While the number of teenagers who smoke has decreased in recent years, there are still thousands of children under 18 who start smoking every day. For many teens, a smoking habit starts because their friends smoke, or they consider smoking cool. The fact that smoking is dangerous to a person’s health is no secret; often that is part of the thrill or the pleasure derived from smoking, or the addiction itself overrides those concerns. It is also possible teenagers do not consider the effects of smoking because they are young and may not experience the complications of nicotine for years. Regardless, there are a host of reasons for teenagers to quit smoking.
Dangerous Additives in Cigarettes
Cigarettes contain about 4000 chemicals, many of which are poisonous. These are ingredients that no one would consider consuming on their own.
A few of the more damaging chemicals in cigarettes include:
Nicotine – the highly addictive component of cigarettes
Tar – thick, sticky substance that sticks to the cilia in the lungs; tar itself contains many other deadly poisons
Carbon monoxide – deadly poison found in car exhaust fumes
Benzene – used as a solvent in fuel and chemical manufacturing
Ammonia – a poisonous chemical found in cleaning fluids
Formaldehyde – a deadly chemical used to preserve dead bodies
Cadmium – very poisonous radioactive metal found in batteries
Hydrogen cyanide – used in manufacturing plastic, dyes, and pesticides
Acetone – a poisonous solvent found in nail polish remover
Arsenic – chemical element found in rat poison
Methane – component used in rocket fuel
Every time a smoker puffs in a cigarette, they are inhaling a small quantity of these and many more poisonous substances.
The effect of smoking on health is a never-ending list that affects nearly every organ in the body. Just a few serious complications include:
Cancer of the lungs, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, kidney, stomach, and cervix
Severe and persistent cough
Smoking also reduces the life of a person up to 14 years. Tobacco affects the normal physical development of the body in a young adult. Every time a person inhales smoke from a cigarette he or she damages some alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs. Alveoli transfer oxygen to the blood. As they are destroyed, breathing becomes more difficult and many organs can become deprived of oxygenated blood. Smoking also kills cilia, the hair-like structures that clean dust, pollen, and other substances from the lungs. When the cilia are paralyzed, particles from the smoke cannot be cleaned out, and ultimately tar forms in the lungs.
Smoking is Addictive
Smoking is an addiction. The nicotine present in cigarettes is poisonous and no less addictive than heroin or cocaine. Once the body gets used to nicotine, it feels it cannot function without it, making it extremely difficult to quit.
Here are several reasons to quit smoking immediately.
Causes bad breath
Makes hair and clothes smell
Turns teeth and fingers yellow
Results in early wrinkling of the skin
Makes it difficult for a person to run, dance, or perform vigorous activities
A person becomes easily exhausted during exercises
Results in decreased sexual function
A person becomes three times more likely to develop cavities than non-smokers
Causes stuffy nose
Weakens immune system
Lowers hormone levels
Increases the likelihood of colds and pneumonia
Decreases sense of smell
Irritates the throat
Weakens ligaments and tendons, increasing the chance of injury
Reduces the ability to heal an injury
Damages taste buds
Decreases a person’s life span
Smoking even just a few cigarettes a day can harm the body, increase the risk of heart disease, and shorten a person’s life. The fact that exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke can be as harmful as actually smoking a cigarette indicates that smoking any number of cigarettes directly will cause harm.
The point is: any amount of smoking is bad for a person’s health.
There is a misconception that smoking relaxes the mind and body, can help someone lose weight, and relaxes someone when they are feeling tense.
The fact is that smoking actually increases the heartbeat, does not assist weight loss, and makes it difficult to think clearly. Smokers should consider whether this brief feel-good sensation is worth the risk of inhaling thousands of harmful poisonous substances.
Quitting smoking is not easy. Nicotine is such a powerful drug that it makes it difficult to resist once addiction takes hold. Smokers usually need help quitting. They can talk to their family doctor about their desire to quit smoking. A doctor can prescribe medicine that will help curb the addiction, including nicotine substitutes. A person can also ask for suggestions from a health care practitioner, and attend support groups.
Smokers should read as many self-help magazines or articles as possible. Family members and friends can provide support and make it easier for a person to cope.
When quitting, a person should be aware of their cravings; noticing when they occur can help someone understand the reasons why they smoke. Keeping a journal can put smoking into perspective. It may also be helpful to create a list of reasons to quit. Finally, staying busy can help divert a person’s attention away from cravings.