Just put out the facts and let the public make their own decision on the use of Tobacco products. At times revealing information and statistics is all the public needs.
Tobacco smoking is one of the most common habits prevalent throughout the world. People continue to smoke tobacco and there is very little concern for the health consequences of tobacco use. Every year smoking takes a huge toll on peoples lives, greater than any other epidemic disease like AIDS. Cardiac arrest and lung cancer are two of the potentially fatal diseases, which are directly attributed to tobacco smoking. Apart from this tobacco is also the leading cause for respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, infertility, oral diseases and other complications. A discussion on the health effects of smoking, laws pertaining to tobacco trade and some statistical insight would certainly help us get a better picture of the problem.
The Effects of Tobacco Products
Before discussing the effects of smoking cigarettes it is essential to understand the ingredients of a cigarette. There are more than 4000 chemical constituents in 'environmental tobacco smoke' and 40 of these are clearly identified to be carcinogenic agents. Benzene, Nitrogen oxides, Acetone, toluene, Hydrogen cyanide, and methylamine are just a few of the hazardous chemical components present in the tobacco smoke. Most important however is Nicotine, an addictive drug that directly affects the central nervous system. In general the tobacco smoke has both purely gaseous chemicals and particulate elements. Tar, (including nicotine) refers to the total particulate matter in the cigarette smoke. Carbon monoxide, ammonia, dimethylnitrosamine, formaldehyde are some of the pure gaseous chemicals present in the smoke. Most of the gaseous substances have proven irritant properties. Benzo (a)pyrene and Dimethylnitrosamine, two of the harmful gaseous components in the smoke are known carcinogens for lung cancer. [ASH]
Smoking and the Risk Factor
As indicated above, environmental tobacco smoke has a lot of toxic chemical particulates and gases, which create adverse health consequences, and hence the smokers are prone to a variety of diseases. Smoking has been identified as the main cause for Coronary Artery disease (CAD), which is one of the commonest heart diseases. HDL (high density lipoprotein) has the important function of clearing away the cholesterol build up in the body. However, smoking reduces the HDL levels leaving the person with increased risk for coronary heart diseases. [Guthrie] The U.S. surgeon general says "smoking is the most important of the known modifiable risk factors for CHD." [4 Corners Pharmacy] Smoking forces the heart to work harder because the Carbon monoxide in the smoke reduces the availability of oxygen in the blood. Smoking further increases the risk of thrombosis as it directly increases the platelet and fibrinogen counts which leads to thickening of the blood. There is also an increased risk for angina and heart attacks as smoking affects the arterial walls and thickens them. (Arteriosclerosis). Smokers are also most susceptible to Aneurysm, the ballooning and rupturing of the arterial walls.
Tobacco smoking and Cancer
In the United States, every year around 4,40,000 deaths result from smoking tobacco. Each year approximately 3,42,000 Americans die due to lung cancer and more than 35 million Americans are struggling with the disease. Also every year around 3000 passive smokers die due to lung cancer. [American Lung Association] As mentioned earlier tobacco has more than 4000 chemical compounds of which at least 43 have been clearly identified to be carcinogens. 90% of all cases of lung cancer are directly attributed to smoking tobacco. Smoking also damages other vital organs like liver, kidney, pancreas, uterus and the bladder. [Microsoft Encarta]
Researchers have established a direct link between in utero exposure to tobacco due to maternal cigarette smoking and the onset of asthma. In a study, which observed 5,933 children, it was found that those who had been exposed in utero to maternal smoking had a clear deficiency in lung function and a high risk of developing asthma. [FRANK D. GILLILAND]. Recent studies have also suggested a positive link between maternal smoking and behavioral disorders in children. Children who were exposed 'in utero' to maternal smoking have a greater predisposition to trying tobacco early in their lives. Dr. Cornelius who was part of the research says, "Perhaps the nervous system damage caused by maternal smoking may later be expressed as impulsivity, inattention, aggression, depression, and/or anxiety and may create a vulnerability in the child that could contribute to poorer adjustment and an increased likelihood of early initiation of tobacco use," [Josephine Thomas]
