Smoking Habit

Whether you smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco, you are ingesting a powerfully addictive drug known as nicotine. In fact, smoking pipes and cigars is just as habit-forming as smoking cigarettes. While some people insist that they are not addicted to tobacco, the simple fact is that ingesting any form of tobacco for a certain period of time can cause a variety of negative health effects.

Chemicals in Tobacco

Along with nicotine, cigarettes and other tobacco products contain over 4,000 chemicals that are harmful to our health. In fact, over 200 of them (about 5 percent) are known to cause cancer. Here is a list of some of the dangerous chemicals tobacco contains, along with notes on where these chemicals are typically found:

  • acetone, an ingredient in nail polish remover
  • ammonia, a harsh chemical cleanser v
  • arsenic, a potentially fatal poison
  • butane, an ingredient in lighter fluid
  • cadmium, a metal used in batteries
  • carbon monoxide, a toxic gas emitted from vehicles
  • DDT, a toxic pesticide
  • formaldehyde, a toxic chemical used to preserve the dead
  • toluene, a toxic industrial cleanser.

The more you use tobacco, the more chemicals you ingest. This, in turn, stimulates a physical addiction as your body becomes used to ingesting so many toxic chemicals on a regular basis.

Negative Health Effects of Tobacco

Over time, as a person continues to use tobacco, he will likely start to experience negative health effects, which may include any combination of the following:

  • arthritis
  • asthma
  • atherosclerosis (clogged arteries)
  • birth defects (for children of parents who use tobacco)
  • blood clots
  • emphysema
  • heart attack
  • heart disease
  • high cholesterol
  • hypertension
  • mouth, lung and/or throat cancer
  • respiratory disease
  • stroke.

As a result, quitting smoking and use of tobacco is essential to preventing the development of dangerous and potentially fatal health problems.

Tobacco Statistics

Here are some shocking statistics on tobacco and cigarettes that display how prevalent and serious the smoking epidemic is:

  • About 1,200 people die each day due to tobacco use. This translates to over 430,000 people dying each year as a result of their tobacco use.
  • Over 800 packs of cigarettes are sold each second in the United States.
  • Someone in the world dies every 8 seconds due to tobacco use.
  • Tobacco use causes more deaths than AIDS, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, car accidents, murders and suicides COMBINED.

Why People Use Tobacco

Although tobacco is highly addictive once a person starts ingesting it, the initial reasons that people being using tobacco can vary. For example, people may start using tobacco due to:

  • anxiety
  • boredom
  • family problems
  • peer pressure
  • relationship problems
  • stress
  • work problems.

Ironically, the underlying emotional trigger that first brings a person to start using tobacco also tends to be a reason that they keep using it, creating the vicious cycle of habit that many people associated with cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Similarly, some people start associating tobacco and nicotine with specific situations, which causes them to crave tobacco when they are in them. Some examples of situations tied to smoking, chewing or otherwise using tobacco include:

  • drinking alcohol
  • driving
  • hanging out with certain friends
  • working.

Identifying what your specific emotional and situational triggers are for using tobacco is key to helping you quit.

Resources

Healthy Heart Club (n.d.). Cigarette Smoking Health Effects. Retrieved January 2, 2008 from the HHC Website: http://www.healthy-heart-guide.com/cigarette-smoking-health-effects.html.

Tooele County Health Department (n.d.). Dangerous Chemicals in Tobacco. Retrieved January 2, 2008 from the Tooele County Health Department Website: http://health.utah.gov/lhd/tooele/Community_Health/Tobacco_Prevention/Chemicals.html.