There are more than 4,000 substances in a cigarette other than tobacco. In fact, the same toxins and chemicals found in tobacco products can also be found in the air around toxic waste dumps. Common additives include yeast, wine, caffeine, beeswax and chocolate. Although some of these ingredients and chemicals are safe in foods, they become toxic and some turn into carcinogens - a cancer-causing substance - when heated or burned.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 46.2 million Americans still smoke, 8.6 million become ill each year, and 440,000 die each year as a result of tobacco use.
There are many reasons why you should not smoke. Besides exposing your body to deadly ingredients such as those used to make poisons, insecticides, rocket fuel, household cleaners and batteries, smoking harms nearly every organ in your body.
Other reasons why you should not smoke:
- Smoking damages your immune system and increases the risk of infections.
- Smoking is an expensive habit. If you buy a pack of cigarettes a day, you will spend more than $1,800 a year on smoking.
- Smoking dries out your throat and makes you cough more.
- Smoking makes the stomach release more acid and creates heartburn.
- Smoking turns your teeth and fingernails yellow.
- Smoking causes premature wrinkling.
- Smoking makes your heart beat faster and work harder and this can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
- Smoking makes allergies worse.
- Smokers experience shortness of breath three times more often than nonsmokers.
- Smokers have two to three times a greater risk of developing cataracts.
- Smokers have more gum disease than nonsmokers.
- Compared to non-smokers, men who smoke are about 23 times more likely to get lung cancer and women who smoke are 13 times more likely to get lung cancer.
- Smoking causes stomach, kidney, bladder and pancreatic cancer.
- Cigarettes lower in tar and nicotine have no clear health benefits.
- The bone density of smokers tends to be lower than that of non-smokers.
- Nicotine reaches the brain within 10 seconds after smoke is inhaled. It has been found in every part of the body and in breast milk.
- Smokers have lower levels of antioxidants in their blood than non-smokers.
- The secondhand smoke that is inhaled by non-smokers can cause lung infections, watery eyes, aggravate allergies and even cause deaths. More than 3,000 people die from lung cancer caused by second hand smoke each year.
Smoking is an addicting habit that is definitely worth quitting for the sake of your health as well as the health of those around you.
Kuakini Health System has been a smoke-free facility since 1988. The "no smoking" policy reaffirms Kuakini's commitment to maintain a healthy environment for its patients, residents, visitors, physicians, volunteers, health care team members and others who come into Kuakini’s buildings.
Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits. Within 20 minutes after smoking your last cigarette, your body begins a series of changes that continues for years.
20 Minutes After Quitting
• Your heart rate drops.
12 hours After Quitting
• The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
2 Weeks to 3 Months After Quitting
• Your heart attack risk begins to decrease.
• Your lung function begins to improve.
• Your heart rate drops.
1 to 9 Months After Quitting
• Your coughing and shortness of breath decreases.
1 Year After Quitting
• Your added risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.
5 Years After Quitting
• Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker’s 5 to15 years after quitting.
10 Years After Quitting
• Your lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker’s.
• Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas decreases.
15 Years After Quitting
• Your risk of coronary heart disease is back to that of a nonsmoker’s.
Source: CDC Office on Smoking and Health
Talk with your physician if you need help to stop smoking. Tobacco use, especially smoking, is the number one cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. Once you quit smoking, you will have more energy and more money to enjoy life.