Most teens are aware that people who have smoked for a while can get lung cancer and emphysema and eventually die, but many don’t know about all of the bad things that smoking can do to them right now. If you smoke, you owe it to yourself to find out about the effects of smoking on your life now.
Why is smoking unhealthy for me?
According to research done by the CDC (Center for Disease Control), there are more deaths caused by smoking than by all of the following combined: HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, car accidents, and firearm-related incidents.
8.6 million people live with a serious illness caused by smoking and on average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.
Each cigarette contains about 7000 chemicals, many of which are poisonous and about 70 cause cancer. Some of the worst ones are:
- Nicotine: a deadly poison
- Arsenic: used in rat poison
- Methane: a component of rocket fuel
- Ammonia: found in floor cleaner
- Cadmium: used in batteries
- Carbon Monoxide: part of car exhaust
- Formaldehyde: used to preserve body tissue
- Butane: lighter fluid
- Hydrogen Cyanide: the poison used in gas chambers
Every time a person inhales smoke from a cigarette, small amounts of these chemicals get into their blood through their lungs. The chemicals are then transported by the blood to different parts of the body and cause harm.
Facts about smoking:
Even small amounts of the poisonous chemicals in cigarettes can do bad things to your body.
- Smoking stains teeth, and causes bad breath and wrinkles.
- Smokers get 3 times more cavities than non-smokers.
- Smoking lowers hormone levels.
- When smokers catch a cold, they are more likely than non-smokers to have a cough that lasts a long time. They are also more likely than non-smokers to get bronchitis and pneumonia.
- Teen smokers have smaller lungs and a weaker heart than teen non-smokers. They also get sick more often than teens who don’t smoke.
What happens to a person’s lungs when they smoke?
Every time a smoker inhales a cigarette, some of the alveoli (air sacks in the lungs) die. Alveoli are important because they transfer oxygen from the lungs into the blood which then carries oxygen to other organs in the body. This is dangerous because the alveoli won’t grow back so when they are destroyed, part of a person’s lungs will not function anymore. People with lung disease have problems doing physical activities such as sports, dancing, or singing.
Smoking paralyzes the cilia that line the lungs. Cilia are little hair like structures that move back and forth to sweep particles out of the lungs. When a person smokes, the cilia can’t move and thus can’t do their job. So dust, pollen, and other things that are inhaled just sit in the lungs and build up. Also, there are a lot of particles in smoke that get into the lungs. If the cilia can’t move, the particles stay in the lungs and form tar.
Why do people smoke if it’s so bad for them?
Some people like the feeling that smoking gives them. This temporary feeling is from the nicotine in the cigarettes. Some teens think smoking will help them lose weight or stay thin, but this isn’t true.
- Smokers get sick more often. They are also at risk for having chronic breathing problems such as emphysema and lung cancer. Most people agree that the temporary feeling from nicotine isn’t worth the risk of getting serious health problems.
- Smoking doesn’t really help people lose weight. If that were true, every smoker would be thin.
- Each day, more than 3,200 people under 18 smoke their first cigarette, and approximately 2,100 youth and young adults become daily smokers.
How do tobacco companies get teens to start smoking?
Think about it this way: When a person decides to start smoking, the tobacco companies are happy because they spend millions of dollars every year on advertising to try to get new people, especially teens, to smoke. Once a person is hooked on smoking, they are forced to buy cigarettes to support their addiction. Ask yourself: Do I really want a big corporation controlling my life and telling me how to spend my money?
Can a person stop smoking if they’re addicted to cigarettes?
Many people don’t realize they are addicted to smoking. They think they can easily quit any time they want. But when they try, they forget it is extremely hard. Unfortunately, it is very easy to get addicted. Cigarettes are just as addictive as cocaine or heroin. Even if you only smoke one or two cigarettes a day and even if you’ve never bought a pack of cigarettes yourself, you are at risk. Stressful situations or hanging out with friends who smoke might cause a person to smoke more and become addicted. If you smoke, try going a whole week without smoking at all. If you find this challenge to be very hard, you are probably addicted to cigarettes.
When is the best time to quit smoking?
A lot of people put off quitting smoking, thinking that they’ll do it when the time is right. Only 5% of teens think they will still be smoking in 5 years. Actually, about 75% of them are still smoking more than five years later. If you smoke, it will never seem like the right time to quit and quitting will never be easy. The longer you smoke, the harder it will be to stop and the more damage you will do to your body.
Here are some reasons to quit sooner rather than later:
- Most teens would rather date a non-smoker.
- You’ll save money if you quit smoking. A pack of cigarettes in the U.S. costs over $9.00. Even if you only smoke a couple packs a week, you’re spending about $100 per month and $1200 per year on smoking. Think of all the other things you could use that money for.
- You only have one pair of lungs. Any damage you do to them now will be with you for the rest of your life.
- The longer you smoke, the better your chances are of dying from it. One out of 3 smokers die from smoking and many more become very sick. Think about your friends who smoke. 1/3 of them will die from smoking if none of you quit.
What are E-Cigarettes?
E- Cigarettes is short for “electronic” or battery operated smoking products that are made to look like; cigarettes, cigars, pipes and/or pens. Nicotine that is normally found in regular smoking products is made into a vapor that is inhaled. It’s important to know that E-cigarettes are NOT safer than regular cigarettes because they have not been studied nor approved by the FDA, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (the government organization that tests the safety of cigarettes, medicine, and food).