WHY CIGARETTES ARE DANGEROUS AND WHY YOU SHOULD QUIT NOW!
For smokers, to hear people telling them to stop smoking must be a broken record by now. Everyone must be saying that cigarettes are dangerous, not only to them, but also everyone around them. It is easier said than done, cliché but true. So if you want to make a smoker to quit, other than just stating the obvious, you might want to start telling them, with facts and statistics, exactly why it is dangerous.
Experts from the Health Education Authority (UK) say, tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 different chemicals, with at least 43 of them are found to cause cancer. Among these chemicals, the most talked about are tar and nicotine.
The answer is YES. Even though the tar that is found in a cigarette is not the same one used to build roads, that is not an excuse for a relief just yet. While having an external effect by marking the smokers’ teeth and fingers with hideous yellow-brown stains, the same tar is also the primary cause for cancer-related diseases. If that is not scary enough, the NHS in Scotland has also found it as a culprit that could narrow down our bronchioles (which are supposed to help you absorb oxygen), and damage our cilia (which protects our lungs from dirt and infection).
Now what is up with tar’s bff – the nicotine? In general, nicotine is a stimulant drug that speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and body. In simpler word, it is supposed to help you focus. And while this natural compound is addictive, that is not what makes it dangerous, surprisingly. Just a slightly too much of it could cause you countless harms. According to the US FDA, nicotine could disrupt teen’s normal brain development and cause long-lasting effects, affecting your mood and impulsivity, and not in a good way. The negative impact of nicotine in pregnant moms is even greater. It could cause low birth weight and even lead to respiratory failures.
But how does such a tiny paper stick could contain such hazardous ingredients? The answer is burning, aka the ultimate agent of disaster.
When tobacco is burned, it creates over 7,000 dangerous new chemicals, and just one puff could also release more than 70 cancer-causing chemicals! And as these puffs are released to the surroundings, they bring with them a long list of chronic smoking-related diseases such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), heart diseases, stroke and many more – harming not only the smokers, but also anyone that passes by and shares the same polluted air!
If these 7,000 reasons are not enough, or they’ve tried and failed after so many attempts, they should avoid cigarettes that contain tobacco AND involve burning. Switch to less risky options, like the e-cigarettes or HNB (heat-not-burn) alternatives that do not burn tobaccos, thus do not produce carbon monoxide and other dangerous chemicals.
Before more from the list of diseases start to play catch-up with you, do yourself and your loved ones a big favour – tell that man in the mirror, stop singing and start acting!
CONSIDER TOBACCO HARM REDUCTION?
Here’s a little inconvenient truth to ponder over: according to the United States Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), smoking is said to be the leading cause of preventable death.
To put things into perspective on the gravity of the situation, 15% of deaths worldwide are attributed to smoking. While there are presently an approximate 1.3 billion smokers worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that tobacco use causes over 7 million deaths per year across the globe. If this continues in an uptrend, those figures will climb to more than 8 million deaths by the year 2030… That is a lot of preventable deaths we could - and should - avoid.
So why the number keeps climbing despite campaigns after campaigns that have been running for the past few decades?
It all starts with education and awareness. This stretches across the board from policy makers, to the media and of course, the general public.
The lack of education and awareness presents a huge kink in the chain in streamlining accurate and clear communication down the line on the exact harm that a cigarette can bring to the users.
This creates a bottleneck as government bodies aren’t able to make informed decisions and implement regulations or policies that will allow the smokers to make a better choice. Easy said than done for one to quit smoking, perhaps we should start to look at the propagation of tobacco harm reduction (THR), whether it be innovation or education.
THR is a pragmatic approach designed to assist smokers who are struggling to quit or are unwilling to stop, by encouraging them to switch to less harmful alternatives of nicotine-use. This approach would help reduce the harm of smoking related diseases, and ideally result in an eventual quitting of nicotine-use altogether.
Inevitably, this then trickles down the line, affecting the smoking community themselves as without access to clear, accurate and truthful information on the benefits and risks, smokers are withheld from making better life choices. The phrase “knowledge is power” rings true in this case, with knowledge holding literal power to turn lives around.
