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The Causes and Effects of Smoking

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Despite the fact that cigarette smoking is harmful to one’s health, a fact that smokers know too well, most people experience difficulties in their attempt to quit smoking. Whereas one is free to choose whether to smoke or not, the decision to quit is not always straightforward. Quitting requires willpower and personal commitment in order to overcome this harmful habit. Although most smokers feel good during and after smoking, there are no documented health advantages. This essay shall explore the reasons why people smoke and the effects of smoking on the human body.

There are various reasons why people choose to smoke. First, most smokers take cigarettes in order to avoid stressful thoughts. Cigarettes contain nicotine which acts as a stimulant thus alleviating one’s emotional condition. Hence, it can deflect one’s sad thoughts, fears and anxieties.  Once nicotine is inhaled, it is rapidly absorbed in the lungs and directly into the bloodstream. On reaching the brain, it decomposes into various chemicals that have the effect of making the smoker feel light-headed, stress-free and contented with his or her current situation. On the other hand, those suffering from withdrawal symptoms exhibit excessive aggression, increased hostility, anger and anxiety. A recent report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that such people are likely to be sad or violent. When an individual quits smoking, it is imperative that he/she keeps away from stressful conditions that would otherwise generate an increased craving for cigarettes (Colby 1).

Secondly, most smokers start smoking in order to fit in. A soon-to-be smoker’s environment may be heavily influenced by parents or friends who are regular smokers. For instance, it is a well-known fact that most people start smoking during their teenage years. Peer pressure is responsible for recruiting new smokers, who then become life-long cigarette consumers. In addition, teenagers and the youth tend to idolize and emulate the actions of celebrities and other well-known societal figures. Hence, when celebrities appear in adverts or movies while smoking, the young generation picks up this habit believing that it is fashionable. Once one becomes a regular smoker, it becomes almost impossible to quit.

Finally, some people may start smoking when experiencing a transition phase. Individuals have been known to start smoking when undergoing stressful situations or significant changes in their lives. For instance, a recently divorced man may turn to alcohol and cigarettes in order to avoid thinking about his predicament. Furthermore, stressed and overburdened employees may choose to take breaks at specific intervals during which they share cigarettes as they converse about their situation. Therefore, a non-smoker is soon initiated in the group as this symbolizes a common bond of friendship. In addition, some smoke in order to calm their nerves. Although nicotine’s soothing effects do not last long, a smoker derives a sense of confidence and calmness when facing situations that make one anxious or exited (Ditcher 1).

Smoking exposes individuals to various risks. Cigarette smoking is not only detrimental to one’s health, but also harmful to one’s physique and teeth. Most effects are a result of the chemical compounds found in tobacco. First, tobacco contains tar, which is a collective term for various solid particles that are found in cigarette smoke. Studies have shown that when an individual smokes for a considerably long time, tar accumulates in the lung and may eventually lead to cancer. In addition, tar contains sticky compounds which lead to stained teeth, fingernails, nasal passages and trachea, and scarred lung tissue. Secondly, tobacco smoke contains carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless fatal gas. This gas competes with oxygen for hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Hence, by bonding with these cells, less oxygen reaches vital body organs such as the heart, brains and muscles that require an adequate supply of oxygen. Thirdly, tobacco smoke contains hydrogen cyanide, a chemical that slows down the respiratory system’s regulatory scheme. Lungs and the bronchioles contain tiny hairs referred to as cilia that sweep back and forth in order to remove foreign objects in these air passages and spaces. Once these hairs are inhibited from carrying this all-important duty, air passages clog with foreign materials, resulting in respiratory difficulties and infections. In addition, tobacco smoke contains free radicals, metals and radioactive compounds which damage vital organs such as the heart and lead to the rupture of blood vessels.  Metals such as cadmium and lead are carcinogenic and inhibit enzymes hence preventing enzymatic activity (Better Health Channel 1-4). Finally, cigarette smoke harms the reproductive system in males and females as well as the unborn baby. In men, cases of low sperm count, increased proportions of deformed sperms, unwarranted adjustments in the sex hormones such as testerone, reduced sperm mobility and cases of impotence have been reported. In females, smoking leads to higher exposure to risks such as miscarriage and premature birth, irregular menstrual cycles, early menopause, stroke in those over 35 years old, and increased incidences of cancer of the cervix. The unborn baby is faced by various risks such as low child birth weight which may lead to prolonged difficulties during subsequent growth and development, and high probability of occurrence of cleft clip and respiratory illnesses (Yap 1).

In conclusion, smoking harms the consumer as well as those close to him or her. Although smoking is a personal decision, its side effects are felt by the user, one’s immediate family and the community at large.  Therefore, it is imperative to raise awareness amongst smokers and non-smokers. This will not only help smokers quit cigarettes but shall also deter non-smokers from joining their counterparts. 

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