BENGALURU: “Giving up smoking is easy. I have done it a thousand times. - Mark Twain
This is how tobacco/nicotine works on you.Within ten seconds of inhaling a cigarette, nicotine, the primary chemical in tobacco, reaches the brain causing release of epinephrine, popularly known as adrenaline, into the body. The adrenaline triggers a sensation of pleasure and energy in the body.
However, the euphoria is short-lived and leaves you craving for more nicotine.
People start smoking for various reasons. Teens take up this habit to look different, to experiment with something ‘forbidden’, to cope with loneliness, and so on. Adults often smoke to deal with personal or financial problems, as a temporary escape and for the euphoria.They continue out of nicotine dependency. When they try to quit, withdrawal symptoms kick in. Nicotine addiction is certainly a biological function.
Smoking leads to various health complications, even to people who live with addicts.
Tobacco and other cancers
Smoking causes cancers of the throat, mouth, nasal cavity, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia and prostate cancer.
Smokers are 30 to 40 per cent more likely to develop type-2 diabetes than nonsmokers.
18 million males over age 20 suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED). Cigarette smoke alters blood flow necessary for an erection.
According to WHO, involuntary or passive smoking is the exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke which is a mixture of exhaled mainstream smoke and side stream smoke released from a smoldering cigarette or any smoking device (such as cigar, bidi and pipe) and diluted with ambient air. Passive smoking is as dangerous as active smoking. According to WHO, passive smokers have a 25 to 35% increased risk of suffering from acute coronary diseases. Further, they are prone to frequent chronic respiratory conditions, exacerbation of asthma, reduced lung function and increased risk for lung cancer.
About 30 per cent of all deaths from heart disease are directly related to cigarette smoking. That is because smoking is a major cause of coronary artery disease. Smokers increase their risk of heart attack the longer they smoke. People who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day are twice as likely to have a heart attack than nonsmokers.
Nicotine present in smoke causes heart disease by decreasing oxygen to the heart, increasing blood pressure and heart rate, increasing blood clotting and damaging the cells that line coronary arteries and other blood vessels. Cigarette smokers are two to four times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers, more than 10 times as likely to develop peripheral vascular disease or PVD.
Carbon monoxide with nicotine is a dangerous combination. You inhale carbon monoxide when you smoke and this effectively reduces the oxygen carrying capacity by the RBCs. Nicotine is addictive, increases BP, heart rate, and reduces the blood flow to the heart cells resulting in heart attack.
The writer is former Director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiology, former VC of Bangalore University and former Chairman of Karnataka State Health Commission
How to quit smoking
Confess to family and friends your intention to quit.
Identify the triggers and know how to respond to them in a healthy manner.
Using the nicotine patch or gum, lozenges or nicotine sapray (5, 10 or 15 mg) as per the advice by the doctors.
1 in 5 (adults and teenagers) smoke.
9 out of 10 smokers start before the age of 18 and 98% of the smokers start smoking by age 26.
8.6 million people live with a serious illness caused by smoking.
On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.
Smoking robs you of some of your good cholesterol
Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death.
Tobacco and Respiratory health
9 out of 10 lung cancers are caused by smoking
8 out of 10 Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease deaths are due to smoking.
Smoking increases a person’s risk of getting tuberculosis and dying from it.
Smoking slows down lung growth in children and teens.
Chronic bronchitis, emphysema and COPD are caused by tobacco.