Ultimately, without structural regulations in place or proper channels to educate, the willingness of smokers to adopt behavioural change will be impeded, and therefore drawing the gap further from the world, reducing the number of deaths caused by tobacco.
WITH ALL THAT’S BEEN SAID...
The road towards this journey isn’t one that is far-fetched. All we need is a little more time, patience, and understanding, especially among the tobacco industry and the relevant government regulatory bodies.
And while the authority and power lies primarily in the hands of policy makers who set the tone for its citizens, change and advocacy can also start with you. By reading this article, you are already one step closer to grasping the importance of tobacco harm reduction. And by knowing the harm that cigarette brings to you as well as the people surrounding you, it is probably the time for you to explore other better alternatives rather than continuing to smoke cigarettes.
Together, let’s empower, encourage and equip one another to embark on this journey!
SMOKING ALTERNATIVES WOVEN INTO THE FABRICS OF SOCIETY
With the origins of smoking traced back to as early as 5000 BC, smoking has had a remarkably long period of time to be cultivated into a habitual, social and cultural phenomenon that has transcended generations. It’s no wonder why breaking the chain of smoking is going to take tremendous effort despite people already knowing the detrimental effects smoking presents.
We all know that the main culprit causing the most damage when smoking, is tobacco - specifically, the burning of tobacco. There are over 7,000 chemicals found in cigarette smoke including infamous toxicants such as carcinogen, tar and carbon monoxide to name a few that contribute to an array of damaging illnesses leading to premature deaths.
Nonetheless, it is the distinctly addictive nicotine content that is naturally found in tobacco that entraps many in an unfortunate cycle of coming back and wanting more. Nicotine is responsible for releasing dopamine into brain cell receptors, making people feel good and craving more. In other words, nicotine is like the yin to tobacco’s yang. The two, in the case of cigarettes are dependent on one another, making smoking cessation an impeccably arduous habit to break.
So, while the best thing any smoker can do is to quit smoking tobacco and nicotine entirely, the reality is, it’s not that simple - but, baby steps!
THE GAME PLAN
With the evolution of science and technology, we have seen incredible breakthroughs that have set us on a trajectory aimed towards achieving the goal. Scientists have worked tirelessly to develop strategies and various alternatives to aid in this mission.
So, what are the options?
There are many alternatives available in the global market that serve as potential tobacco harm reduction vehicles, including:
(Before reading any further, it’s important to note that while these products are not risk-free, they do however contain significantly lower levels of toxicants, thus, reducing harm to the human body.)
Examples: Vape, vape pens, e-hookah, e-pipe, e-cigars and many more.
What is it: A battery-operated device that does not contain tobacco. Instead, it works by heating an e-liquid to emit a vaporized solution upon inhalation to simulate tobacco smoking (but with relatively less harmful vapor!). The e-liquid typically contains a mixture of chemicals, artificial flavourings, and nicotine. However, options for non-nicotine e-cigarettes are also available.
2. Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs)
Examples: IQOS, Ploom TECH, PAX, Glo and many more.
What is it: HTPs are devices that employ battery-powered heating systems to heat tobacco to produce nicotine. Unlike cigarettes, HTPs do not burn tobacco, but as its name implies, heats it before allowing it to reach its combustion point.
3. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
Examples: Nicotine infused products such as gum, patches, lozenges, inhalers and more.
What is it: A commonly used, medically approved method that administers nicotine to a user without the harmful chemicals found in tobacco. NRT comes in many sizes, shapes, and forms, designed to help those who quit smoking - especially those who suffer from severe nicotine withdrawal symptoms. NRTs are widely available at pharmacies.
4. Smokeless Tobacco
Examples: Snus, snuff tobacco or chewing tobacco.
What is it: Smokeless tobacco supplies nicotine without the combustion of tobacco and is administered either orally or nasally. As it does not involve the combustion of tobacco, therefore presenting no risks without smoke inhalation, smokeless tobacco is generally considered less harmful than smoking cigarettes - albeit, addictive.
