May is known as anti-tobacco month with World No Tobacco Day celebrated on the 31st of the month. The purpose of this day is to encourage smokers to quit and to educate them on the cessation therapies and services available. It also serves to highlight all the health risks associated with the habit.
Tobacco is dangerous to your health! End of! There is no denying it, and there is no justifying it. It brings with it multiple health risks and can cause damage to nearly every organ in the body. That is why so many believe that more drastic anti-smoking measures need to be implemented not only in Africa but throughout the world. Lives are at stake!
Smokers are at high risk of developing more than 50 severe health conditions. Some of these conditions may be fatal, and others can cause long-term irreversible damage to your health. A smoker can become ill through this horrible habit or create illness to others who unwillingly become passive smokers.
Smoking is the cause of seven out of every 10 cases of lung cancer, and it also causes cancer in many other parts of the body. These include mouth, throat, larynx, oesophagus, stomach, liver, kidneys, pancreas, cervix, bowel, bladder, reproductive organs, skin and even the eyes.
Smoking damages the heart and blood circulation, increasing the risk of strokes, heart attacks and developing conditions such as coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease and cerebrovascular disease.
Smoking can also cause non-repairable damage to blood vessels and blood cells. Studies show that the chemicals in ciggies can increase a person’s risk of atherosclerosis (build-up of plaque in the blood vessels) which limits blood flow and can result in dangerous blockages. Smoking also increases the risk of peripheral artery disease (PAD), which occurs when the arteries to the arms and legs start to narrow and restricts blood flow. When one is afflicted with PAD, the chances of developing blood clots, angina and chest pains increase substantially.
Believe it or not, smoking can even damage the reproductive system in both males and females. For women, the damage can be so severe that it makes falling pregnant difficult. This has been attributed to the fact that tobacco and various other chemicals found in cigarettes affect hormone levels. In males, the more and longer an individual smokes, the higher the risk of erectile dysfunction. In addition, smoking can also affect the quality of sperm which has a direct impact on fertility.
Smoking during pregnancy is putting your baby’s health at risk! Lighting up while pregnant also puts the mother at risk of developing pregnancy and birth-related complications. These include:
Secondhand smoke comes from the tip of a lit cigarette and the smoke that the smoker breaths out. Breathing in secondhand smoke, also known as passive smoking, increases one’s risk of getting the same health conditions as smokers. For example, if you have never smoked, but you have a spouse who smokes, your risk of developing lung cancer increases by about 25%.
Babies and children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke. A child who is exposed to passive smoke is at an increased risk of developing chest infections, meningitis, persistent cough, and asthma. If they already have the latter their symptoms, and suffering, will inevitably get worse. They are also at increased risk of cot death and a particular kind of ear infection known as glue ear.
Cigarette smoke contains around 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which have been proven to cause cancer. The detrimental effects of tobacco use may be wide and varied, but all have share one common trait – they have a direct impact on every user’s health. Furthermore, smokers are known to die significantly earlier than non-smokers with the current estimate being that they have a 14-year shorter lifespan than their smokeless peers. There is a reason that a synonym for a cigarette is coffin nail!
Ironic isn’t it? That while scientists and medical experts continuously strive to find innovative ways to prolong lives, millions choose to ignore the hard facts and continue to light up!
If you are in the latter group, take a long, hard look around! Think about what you are doing to yourself and your loved ones every time to take a drag of your cancer stick. Remember it’s never too late to stop! And today is a good a day as any!