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Cigarettes Health Hazards

By  Suha Khalifa,MD, Assistant Professor, Jordan University


Cigarette smoking is the greatest single cause of illness and premature death worldwide. It is estimated that one person every five minutes dies from smoking related diseases. Smoking-related deaths are mainly due to cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary (lung) disease (COPD) and heart disease. Children and babies, who live in a home where there is a smoker, are more prone to asthma and ear, and chest infections, and have an increased risk of dying from cot death (sudden infant death syndrome). And these children are more likely than average to become smokers themselves when older.

Argeeleh (hubbly bubbly) originated in India as hookah, and was imported to the Arabs through Iran and Turkey. Currently it has gained popularity among young population. A single argeeleh smoking session is about 60 min on average, and is equivalent to smoking around 15 cigarettes. Argeeleh smoke contains the same nicotine, tar and heavy metals available in regular cigarettes, and sometimes at higher alarming concentrations.

Over 4000 chemical compounds are created by burning a tobacco – 69 of those chemicals are known to cause cancer. Carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanide, tar and ammonia are all present in cigarette smoke. Arsenic, formaldehyde, benzene and many other dangerous chemicals, and  poisons are ingredients  in cigarettes. Nicotine is the drug in tobacco that causes addiction. Cigarettes are addicting and as equally addictive as many illegal drugs. Nicotine is ten times more potent than cocaine.

Nicotine stimulates the brain. If you are a regular smoker, when the blood level of nicotine falls, you usually develop withdrawal symptoms, such as craving, anxiety, restlessness, headaches, irritability, hunger, difficulty with concentration, or just feeling awful. These symptoms are relieved by the next cigarette.

It’s never too late to quit smoking. The sooner you quit, the more you lessen your chances of developing cancer and other serious diseases. In fact, no matter how long you’ve been a smoker, your risk of heart diseases and cancer progressively decreases with time once you’ve quit for good.

If you have ever tried to quit smoking, you would have realized how difficult it is. As Mark Twain once said “to quit smoking is one of the easiest things in the world, I must have done it over a dozen times”. Research indicates that over 70% of the people who smoke want to quit. Only 5% of smokers are able to quit cold turkey. There are many ways to quit smoking, and physicians are trained to help smokers quit, and overcome their nicotine addiction, through counseling and using many quit smoking aids, like nicotine patches and gums, and many other approved drugs available. So if you slip up don’t give up just try quitting again. You can change the fate of your health and your future by making the decision to quit today.


Photo credit: Ferran. / Foter


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