Have a cigarette?
If the answer is yes, you’re one of approximately 22% of Americans, or 1 in 4 people who smoke cigarettes. The statistics are probably similar for Canada. Those numbers indicate that over 60 million people in North America are addicted to tobacco. Of that number, more than 30 million, or half, will die of a smoking-related cause, many during middle age.
Smokers are at greater risk of death from heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, cancer of the lungs, mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, bladder or pancreas. Female smokers have a greater risk of developing cervical cancer.
Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing compounds and 400 other toxins. A partial list of these hazardous substances follows.
* Nicotine is a poisonous drug. It is the main ingredient in insecticides or bug sprays. In its pure form, one drop on a rabbit’s tongue will kill it.
* Tar is the oily black substance used to pave roads. When a smoker inhales, over a period of time, a lot of this thick substance sticks to lungs and turns them black, instead of their normal, healthy, pink color.
* Carbon monoxide is the poisonous gas which comes from the exhaust pipe of a car. It interferes with the function of the human respiratory and circulation systems.
* Arsenic and cyanide are deadly poisons used to dispose of rats.
* Formaldehyde is used to preserve samples of human tissue and the bodies of dead animals.
* DDT is an insecticide.
* Ammonia is found in many products including those used for cleaning floors and toilets.
* Hydrogen cyanide was the lethal gas used by Hitler’s Nazis to kill people in the gas chambers.
* Methoprene is a pesticide.
* Acetone is an ingredient in paint and nail polish remover.
* Chloroform is a gas used as an anesthetic.
* Napthalene is the main ingredient in mothballs.
A few of the other noxious substances in cigarettes are lead, methane, ethanol, nitrous oxide and methanol, but this gruesome list should be sufficient to convince any rational person that smoking is definitely dangerous to health.
However, the body was designed and created with a marvellous ability to heal and renew itself. When you quit smoking-
– in 8 hours the oxygen level in your blood returns to normal
– in 2 days, your senses of taste and smell begin to improve.
– in 3 days, breathing becomes easier and lung capacity increases.
– within 3 months, blood circulation improves and lung capacity increases up to 30%.
– within 6 months, coughing, tiredness and shortness of breath improve.
– within 1 year, the chances of having a smoking-related heart attack are cut in half.
– within 10 years, the risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half.
– within 15 years, your risk of dying from a heart attack is the same as someone who has never smoked.
There are more aids to help you quit smoking now than there have ever been before. Your doctor can help you choose one that will be safe and effective for you.
Then, the next time someone asks if you want a cigarette, you can reply with justifiable pride, “No thanks; I quit.”
The Lung Association
Accessed: October 16, 2010