I hate it so much and every time I go out I try and avoid anyone smoking in front of me or passing by me. Passively inhaling someone’s smoke makes my lungs writhe in disgust. At my time at university my lectures were in between two buildings, in the ground between the two building other students use it as a smoking place where at least 100 people are smoking at the same time (I might be over exaggerating with that number a little bit). Every time I used to pass through, I would hold my breath so I wouldn't inhale the toxic smoke. Smoking is detrimental to your health and so is passive smoking. By passive smoking, you also inhale all the toxic smoke even if you are not a smoker and it can have negative effects on you too.
With so many anti-smoking campaigns everywhere it is a surprise to me that there are still people smoking; from “Stoptober” to anti-smoking billboards to anti-smoking images on the packages of cigarettes, cigarette filters, papers and tobacco, there is also help in your local pharmacy where they provide you with information and stop-smoking kits which help you stop the bad habit. I think just the images of blackened lungs and bloody tar in a cigarette, which is printed on adverts and even on the front of cigarette and tobacco packets, is enough to scare someone from smoking.
Why should you quit?
It is never too late to give up smoking. The risk to your heart health significantly decreases, soon after you stop. Tar, along with carbon monoxide, nicotine and heavy metals such as arsenic and lead all affect the body in negative ways.
Carbon monoxide (CO): CO on its own is a silent killer; it has no smell and cannot be seen. CO in cigarettes, when inhaled, binds to our red blood cells instead of oxygen, making it even more difficult to deliver oxygen around the body.
Nicotine: nicotine stimulates your body to produce adrenaline, which can make your heart beat faster and harder and raises your blood pressure, making the heart work harder than it should be working.
Tar: tar in cigarettes sticks to the linking of the lungs and damages the lining of your arteries, causing a build up of fatty material (atheroma), therefore narrowing the artery leading to possible, angina, heart attack or stroke and the blood is more susceptible to clotting.
On top of all the cardiovascular disease risks, there is also risk of cancer. Smokers are especially prone to lung, mouth and throat cancers and have a higher risk than non-smokers.
What if I really want to stop smoking but I can’t because I’m addicted?
Researchers have been trying to find a way to combat addiction to drugs, such as nicotine, morphine, codeine and cocaine. They are currently trying to produce vaccination against nicotine, which makes the body produce antibodies against nicotine so that the body can get rid of nicotine, in a similar pathway to how it gets rid of a cold. This way the body produces an immune response to nicotine so it is excreted from the body and it doesn’t reach the brain- where the addiction lies. This research was published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, where they have seen other researchers study this technique also, but reaching failure at the phase III trials. We hope that in the very near future the nicotine vaccination technique will prove to be successful and work for everyone, because it will not only be able to treat nicotine addiction, but also other addictions to other drugs.
Hypnosis and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Smoking
The first time I heard of this technique was a couple of days ago. Hypnosis therapy for smoking cessation is becoming increasingly popular between smokers however how it works and why it works is relatively unclear. The idea behind this type of treatment is to manipulate the patients’ cognitive behaviour to allow them to abstain from smoking as much as possible. In a study conducted by Dickson-Spillmann et al, they have shown that even after one hypnosis session, the withdrawal effects that smokers get after they stop smoking were reduced; however if hypnosis is conducted without cognitive therapy it does not have an effect on smoking abstinence in smokers. This is one of the few studies of this type and more studies will be conducted in the future to compare different smoking-abstinence encouraging therapies.
Smoking shisha isn’t as harmful as smoking cigarettes…
Another trend that has been spreading in between young adults is shisha smoking (also called hookah, argileh, nargileh). Since this smoke has been flavoured with an array of fruity aromas, it attracts smokers for its attractive smell and taste in conjunction with rumours that claim that shisha isn’t as harmful as smoking because apparently the water in the pipe absorbs all the nicotine so it’s not as addictive and won’t harm the shisha smoker. And the bigger problem is, is that it is easily available to those under the legal smoking age.
Shisha café owners want their customers to believe that shisha has an “efficient” water filter which prevents the toxins in the shisha tobacco to not reach the smoker, when in reality the water only partially absorbs the nicotine and shisha smokers still inhale the nicotine and are exposed to its negative effects. Scientific research proves that if a shisha session lasts for about 1 hour, the smoke released from it, is as if you are smoking 100 cigarettes. Other than nicotine, shisha does have harmful toxins in it. Like cigarettes it contains carbon monoxide, nicotine, tar and heavy metals such as arsenic and lead, reducing your body’s ability to carry oxygen around in your blood.
Remember, it’s never too late to stop smoking and it will literally be the best decision you’ve made in your life. Even though there is still more to discuss I will end this post here because it is getting really long.