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Smoking - Why People Start and Why They Should Stop

By Anne Wolski

The epidemic of smoking-related diseases is one that only the potential victims can abolish. Smoking is among the most common habits in the Western world and this dangerous habit will kill a large number of those who engage in it.

It is amazing to think that people would continue to smoke after their first experimental cigarette which causes coughing and nausea. However, the majority of smokers enjoy the taste and smell of tobacco smoke and so they continue on with this potentially lethal habit. Sometimes the ritual of smoking creates pleasure and relaxation itself. For some people, it is a social habit and makes them feel part of the crowd. This is particularly so of people who are shy. Having something to do with their hands when in company helps them to appear more in control and self-confident.

Smokers say that smoking settles their nerves when they are stressed. Some say it also stimulates them and, in both cases, there is some truth. This is due to the nicotine or more precisely, the dose of nicotine as well as other factors. There is also a genuine physical addiction to nicotine so that when the person concerned is not able to get the drug, he or she suffers from withdrawal symptoms which are relieved only by having another cigarette.

A person can have a psychological addiction to smoking as well as the physical addiction. Although the person does not really need that cigarette, he or she misses the perceived enjoyment it used to bring. It has often become such an ingrained habit that the smoker lights up automatically without any thought about it.

In recent years, public opinion against smoking has resulted in policies to restrict the areas where smokers can engage in their habit. Many hotels, restaurants, shopping centres and workplaces have become no-smoking zones. In many places, governments are claiming damages from the billion-dollar tobacco industry to finance the ever growing costs of healthcare for smoking-related diseases.

There is definitely a strong correlation between children's smoking and the smoking habits of parents and older siblings. The family bond and the desire to be like their parents is the likely cause of this. As young children, many are very disapproving of their parents smoking habits but by the early teens, their thinking begins to change. Often, these young people identify drinking and smoking with the ideal of being an adult.

Early studies just after World War II, concluded that the main cause of lung cancer was definitely cigarette smoking. After comparing a number of variables, it was concluded that only one in two hundred male lung cancer patients were nonsmokers with a similar level of statistics found among women. Other conclusions were that the chances of dying from lung cancer increased with heavier smoking habits. More recent studies have shown that smoking is also a contributory factor in diseases such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and coronary heart disease. It has also been shown that smokers generally live a shorter lifespan than nonsmokers..

Many people are unaware that it is the toxic substances in the vaporized tar that causes the damage to smokers rather than the nicotine. These tars contain thousands of toxic chemicals, some of which are known carcinogenics. Other interesting factors include the fact that smokers are twice as likely to die before retirement age as nonsmokers. There is also some evidence that filter-tipped cigarettes reduce the risk of disease minimally but not enough to consider them a safe option.

Another area of great concern is that of passive smoking. Studies have shown that the cigarette smoke drifting from the burning end of a cigarette contains twice as much carcinogenic tar as that inhaled by the smoker.

The risks to an unborn baby of a smoking mother are also something of which people need to be aware. These mothers have a higher rate of miscarriages and stillbirths than do nonsmoking mothers.

Giving up the cigarettes is easier said than done. There are many products available which may help but, ultimately, it is a battle that the smoker needs to fight for him or her self. Resisting the temptation to have a cigarette, particularly in times of stress, is crucial. Many people give up over and over again but end up back on the smokes. For this reason, it is important to have a plan and to decide, once and for all, that it is the time to give it up. No one is saying it will be easy but millions give up every year so it can be done.

Copyright 2006 Anne Wolski

About The Author
Anne Wolski has worked in the health and welfare industry for more than 30 years.

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