Snuff and chewable tobacco are two alternative forms of tobacco usage. A dose of snuff has more than thrice the amount of nicotine that is delivered by smoking a cigarette and hence it is considered even more harmful and addictive. Gum recession, tooth discoloration and decay are common problems with tobacco chewers. People who chew tobacco are four times more prone to developing mouth cancer. Chewing tobacco can increase the chances of Leukoplakia, a condition where patches develop in the mucous membranes. The risk of developing oral cancer (of the throat) is as high as 50 times when compared to non-chewers of tobacco. Oral cancer includes cancer of the lips, tongue, throat, cheeks, gums and the mouth floor. People with oral cancer will find it difficult to eat and hence there will be a significant weight loss associated with the condition. [MDS]
Effects of Passive Smoking
Even nonsmokers are affected considerably by indirect smoking or what is called as passive smoking. In a research study conducted by J. He et al. It was proved that non-smokers who were exposed to passive smoking had a 25% increased risk of developing coronary heart complications. [J He et al.] According to research results from the American 'Environmental Pollution Agency' passive smoking or secondhand smoking is responsible for more than 3000 lung cancer deaths each year. The agency has further quoted that passive smoking is directly responsible for around 1,50,000 to 3,00,000 cases of pneumonia and bronchitis in children every year. 'Environmental Tobacco Smoke' has clearly been proven to have a drastic effect on the respiratory health of children and worsen the condition for those who are already asthmatic. [EPA] Smoking during pregnancy affects the full growth of the baby and frequently smoking mothers give birth to underweight babies. Smoking has also been associated with premature birth. A survey conducted by 'health statistics center' indicates that smoking mothers have a 19% greater likelihood for premature deliveries and the survival rate of these babies is less compared to healthy full term babies. According to the U.S. Surgeon general, "Smoking by pregnant women may result in fetal injury, premature birth, or low birth weight." [HSC]
Tobacco products and law
Many states throughout the nation have effected laws that protect nonsmokers from the harmful effects of passive smoking. For example the New York state 'Clean Indoor Air Act', which was implemented in July 24, 2003, bans public smoking in offices, colleges and even restaurants and bars with a penalty of up to $1,000 for violation. [New York State Department of Health] Similarly Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Arkansas have also passed 'smoke free workplace' laws. Cigarette taxes are on the increase and New Jersey leads the nation with a tax of $2.05 per pack of cigarette. More than 15 states have cigarette tax of more than $1 per pack. Age restrictions are in place in many states for access to tobacco. In New Jersey for example sale of tobacco to youths below 21 years of age is banned. New York State has also banned sale of tobacco via the internet as minors have easy access to the product through this medium. Many other states like Arizona, California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Missouri, Rhode Island and Virginia have also followed suit and restricted Internet sales of tobacco. Recently the U.S. has also signed the 'Global Tobacco treaty', which is considered as a significant positive step in limiting the harmful impact of the tobacco industry [American Lung Association]
Each year more than 4,40,0000 die due to tobacco related diseases involving more than $75 billion in medical costs and $82 billion in terms of loss of productivity. 35,000 lives are lost due to passive smoking. Around 8.6 million people have a serious illness that is directly attributable to tobacco smoking. Currently 23% of U.S. adult population smoke and on average smokers loose 13 to 14 years of their lives. Each year Lung cancer and coronary heart diseases (due to smoking) account for 124,813 and 81,976 deaths respectively [American Lung Association]. As per the 2000 National household survey more than 7.6 million people used 'smokeless tobacco' and it is more common with people in the 18-25-age category. Men (6.5% of those above 12 years) were 10 times more likely to use smokeless tobacco products compared to women (.5%). Apart from contributing to hypertension, angina, ulcers and other disorders smokeless tobacco is identified as one of the chief causes for oral cancers. More than 30,000 new cases of…