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A must know for smokers

Updated on August 19, 2016

We all know that smoking is extremely harmful and is partly responsible for heart attacks, lung cancer, emphysema and chrnic bronchitis.

The spread of the smoking habit

When Christopher Columbus visited North America (The New World, as it is called then) in 1492, he was surprised to find the native American Indians smoking rolled-up tobacco leaves. Sir Walter Raleigh introduced smoking to the western world by smoking tobacco using pipe on his return to London after visiting America. Doctors noted that tobacco smoking had a sothing effect on skokers. They actually began prescribing tobaco smoking for a number of ailments

Soon the tobacco-smoking craze was back to America, but this time to the white settlers. The tobacco leaves now became tightly rolled and were called cigars. By the late 1800s, the larger cigars became very much smaller and were wrapped in paper. This was the introduction of the "cigarette" as we call it today

The harmful substances in tobacco smoke

Tobacco smoking reduces the amount of oxygen available to the various parts of the body in two ways. Firstly, it causes the blood vessels to become narrower. Therefore less blood and less oxygen are carried to the tissues. Secondly, smoking releases carbon monoxide that competes with oxygen to combine with haemoglobin. When it combines with oxygen, the amount of haemoglobin available for oxygen transport is reduced. For these two reasons the heart has to work harder and pump faster to supply sufficient oxygen to the various parts. The chances of a smoker experiencing a heart attack are more than twice that of a non-smoker.

Cigarettes contain a substance called nicotine which is an addictive drug that stimulates the nervous system. It increases blood pressure and makes the heart work harder. People who smoke are more likely to suffer from heart disease than people who do not.

Smoking also releases tar, a carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). The tar begins to cause irritations inside the lung tissue. After many years of smoking, this may lead to lung cancer. A person who has smked heavily for 20 years or more is 20 times more likely to end up with lung cancer than those who do not smoke.

Our knowledge of the serious harmful effects of smoking has led to strict laws being passed regarding the advertisement of smoking and where smoking can and cannot take place.

Gases such as ammonia and cyanide irritate the inside of the air passages. This makes smker's cough.

Smokers affect other people too

People who do not smoke are often inconvenienced and made to feel unpleasant when they are in a room where people are smoking. The smoke in the air strings the eyes and causes headaches and sore throats. Non-smokers who experience this on an ongoing basis also risk getting all the diseases associated with tobacco smoking. It has been shwn that pregnant women who smoke have babies that are smaller in size. The carbon monoxie decreases the amount of oxygen that is able to reach the child, thus stunting its growth. It could also lead to greater difficulty in childbirth.


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