The Poison of Smoking
This is not meant to be preachy. This is simply an essay I wrote for an English class while attending college. I just thought the facts were worth repeating.
A Smoke-y Past
I have been around the act of smoking since I was born. My mother picked up the habit when she was nineteen years old in the mid-1960s. When I was born in the late 1970s, she had been hooked for nearly fifteen years. In those days, smoking was accepted and not uncommon.
My mother smoked regularly around my five siblings and myself, so it was never regarded as strange or even unhealthy. I remember as a child dancing around in my mother’s cigarette and inhaling and exhaling, pretending I was the one smoking. When I think back on that, I cringe. Today, because I have heard harmful statistics on smoking, I actually hold my breath when walking by smokers. I find it difficult, as well, being in my parents’ house sitting in the midst of cigarette smoke. The smell gives me a headache within thirty minutes of being near it. While my mother disputes that secondhand smoke even exists, there are indications that a nonsmoker who is exposed to it is affected by its poisons.
Second- and Third-Handed Smoke
Because my youngest sister (also a smoker) currently resides in my home with my children and me, there is no comfort in being enlightened by the ominous facts of what secondhand smoke can cause, as the website, DoSomething.Org, denotes. It states roughly 3,000 non-smoking adults die of lung cancer. “Secondhand smoke also causes about 35,000 deaths from haert disease in people who are not smokers" ("Health and Fitness"). Recently, in the media, “thirdhand” smoke has been brought to light. This is believed to exist through cigarette smoke as it contaminates inanimate objects such as furniture and clothing that have been exposed to cigarette smoke. From adults to young children, it is proven non-smokers are at risk from the poisons of cigarettes.
"Children are more vulnerable to respiratory and ear infections caused by secondhand smoke because their lungs are smaller and their immune systems are weaker" ("Health and Fitness"). I remember my siblings and me suffering from frequent earaches throughout our childhood. Although we rarely visited the pediatrician, the earaches painfully passed after a few days. Additionally, children can develop asthma and chronic bronchitis due to secondhand smoke. One of my sisters has been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis and attracts it every year. She is also mildly asthmatic. This could be a result of having been exposed to secondhand smoke for over twenty years.
Peer Pressure And Addiction
Although my mother does not buy the claim of secondhand smoke, she does realize smoking is poisonous to her own body. However, it is an addiction. There are countless addictions that run the gamut, whether they be overeating or excessively playing computer games. Arguably, smoking may be one of the toughest to dispel.
“Nicotine, a drug found naturally in tobacco, is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Over time, a person becomes physically and emotionally dependent on nicotine” (“Health and Fitness”). This explains why both my mother and sister find it difficult to quit smoking cigarettes. No one wants to be addicted to something. From my experience, small actions one may have thought harmless can lead to addictions. My youngest sister is an example of this. She started smoking soon after high school. Like our mother, my sister picked up the habit because her friends had taken to it. While she was at work or at parties socializing, her friends would take the infamous “smoking break.” Rather than sitting alone at an empty table anxiously waiting for them to return, my sister decided joining them would ease her discomfort. Peer pressure is a powerful trigger. Presently, she would like to quit smoking; however, she admits the addiction is preventing her from taking that healthful step.
There Is Hope
There are many unhealthy risks to smoking. While experts have proven smoking leads to an assortment of cancers, ailments, and diseases, there is a chance to heal your body from the ill affects of cigarettes. In fact, it is amazing to know, as Do Something.org notes, that within twelve hours of quitting, “the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal”. Additionally, as Do Something.Org writes, after five to fifteen years of quitting, your risk of stroke matches a nonsmoker’s; and fifteen years after “kicking the habit”, you share the same risk as a nonsmoker in developing coronary heart disease.
If you can overcome the addiction to cigarettes, then there is hope of recovering from the “over 4,000 poisonous chemicals” (“Health and Fitness”) that have been circulating in the body while smoking. That is brilliant news and definitely reveals a light at the end of the tunnel; it is a goal towards which any smoker can aim. Even though my mother and sister continue to smoke cigarettes, I won’t give up on them just yet. You are never too old to develop new practices, and there are plenty of “good” habits out there. Here’s a hint: smoking is not one of them.
(Works Cited: "Health and Fitness: Smoking", Do Something.Org. 3 July 2009, http://www.dosomething.org)