Cigarette smoking is considered as an important health concern. This is because it is a leading cause of health complication for both the smoker and the innocent persons who are around them. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that cigarette smoke increases mortality rate by as much as three times since it results in difficult to treat and manage health conditions such as vascular diseases, respiratory ailments, and cancer. In fact, it is considered as the cause of the largest number of deaths, accounting for 20% of all deaths, which amounts to more than 480,000 deaths annually to include 201,773 females and 278,544 males. The most distressing aspect of this data is that it includes secondhand smokers whose only wrongdoing was being in the vicinity of a firsthand smoker (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Therefore, cigarette smoking causes adverse health effects, pollution problem, and premature death.
As earlier indicated, cigarette smoke is a leading cause of many mental and physical problems to include diseases. Firstly, smokers run the risk of suffering addiction. This is because the tobacco that is found in cigarettes contains nicotine, a highly addictive substance. The nicotine creates dependency and tolerance in the body such that a smoker is forced to gradually increasing numbers of cigarettes on subsequent occasions. In essence, the body tolerance to the nicotine makes it such that the individual has to smoke more cigarettes to receive the same high. Also, the addiction creates dependence such that the smoker presents withdrawal symptoms in the form of shivers, muscle spasms and body cramps in case he or she goes for long periods of time without smoking. Also, it is an expensive activity since the addicted individual prioritizes the purchase of cigarettes. Besides that, treating cigarette addiction is an expensive activity since the individual will require admission to a health facility, thereby diverting health funds (Bijlefeld and Zoumbaris 88; Gielen et al. 116). In this respect, cigarette smoke is responsible for causing addiction among smokers.
The American Cancer Society similarly contends that tobacco is very addictive, making the users to compulsively and repeatedly seek it even when faced with unwanted consequences and harmful effects. In this case, nicotine is considered as the active substance. Small amounts of nicotine cause the smoker to have a pleasant feeling of alertness and awake that later translates into relaxation and calmness, which positively reinforces the need for more nicotine. The nicotine then finds its way into the central nervous system and brain where it affects the smoker’s mood through a reward circuit that involves adrenaline and dopamine production to raise the blood pressure and speed up the heart. The effect wears off within a very short period, causing the smoker to light up more cigarettes to sustain the effect for longer. Once an individual has become dependent on the nicotine, he or she will suffer mental and physical withdrawal symptoms that will only get worse of they are unable to get nicotine. The symptoms will include insomnia, headaches, nervousness, and irritability. It is vital to remember that nicotine is a muscle relaxant that can be poisonous if taken in large amounts since it will cause the diaphragm muscles to relax and the individual to stop breathing (American Cancer Society). Therefore, the addictive effective of nicotine within tobacco smoke is seen to have negative effects on both the physical and mental health.
Secondly, smoking is responsible for causing premature death. The smoke is noted as a risk factor for the occurrence of other health conditions that significantly lower life expectancy and increase the mortality rate. In this case, smokers are noted to have lower life expectancies (by an average of ten years) when compared to their counterparts who have the similar demographic characteristics with the only difference being exposure to cigarette smoke. Among male smokers, the risk of dying from bronchus, lung and trachea cancer is increased by more than 23 times, the risk of dying from emphysema and bronchitis is increased by 17 times, and the risk of dying from coronary heart disease is increased by four times. The risks are lower for female smokers since they are twelve times more likely to die from emphysema and bronchitis, more than twelve times more likely to die from bronchus, lung, and trachea cancer, and five times more likely to die from coronary heart disease. Other research studies had reinforced this results, revealing that a smoker who quit before he or she turned force reduced their probability of dying from a smoke related medical condition by as much as 90%. The lower life expectancy and the higher mortality rate is not only true for smokers, but also for secondhand smokers. In fact, more than 41,000 people die annually in the US from smoke related conditions even though they were not smokers themselves. These numbers include 33,951 dying every year from heart-related complications while 7,333 die every year from lung cancer contracted as a result of exposure to cigarette smoke. The implication is that smoking a significant risk factor for the occurrence of lung and heart medical conditions that result in death among both firsthand and secondhand smokers (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). As a result, cigarette smoke is responsible for causing premature death.
