When your parents were young, people could buy cigarettes and smoke pretty much anywhere — even in hospitals! Ads for cigarettes were all over the place. Today we’re more aware about how bad smoking is for our health. Smoking is restricted or banned in almost all public places and cigarette companies are no longer allowed to advertise on TV, radio, and in many magazines. Almost everyone knows that smoking causes cancer, emphysema, and heart disease; that it can shorten your life by 10 years or more; and that the habit can cost a smoker thousands of dollars a year. So how come people are still lighting up? The answer, in a word, is addiction.
[su_highlight background=”#1c58eb” color=”#fafcfc”]Once You Start, It’s Hard to Stop :[/su_highlight] Smoking is a hard habit to break because tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive. Like heroin or other addictive drugs, the body and mind quickly become so used to the nicotine in cigarettes that a person needs to have it just to feel normal. People start smoking for a variety of different reasons. Some think it looks cool. Others start because their family members or friends smoke. Statistics show that about 9 out of 10 tobacco users start before they’re 18 years old. Most adults who started smoking in their teens never expected to become addicted. That’s why people say it’s just so much easier to not start smoking at all.
[su_highlight background=”#1c58eb” color=”#fafcfc”]How Smoking Affects Your Health: [/su_highlight]There are no physical reasons to start smoking. The body doesn’t need tobacco the way it needs food, water, sleep, and exercise. In fact, many of the chemicals in cigarettes, like nicotine and cyanide, are actually poisons that can kill in high enough doses. The body is smart. It goes on the defense when it’s being poisoned. For this reason, many people find it takes several tries to get started smoking: First-time smokers often feel pain or burning in the throat and lungs, and some people feel sick or even throw up the first few times they try tobacco. The consequences of this poisoning happen gradually. Over the long term, smoking leads people to develop health problems like cancer, emphysema (breakdown of lung tissue), organ damage, and heart disease. These diseases limit a person’s ability to be normally active — and can be fatal. Each time a smoker lights up, that single cigarette takes about 5 to 20 minutes off the person’s life.
Smokers not only develop wrinkles and yellow teeth, they also lose bone density, which increases their risk of osteoporosis (pronounced: ahs-tee-o-puh-row-sus), a condition that causes older people to become bent over and their bones to break more easily. Smokers also tend to be less active than nonsmokers because smoking affects lung power. Smoking can also cause fertility problems and can impact sexual health in both men and women. Girls who are on the pill or other hormone-based methods of birth control (like the patch or the ring) increase their risk of serious health problems, such as heart attacks, if they smoke.
The consequences of smoking may seem very far off, but long-term health problems aren’t the only hazard of smoking. Nicotine and the other toxins in cigarettes, cigars, and pipes can affect a person’s body quickly, which means that teen smokers experience many of these problems:
[su_highlight background=”#1c58eb” color=”#fafcfc”]Bad skin:[/su_highlight] Because smoking restricts blood vessels, it can prevent oxygen and nutrients from getting to the skin — which is why smokers often appear pale and unhealthy.
[su_highlight background=”#1c58eb” color=”#fafcfc”]Bad breath:[/su_highlight] Cigarettes leave smokers with a condition called halitosis, or persistent bad breath.
[su_highlight background=”#1c58eb” color=”#fafcfc”]Bad-smelling clothes and hair:[/su_highlight] The smell of stale smoke tends to linger — not just on people’s clothing, but on their hair and it’s often hard to get the smell of smoke out.
[su_highlight background=”#1c58eb” color=”#fafcfc”]Reduced athletic performance:[/su_highlight] People who smoke usually can’t compete with nonsmoking peers because the physical effects of smoking (like rapid heartbeat, decreased circulation, and shortness of breath) impair sports performance.
[su_highlight background=”#1c58eb” color=”#fafcfc”]Greater risk of injury and slower healing time:[/su_highlight] Smoking affects the body’s ability to produce collagen, so common sports injuries, such as damage to tendons and
[su_highlight background=”#1c58eb” color=”#fafcfc”]Increased risk of illness: [/su_highlight]Studies show that smokers get more colds, flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia than nonsmokers.
All forms of tobacco — cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco — are hazardous. The only thing that really helps a person avoid the problems associated with smoking is staying smoke free. This isn’t always easy, especially if everyone around you is smoking and offering you cigarettes. When quitting, it can be helpful to realize that the first few days are the hardest. So don’t give up. Some people find they have a few relapses before they manage to quit for good.
Staying smoke free will give you a whole lot more of everything — more energy, better performance, better looks, more money in your pocket, and, in the long run, more lifeto live!