SMOKING kills.

It is that plain and simple.

There is no more doubt today that tobacco (cigarette smoking) is the predominant cause of lung cancer, besides other malignancies and cardiovascular diseases that maim, kill men and women and hurt our society, especially our children.

In the United States alone, almost half a million die each year from smoking-related illnesses.

These are preventable deaths!

Demographic studies have shown that smokers are about 10 times more prone to die premature deaths than non-smokers.

This unnecessary loss of lives is at an immense direct cost for non-smokers in terms of increased health risks from passive smoking, in higher health insurance premiums and taxes, not to mention personal and family tragedies in all shapes and forms.

As we have alluded to in a previous column, secondhand smoke is even more dangerous to the innocent bystanders.

The Environmental Protection Agency engineers have shown that even the best available ventilation and air-moving equipment were unable to reduce carcinogenic (cancer-causing) air contamination to a safe level for a non-smoker sharing work space with a habitual smoker.

Physical isolation of the smokers is most essential as shown by these scientific studies.

Worse killer than drugs, alcohol, accidents

Tobacco use leads to four times as many excess deaths annually compared to all other drugs and alcohol abuse combined, 10 times more than all automobile fatalities per year, 12 times more than deaths from AIDS, and much more than all the American military casualties (in all wars) in this century put together.

That’s how dangerous and damaging tobacco is to the human body and to society as a whole.

New research revealed that tobacco smoke causes genetic damage within minutes of inhalation of cigarette smoke, not years.

The adverse effects are almost instantaneous as the smoke gets into the lungs.

This new finding corrects the old notion that smoking took years to initiate damages to the body.

Scary facts and statistics

There are 4,000 chemicals (600 of them poisons, 69 cancer-causing) in every stick of cigarette, toxic chemicals like those found in paint stripper, toilet cleaner, rocket fuel, lighter fuel, chemicals in moth balls, the poison used in the gas chamber, and other toxins.

Smoking causes almost 1/3 of all cancer deaths in the world; smokeless tobacco — 50 times worse than regular cigarettes.

Passive smoking — responsible for about 6,000 lung cancers among non-smokers and 35,000 deaths from secondhand smoke-related diseases per year.

More than half a million are killed each year in the USA alone by smoking-related illnesses; 10 times more than car accidents; 12 times more than AIDS.

And a lot more than all the military casualties in all wars in this century put together.

One person in the USA dies of a heart attack every minute (mostly smokers).

One dies of other smoking-related illness every three minutes!

Smoking has orphaned billions of children around the globe, greater than all the wars combined has caused.

Smokers die 13-14 years earlier than non-smokers.

Risk of dying from lung cancer among smokers compared to non-smokers: 22 times greater in men and 12 times greater among women.

Since 1950, lung cancer deaths among women have increased 600 percent.

Smokers have three times risk of dying from heart attack.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths.

Eight steps to quit smoking

1. Education, discipline and will power — These are essential pre-requisites to a successful smoking cessation program.  

Studies have shown that those smokers who are less educated, those with weaker character, with lack of will power and discipline have the hardest time quitting cigarettes.

But I have known educated people, some of them my own medical colleagues, who are unable to quit.

This shows, while education is important, the other personality traits can play a greater role in helping smokers quit.

Before even starting, analyze yourself, and decide if you are strong enough to enter the “gladiator’s arena,” and win the battle for your own health and longevity.

2. Read and learn all you can about all the serious effects of cigarette smoking.

3. Convince and scare yourself about the dangers of smoking, which will be devastating to yourself and to your loved ones.

4. Calendar a quit date, which will serve as your goal and guide, a contract you make with yourself.

It is normal to falter in your attempt, but each time you get up and resume the fight, the nearer you are in killing the habit, instead of the other way around, the habit killing you.

Concentrate on your goal.

5. Accept the reality of quitting and the rocky road ahead.

Know that it won’t be a walk in the park and that it will be very rough sailing ahead.

At the same time, picture smokers with shortness of breath, even on oxygen, or those with cancers, and then rejoice in the comfort and joy of being able to breathe normally, and live with a lower the risk of cancers, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.

After 24 hours of cessation, the nicotine level in your system is practically untraceable, and healing within you starts.

Your hunger level will be up.

Chewing gums, drinking a lot of water (not alcohol), or even hard candy could help.

6. Smoking Triggers are those which your brain associates smoking with.

It could be coffee, watching the television, seeing an ashtray, of even seeing a smoking buddy.

Stay away from these triggers as much as you can, and get rid of the cigarettes in your car, tool kit, porch, home, office, etc.

If you feel having a no-smoking sign will help, put them up in strategic locations.

This shows your determination.

7. E-cigarettes (Electronic cigarettes, without nicotine), Nicotine replacement medications (gum, inhalers, patches, lozenge), and drugs can lessen the craving for smoking.

About half of those who use the NR meds are successful in quitting cigarettes.

The two U.S. FDA-approved drugs — Zyban and Chantix — have been found to be very helpful.

Talk to your physician about any of these therapies.

8. Counseling and support will improve the odds of success in quitting and, more importantly, in sustaining a permanent abstinence from tobacco.

Smokers have about 5 percent chance of succeeding for every attempt at quitting.

So, after five attempts, one has 25 percent chance of success.

This why initial failures followed by resumption of determined attempts means success is in the horizon.

Success comes to persistent people who have the courage to fail.


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