Thirdly, cigarette smoke is a documented and acknowledged pollutant. In fact, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, US Surgeon General, and US Environmental Protection Agency all classify tobacco smoke is a carcinogenic air pollutant. This is because inhaling secondhand smoke has been shown to cause the occurrence of lung cancer among nonsmokers while being in proximity with a smoker on a regular basis increases the secondhand smoker’s chance of developing lung cancer by as much as 30%. The air pollution by cigarette smoke increases the risk of stroke by 30% and the risk of heart disease by 30%. These effects are not restricted to any age group, occurring across all age groups. Fetuses are not spared from these effects with research indicating that pregnant women who are exposed to cigarette smoke as either firsthand or secondhand smokers have a very high risk of giving birth prematurely to underweight babies. Exposing children to cigarette smoke worsens their asthma symptoms and increases their risk of developing bronchitis, pneumonia, colds, and ear infections. The implication is that placing a ban on smoking and creating smoke-free zones would reduce a number of carcinogenic air pollutants in the environment and allow for the development of a healthier community that lives longer and spends less on health-related costs (Coughlin, Anderson and Smith 3-4).
The research into the position that cigarette smoke plays in air pollution is borne by other researches. In this case, Repace (889) conducted a measure of the particulate aromatic hydrocarbons and respirable particles in smoking areas to indicate that non-smoking areas have more than 179 μg/m3 of respirable particles, twenty-three times more than what is recorded in smoking areas at 7.7 μg/m3. The same is true for particulate aromatic hydrocarbons in which case non-smoking areas are noted to have amounts averaging 6.32 ng/m3 while smoking areas have almost ten times the same amount at 61.7 ng/m3. Repace (905) conducted further analysis in which it was noted that cigarette smoke accounted for as much as 95% of the carcinogenic particulate aromatic hydrocarbons found in the air. In this respect, it can be accepted that cigarette smoke is a significant air pollutant.
One must accept that despite cigarette smoking being a common habit, it has serious implications for both firsthand and secondhand smokers. This is because the smoke contains chemicals that increase mortality rate and lower life expectancy. Also, one must acknowledge that the addictive effects of nicotine that is found in cigarettes have a negative effect on both physical and mental health. Besides that, cigarette smoke causes premature death by increasing the risk factor for the occurrence of life-threatening health conditions among smoke inhalers. Also, one must accept that cigarette smoke is a source of pollutant by reducing the amount of available respirable particles and increasing the amount of carcinogenic particulate aromatic hydrocarbons thereby making it difficult to breathe. In this respect, it becomes apparent that the effect of cigarette smoke and nicotine on the body is extremely damaging. Therefore, cigarette smoking causes adverse health effects, pollution problem, and premature death.
American Cancer Society. Is smoking tobacco addictive? Author. 2015. Web. 19 Nov. 2015. <http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/tobaccocancer/questionsaboutsmokingtobaccoandhealth/questions-about-smoking-tobacco-and-health-is-tobacco-addictive>.
Bijlefeld, Marjolijin and Sharon Zoumbaris. Food and You: A guide to healthy habits for teens. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2001. Print.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco-Related Mortality. Author. 18 Aug. 2015. Web. 19 Nov. 2015. <http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/tobacco_related_mortality/>.
Coughlin, Steven, Jennifer Anderson, and Selina Smith. “Legislative Smoking Bans for Reducing Exposure to Secondhand Smoke and Smoking Prevalence: Opportunities for Georgians.” Journal of the Georgia Public Health Association. 5.1 (2015): 2-7.
Gielen, Stephan, Guy Backer, Massimo Piepoli and David Wood. The Esc Textbook of Preventive Cardiology: Clinical Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. Print.
Repace, James. Respirable Particles and Carcinogens in the Air of Delaware Hospitality Venues before and after a Smoking Ban. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 46.9 (2004): 887–905.