necessary for the body to function properly.
- Chronic bronchitis – The airways produce too much mucus, causing the person to try to cough it out. The persistent cough will cause the airways to become inflamed (swollen) and can get blocked by scar tissue and mucus, which can lead to bad lung infections like pneumonia). PS: There is no cure for chronic bronchitis. The symptoms can only be managed when the person quits smoking.
- Coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke
- High blood pressure and blood clot
- Eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration
- Lower immunity
- Skin and bone diseases
Effects on women:
- Early menopause
- Ectopic pregnancy (embryo implants outside the uterus)
- Placenta previa (placenta plants itself in the wrong spot) or ), placental abruption (when the placenta separates from the uterus too early).
- Birth defects in babies, still or premature birth and miscarriages.
Effects on men:
- Erectile dysfunction as a result of the lack of sufficient blood flow to the penis.
- Low sperm count
No addiction is easy to break, but here are ways you can start your journey to improved and healthy living.
- Know your triggers (idleness, parties, clubs) and avoid them. When you feel like smoking, give yourself about 10 minutes then distract yourself with something else in that time to take your mind off it.
- Have an accountability officer in a non-smoker friend or family member
- Join a support group
- Remind yourself why you are trying to quit
- Keep your mouth busy with something else, chips, nuts, fruits, sugarless candies or gum (It worked for Han in Fast and Furious)
- Physical exercise
You might be wondering why all the tobacco talk. It was World No Tobacco Day last month, but we were offline for website maintenance and we think this blog should still be put out there.
Make a decision that every day is a no tobacco day. Truth be told, we will all die one day, but not all die na die. If you are going to go, go out swinging in the knowledge that it wasn’t your fault and you took active steps to take care of your God-given body by not deliberately inhaling poison.
If you’ve already started this journey, we are rooting for you. You are stronger than your addiction.