The debate about cigarettes goes on. Smokers claim they have the right and freedom to puff anywhere they choose. Non-smokers say it’s not so. The odors, poisonous chemicals, fire hazards and second-hand smoke are just some of the damage caused by smokers.
There are always new scientific studies that seem to prove the non-smokers are right. The latest World Health Organization (WHO) report says it’s researchers have gathered statistical proof that cigarettes kill more than 5.5 million adult smokers each year. The studies also show that another 600 thousand die from second-hand smoke and the resulting diseases they cause.
Of that figure, 165 thousand are children under the age of five. WHO studies point out that children are the most vulnerable to second-hand smoke, because they have no choice nor ability to get away from parents and other relatives that are heavy smokers. Further, their not-yet-fully-developed bodies, nervous systems and brains suffer the most damage.
Some of the chemicals in cigarettes are known to cause damage to smokers, as well as to those who must involuntarily breathe the smoke near them. For example, nicotine affects the brain and nervous system within seconds after smoke is inhaled. This, as with any other drug, can cause drowsiness.
Statistics show that thousands of deadly fires each year begin when smokers with a lighted cigarette fall asleep in bed or on sofas. This doesn’t just kill the smokers, but anyone else unfortunate enough to be in the same house or apartment nearby.
Carbon monoxide damages red blood cells by preventing sufficient oxygen from keeping them functioning efficiently. Carcinogens negatively affect genes that support growth of cells, which result in abnormality and distorted reproduction. These damages are much more severe in small children, when their systems are in the most rapid state of growth.
Of course, wars, crime, disease, alcoholism, other addictions and air pollution kill more people annually than smoking. However, anti-tobacco advocates make their case that smokers should try to stop because second-hand smoke has a deadly effect on their children, as well as on other non-smokers who must share work or living spaces with them.
The WHO study concludes that diseases caused by smoking and breathing second-hand smoke are the most preventable killers in the world. The choice to avoid affecting others, especially helpless children, must be decided by each smoker.
All it takes is for the individual smoker to make the decision to break away from the addiction and end it. If you’re a habitual smoker who is determined to make that decision, your greatest reward will be the everlasting thanks of your loved ones.
United Nations World Health Organization Tobacco Fact Sheet via who.org