In 1964 the U.S. Surgeon General announced that smoking caused lung cancer. This warning has since been on packs of cigarettes. From that point on the number of smokers has declined by about one percent every two years. For example, less than 26 percent of people smoked in 1990 compared to the near 40 percent that smoked in 1965. The steady decline in smoking rates following the 1964 Surgeon General’s report is evidence that knowledge of the harms caused by smoking potentiates the power to quit the habit.
At least 25 percent of all smokers die prematurely from a smoking induced illness. Those individuals lose an average of 21 years of their life. Just a few of the many cancers caused by smoking are formed in the mouth and throat area, stomach, liver, pancreas, bladder, kidney, colon, skin, and the reproductive organs. Smoking also can cause leukemia, and appears to be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, lethal heart attacks and strokes. More minor effects of smoking include reduced bone strength, greater risk of pain and injuries, hormonal abnormalities, more rapid loss of physical capacity, accelerated skin wrinkling and hair loss and graying, increased loss of vision, difficulty sleeping, heartburn, and stomach ulcers. Tobacco smokers tend to physically age more rapidly than nonsmokers, may have reduced productivity, yellow teeth, and the odor of tobacco (which clings to the individual) is unpleasant.
Smokers are not only harming themselves. The risk of cancer in individuals who live with smokers is doubled, while the smoker’s risk of cancer is also increased about 10 to 20 times. Children living with smokers also have an increased risk of coughs, colds, sore throats, ear infections, and tonsillitis. Tobacco smoke even has undesirable effects on unborn children. A smoking mother-to-be increases the risk of tubal pregnancy and low birth weight babies. She also increases the risk of her child being born with respiratory infections, asthma, and increases her risk of having a miscarriage by 27 percent. A smoker’s grandchildren may also be affected, as nonsmoking mothers whose mothers smoked during their pregnancy are 29 percent more likely to miscarry. Children who do survive without any obvious physical defects still have a higher risk of impaired thinking, a lower IQ, and behavioral problems. Researches think that this is because the tobacco alters the brain’s structure or function, affecting the nervous system. Nicotine, which is found in tobacco, also increases the risk of depression, which may increase the desire for tobacco, and a vicious cycle would result.
People are literally “dying for a cigarette,” but there are immediate benefits of quitting. Breathing becomes easier, even when exercising. Food has more flavor. Everything smells better, including those individuals who have given up their tobacco. A large amount of money will be saved, and the individual will have a feeling of satisfaction of overcoming. The lungs will also begin to heal, and as time goes on, the risk of cancers will reduce again (as compared to when smoking).
Although withdrawals are likely to result, the best way to quit is “cold turkey.” “Tapering off” and using “moderation” is not actually quitting, because the individual is still smoking, coming in contact with those harmful toxins. Quitting requires a strong will and determination. If you are a smoker, you should immediately discard the tobacco. It will only harm you in the long run. You will need a strong will and motivation. Just remember that although the withdrawals seem uncomfortable, or even painful, continuing to smoke will result in greater pain, and most likely even death. You may even want to seek help today.
[Sources: Depression and the Way Out, Proof Positive]