With so many available alternatives in the market, users have ample opportunity to select which option works best to help reduce tobacco harm. Fundamentally, it all boils down to your personal preference, whether in taste, texture, or experience, as well as what is presently accessible to them in their local market.
SMOKING CANCELS OUT VACCINES?
Vaccination has become one of the most talked about topics nowadays, not only in our country but worldwide. Some countries, especially in Europe, have achieved herd immunity, where majority of their citizens are vaccinated, enabling most social activities to carry on as they used to, allowing them to go back to their old normal lifestyle with close to no restrictions. Aren’t we all envious with that?
However, there remain some questions regarding the vaccination. Some endless rumours keep spreading about the do’s and don’ts before and after the procedure. The biggest one that could linger especially among smokers is, does smoking weaken the effects of vaccine?
Well, the general answer is no. There is no known evidence that smoking, be it tobacco or vape, to have a direct interference with the efficacy of the vaccine. However, that should not be taken as an endorsement to continue smoking. In fact, it should be the contrary. We are aware that vaccines do not totally stop Covid-19 from re-infecting someone. We also know that smokers have higher risk of experiencing sever illnesses if contracted with the virus, as their lungs capacity will greatly decrease compared to clean, healthy lungs. Even though there are no proven studies, but some medical experts shared the same opinions that smoking could affect our immune system, thus tampering with the course of the two vaccines.
That is why some developed countries like the USA decided to prioritise smokers for vaccination – not to encourage them, but to reduce harms from the potentially worse symptoms that could hit them, which may cost the governments even more in the long run.
Having said that, this period of pandemic should be seen as an opportunity to quit smoking. Keep our body clear from harmful substances, as we do not know how bad the virus could affect us even in a healthy state. If that is too challenging, try slowing down on cigarettes and vapes, at least throughout this pandemic. Allow our system to fight infections optimally. Because when all this ends, all we really want is to be able to breathe in fresher air, with no face masks getting in the way… let alone cigarettes.
ADDICTION FOR DUMMIES
Smoking cigarettes could harm nearly every organ in your body, especially your heart. Statistics have shown that nearly one-third of heart-related deaths are from smoking and second-hand smoke. It has proven to cause cancer, stroke, lung diseases and many other critical illnesses. “Do not start” – we’ve all heard it before. And if you have started, you should quit. But what if you can’t?
The addiction to cigarette smoking is as real as it gets. So, what do you do if you can’t quit smoking – even if you are aware of how dangerous it is, yet still cannot call it quits. What if we told you, smoking has made technological leaps and bounds in reducing the harm – providing a safe option compared to your traditional packet cigarettes in recent years.
According to the UK National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), it is primarily the toxins and carcinogens in tobacco smoke – not the nicotine, as we’ve been told – that causes illness and ultimately death. An increasing number of scientists and experts worldwide have agreed that the toxic compounds, other than nicotine, are generated by the burning of tobacco – being the main culprit.
One of the most popular alternatives would be vape devices. It’s easily available, doesn’t produce an absurd amount of stinking smoke, and is significantly safer too. How you ask? Vapes heat the liquid instead of burning tobacco. The battery will power up the coil and then heats up all the chemicals from the flavoured liquid, including nicotine (yes, including most of those that claim to be nicotine-free), propylene glycol, glycerine, and many others.
Another alternative that’s recently making waves are heated tobacco products. Though it may look like your traditional cigarettes, the technology behind it is far superior and safer for the user including those around them. This heated tobacco product HEATS the stick that’s inserted into a device rather than burning the tobacco, to create the sensation. And as there are barely any compounds that are burned, it only produces vapour instead of smoke - that even a smoke detector won’t detect it. What’s more – without its device, it will not light up even if you burn it with fire, making it fool-proof and protected from children.
There are more and more alternatives made available in the market each day. Nevertheless, no matter what you choose; whether it is the less harmful e-cigarettes that heat liquid instead of tobacco, or the more efficient heated tobacco products that heat tobacco instead of burning it; what matters the most is for you to start making the change and make the world a better place, for you and for me and the entire... well, you get the point.