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Posat written by Anne Briggs

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August 26, 2016


It seems like me all know the health risks of drinking alcohol. Alcohol addiction is considered an American epidemic, with an incredible 17.6 million American people suffering from either alcoholism or some form of alcohol dependency. Because of the ability that alcoholism has to ruin families and destroy lives, it is an illness that sits at the forefront of the national psyche. Yet there is another epidemic that is far more dangerous to the health of the nation and that shows no signs of abating:  According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 42 million Americans smoke cigarettes every year. For decades we have known that tobacco smoking carries a wide range of serious health risks, and yet significant numbers of young people choose to take up smoking each year.

Amongst the myriad of health problems caused by smoking tobacco are the increased risk of cancer, emphysema, cardiovascular disease and an increase in problems experienced with the immune system. According to estimations by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking is responsible for upwards of 480,000 deaths every year in the United States.

Do You Really Know The Risks?

Many people, even people who are long term smokers, simply don’t understand the risks of smoking in real terms. The fact is that if you smoke then your risk of early death is drastically increased, and that almost all smoking-related deaths are entirely preventable. Most people associate death by lung cancer and lung disease with smoking (and quite rightly so, as 90% of lung cancer cases are associated with smoking) but smoking causes so much more physical damage than simply to the lungs. Almost one third of  American deaths from coronary heart disease are attributable to smoking and to the inhalation of second hand smoke: another example of preventable death caused by smoking. Smokers who do not make the decision to quit their nicotine addiction as soon as possible will die on average ten years early than a non-smoker with equal levels of overall general health. There are more than 5,000 chemical components contained within cigarette smoke, and almost all of those are harmful for the health and wellbeing both of the smoker and of those around them.

Not only does smoking pose very real risks to your own health, it also impacts on the health of your children, and other people around you, because of the exposure risks to second hand smoke.  Around 54 percent of American children aged between  3-11 are exposed  to second hand smoke every year, and the dangers of second hand smoke are just as real as putting a cigarette to your lips and smoking directly. If you’re indecisive about whether or not you should quit smoking for the sake of your own health then you should certainly consider quitting smoking for the sake of your children, and for future generations.

How Safe Are Smoking Cessation Aids?

There are a wide range of smoking cessation aids on the market: nicotine gum, nicotine patches and, more recently, e-cigarettes. For those attempting to give up smoking, e-cigarettes are now being promoted as a much healthier alternative. E-cigarettes vaporize rather than burn nicotine, meaning that they do not contain the harmful chemicals that are found in cigarette smoke. In theory, then, that should mean that smoking e-cigarettes is better for you than smoking regular cigarettes, however some studies have found that this new e-cigarette technology may be a more harmful way of delivering nicotine to your body than smoking tobacco cigarettes. By the same rule of thumb nicotine patches, which delivery nicotine directly to your bloodstream, may also be a more harmful way of delivery the addictive substance to your system , whilst avoiding the negative health benefits associated with the actual tobacco smoke.

The safest and healthiest way to give up smoking is simply to go cold turkey: to stop putting any dangerous or poisonous substances in your body. However the addictive nature of nicotine means that many people find that concept near-impossible, and it does take significant willpower and strength of character. For that reason, e-cigarettes and other smoking cessation aids do have value, but only in the short term as tools to rid the body of its nicotine dependence, rather than as a long term habit replacement.


NOTE:  Addiction is not due just to the nicotine in cigarettes.  Cigarette manfacturers assure contined smoking by saturating the cigarette paper wit heroine, which is, far more additive than nicotine, creating heroine addicts!  ---PHB