Smoking: Quit now for good
(Part one of two series)
May 31 of each year is World No Tobacco Day. This year’s theme is “Ban tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship.”
The Department of Health calls on all Filipino smokers to free themselves from smoking addiction. Consider the following facts: 17.3 million current Filipino smokers aged 15 and older with 48 percent adult males were found to consume 11 sticks daily. Women smokers consume an average of seven sticks per day.
An average of P326.4 million is spent monthly on cigarettes as reported by the Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2009 (GATS-2009) or P3,916.8 billion a year. It has enormous economic and social costs and immense suffering due to tobacco-related diseases.
The World Health Organization reported one person dies every nine seconds from tobacco-related causes. The effect is likened to a global epidemic, thus a public health concern.
Smokers will live an estimated 20 to 25 fewer years than the non-smokers.
In the GATS, 36.9 percent of Filipino adult workers are found to be exposed to tobacco smoke in enclosed areas in their workplace. Two out of five Filipino students claim they live in homes where other people smoke.
Involuntary exposure to cigarette/tobacco smoke puts an individual at greater risks of lung cancer and a number of other diseases such as heart attack, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
With the passage of the Sin Tax Law and the warnings indicated in every cigarette pack, it is believed the campaign against smoking is not vigorous enough.
There are three major components of a cigarette: nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide.
Nicotine is the addictive component and is absorbed into the blood affecting the brain within 10 seconds. Tar is the thick, sticky substance and when inhaled it sticks to the cilia or tiny hairs, coating the walls of the whole respiratory system. As a consequence, it narrows the bronchioles (tubes that transport the air) and reduces the elasticity of the lungs. Carbon monoxide is the poisonous chemical found in car exhaust fumes. When inhaled, it decreases the amount of oxygen in the blood and deprives all the organs of oxygen.
There are other toxic components of cigarettes such as cadmium usually found in batteries and is extremely poisonous; acetone, a corrosive solvent found in nail polish remover; benzene, a solvent used in fuel and chemical manufacturing; formaldehyde which is used in embalming; ammonia found in cleaning fluids; hydrogen cyanide, which are used in the manufacture of plastics, dyes, and pesticides.
Everytime a smoker inhales, he sends an enormous amount of toxic chemicals into his lungs and throughout his body. Each puff affects the entire body and even the organs.
Smoking doubles the risk of stroke. The toxins in cigarettes affect the lining of the blood vessels from expanding and contracting properly and eventually lead to the reduction of blood supply to the brain or development of a clot which causes ischemic stroke. Women smokers are more vulnerable to sub-arachnoid hemorrhage stroke. The walls of the blood vessel become weak and eventually ruptures. This condition affect women smokers five times as often as non-smokers. Researchers have also pointed out the relationship between smoking and Alzheimer’s Disease, an early onset cognitive decline and dementia.
Scientists believe the toxic components in cigarette smoke react negatively with the molecules in the retina. Smokers develop macular degeneration which is the leading cause of blindness in people 65 years or older.
Smoking contributes to COPD or emphysema. This is the fourth leading cause of death, as the GATS 2009 survey indicated 71 percent of lung cancer deaths are attributed to smoking.
Studies have also shown the risk of dying of lung cancer is 20 times higher among women who smoke two or more packs of cigarettes a day than women who do not smoke. Cancers of the throat and esophagus are also much more prevalent in smokers than in non-smokers.
Smoking threatens the heart by increasing blood pressure and decreases one’s tolerance to exercise. It increases the tendency for the blood to clot, which can lead to heart attack. Smokers also are found to have higher LDL or low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels or bad cholesterol and lower HDL or high density lipoprotein of good cholesterol levels.
LDL cholesterol is the bad lipoprotein because it carries cholesterol from the liver to the bloodstream. Excess can accumulate in the arteries, clogs the blood vessels and leads to atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries which puts one at risk for a heart attack. HDL is the good lipoprotein because it carries cholesterol to the liver for removal.
More next issue.