According to the CDC, there are over 480,000 deaths per year from cigarette smoking in the United States. Today, it continues to be just as dangerous.
Over the years, cigarettes have taken the lives of many Americans. Many have succumbed to the dangerous effects that have interfered with daily living. Most people are unaware of the dangers it’s doing to their bodies, while others are just stuck in their addiction.
What’s Inside Cigarettes?
Cigarettes are made from dried leaves of the tobacco plant – nicotiana. The tobacco plant usually has long oval-shaped leaves and comes in a variety of different colors. Despite its beauty, it contains nicotine – a highly addictive and dangerous chemical. Besides nicotine, cigarettes contain over 7,000 chemicals including:
- Ammonia: A colorless gas comprised of hydrogen and nitrogen. It’s usually used as a household cleaner.
- Carbon Monoxide: A colorless, odorless gas that is made through the burning of fuel.
- Arsenic: A chemical element found in nature. It’s sometimes used in pesticides and rat poison.
- Acetone: A colorless, flammable chemical, mostly found in nail polish remover.
- Lead: A metal element that is heavy, blue to gray in color, and found on the earth’s crust. It’s mostly used in batteries.
- Formaldehyde: A colorless gas with a pungent odor used as an embalming fluid to preserve bodies.
- Benzene: A colorless chemical found in crude oil and gasoline.
- Cadmium: An element found in the earth’s crust and mostly used in batteries.
- Methanol: Flammable, toxic alcohol that’s used in solvents and fuel.
- Tar: A thick, dark substance that is sticky and used for paving roads.
These chemicals, and many others, are harmful to the body, as a few are carcinogens, poisons, and toxic metals. Over time, they can work together to form long-lasting effects on your health, including numerous diseases.
Effects of Cigarettes to the Human Body
Long term use of cigarettes can eventually lead to death, but not before certain diseases wreak havoc on your body. Cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, stroke, heart disease, asthma, and diabetes. It can also lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – a group of inflammatory lung diseases that blocks the airway and prevents proper breathing.
If you’re a woman who is pregnant, the unborn child might develop significant health risks. A baby can also grow up with health problems as they age, including cerebral palsy and developmental delays.
Your baby could be born too early, have a birth defect, or die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).CDC
Cigarettes can also affect your outside appearance. People who smoke are likely to age faster, meaning they look older than their actual age. It’s important to understand how the features you love the most can change over time.
- Mouth: You’re more likely to develop stained teeth, bad breath, and gum disease, which will increase the risk of tooth loss. You’re also at risk for mouth and throat cancer.
- Skin: Your skin loses collagen and elasticity, causing premature aging and wrinkles. There’s the risk of skin cancer, dull skin color, skin disorders, and improper wound healing due to the lack of blood flow (vasoconstriction).
- Hair: Hair may begin to thin or eventually fall out due to poor blood circulation because of the chemicals in cigarettes damaging hair follicles.
- Weight: It’s possible to have a lower body weight because cigarettes burn calories. If you smoke, you may also suffer from a decreased appetite.
- Eyes: Your eyes can become damaged, irritated, and dry because of the chemicals in cigarette smoke. There is also an increased risk of cataracts.
- Ears: The nicotine in cigarettes encroaches on the inner ear by restricting blood flow and affecting your hearing. You risk ear infections and hearing loss.
Even if you do not smoke, you may still be at risk from second-hand smoke. This is inhaling smoke that has already been exhaled from another person. However, third-hand smoke is residue from cigarettes that remain on different surfaces. Both can be just as damaging to your health.
What Can Be Done to End Cigarette Smoking?
Because cigarettes are so addicting, it can be difficult to quit. But just because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Many people have created successful ways to keep it from being a permanent part of their lives.
Outlining a plan to put an end to cigarette smoking can be a great start. You might even take it a step further by seeking help and encouragement from others who were once smokers themselves. It may seem like it’ll take some time, but you’ll realize that you’re giving your health a fighting chance.
There is also the option of quitting cold turkey. You can turn the cigarette you just got done smoking into your very last cigarette. It definitely won’t be easy, but you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you put forth extreme measures, just to take back control of your life.
If you are someone who wants to quit smoking, remember that it’s never too late. Be sure to take advantage of any helpful resources that may be available to you. You can also check out the quitline: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).