Big butts are in, cig butts are out... not to mention nasty and toxic!
Hey, everyone! Guess what day it is today!!! It’s World No Tobacco Day! If it seems like I’m overly excited about World No Tobacco Day, I kinda am. Not sure why. Well, it could be because I had such a good time making that little image above. I posted it on Instagram and got a lot of love, so now I’m all pumped on this health observance. Sorry, or you’re welcome. World No Tobacco Day is extremely important, though, my newfound excitement aside. It deserves all the attention I can give it, because smoking is so terrible for you that I cant think an adjective that does justice to how horrible it is. So, today lets take a look at some of the effects of smoking. Spoiler alert: there are no positive effects of smoking. Literally not one. And, if you just thought to yourself, “except for looking cool,” self-destructive behaviors aren’t cool. Those sexy mysterious types with the cigarettes are actually just hiding the fact that they have nothing going for them. That’s some free dating advice. Again, sorry or you’re welcome.
Let’s get to it! Okay, so I know we’ve all basically been hearing that smoking is bad for you since we were in grade school. That’s probably because so many tobacco products are designed to look cool to people who aren’t old enough to buy them. Don’t kid yourselves: underage people make up a huge part of Big Tobacco’s marketing strategy. That’s why they come in cool flavors and colors. It’s easier to get people hooked on a product that’s actually fun to consume. It’s a gentle way of easing kids into a lifelong habit.
World No Tobacco Day is celebrated every May 31st. WNTD was created in 1987 by the World Health Organization with the purpose of having people abstain from tobacco products for 24 hours. It also serves to highlight how prevalent tobacco use is, while reminding people of the countless negative health consequences of smoking. Smoking related deaths total nearly 6 million worldwide, every single year. That’s one and a half times the population of Los Angeles. Every. Single. Year. Not to mention, 600,000 of those deaths are non-smokers who were exposed to second hand smoke. That’s a little less than the population of San Francisco. All of those people died from tobacco, and they didn’t even use the stuff. That’s insane.
One thing I want to make clear is that I am in no way intending to demonize smokers. Smokers face a great deal of judgment already. Many of them have tried to quit, and wish that they didn’t smoke. It is really hard to quit. Plain and simple. Just like any other substance the body gets addicted to, your brain starts to equate the drug, in this case tobacco/nicotine, to survival. The thought of not having the substance causes palpable anxiety. The withdrawal from it is able to be seen in different places all over the body. So, don’t look down on people who smoke, be compassionate. The place to focus your disgust is at the tobacco industry. You have to remember, they’ve been manipulating and using the public for centuries. It’s kinda like that saying, “don’t hate the player, hate the game.” Of course, this applies within reason. If you’re lighting up while you’re pregnant, or in your child’s presence, you need to get it together. Choosing to smoke is your decision, but subjecting other people without the ability to leave your environment is unacceptable. If your decisions affect other people’s health, you have a responsibility to protect theirs over damaging your own. And, sorry, but I don’t care if that offends you. You do not have the right to ruin any other human’s health, even if you made them. Health is precious, and for some it is impossible to achieve despite all their best efforts. So, you have the right to smoke, but not at other people’s expense. Moving on…
Smoking damages almost every single organ in the body. It increases your risk for cancer in lots of places, not just your lungs. Not to mention, it significantly increases your chances of developing heart disease, lung disease, blood vessel disease, and increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. 87 percent of lung cancer deaths are due to smoking. Smoking raises your blood pressure, causes plaque build up in the arteries, and in the blood, which gets deposited all over the body reducing circulation and increasing chances of a stroke or heart attack. Every single puff of a cigarette or cigar damages and scars your lungs. Over time, breathing can become very difficult, causing COPD, Emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis and asthma.
Smoking is also linked to autoimmune diseases, which you may not know. The immune system is responsible for fighting off infections and viruses, or anything else that doesn’t belong. Because smoking interferes with the immune systems ability to function normally, smokers often have frequent respiratory infections. Not only are you more likely to have respiratory infections, you’re more likely to develop chronic autoimmune diseases as well (which, if you’ve read my last few blog entries, you know chronic illnesses totally suck). Smoking can double your chances of developing Rheumatoid Arthritis. Smoking can also cause Crohn’s disease. If you’re interested in learning more about either of those diseases, I’ve done posts about them. If you already have an autoimmune disease, smoking can cause flare-ups and worsen symptoms. There is also recent evidence to support the link between smoking and type 2 diabetes. People who smoke are somewhere between 30 and 40 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who do not smoke. That’s a significantly increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It also gets worse with every pack. The more you smoke, the higher the chances for developing type 2 diabetes becomes.
Smoking can also affect your eyes. There is an increased risk of blindness caused by macular degeneration, cataracts, and optic nerve damage. Additionally, as if all of these things weren’t enough, smoking can affect your bones. Smoking decreases bone density leads to osteoporosis. Women are particularly at risk, with studies showing that smoking can cause a decrease in estrogen levels in women. Lower levels of estrogen can cause women to go through menopause early, increasing the risk for osteoporosis even further. Older women (seniors) who smoke experience more fractures. Women who smoked from an early age also have a higher rate of osteoporosis because the bone density is affected during the growth period. Quitting can reduce the risk for fractures and further bone density loss, but it takes a few years for it to take effect. On top of all that, smoking can significantly impact fertility in both men and women. So, if you’re trying to get pregnant, or plan to start a family soon, you and your partner should both quit smoking.
Menthol cigarettes and light cigarettes are equally as dangerous as regular cigarettes. There is a misconception about both of these types of cigarettes that they are a little less harmful than typical cigarettes. There have been numerous studies that show that there is no significant difference in how dangerous they are. Light cigarettes are actually no longer sold, or perhaps no longer labeled as such because it misled consumers into thinking they were making a safer choice. Menthol cigarettes have actually been shown, in a few studies, to be even more addictive than regular cigarettes, but more research is needed to understand this better. There is no such thing as a safe cigarette or cigar. Using a pipe, or hand rolling loose tobacco also carries these risks. It should also be noted that we are still unclear on the long-term health effects of vaping. Some settings on vapes can actually release more of certain chemicals than a regular cigarette. So, if you have quit smoking by switching to a vape, use caution, and don’t modify your device to burn at higher temperatures. Remember, you are still inhaling some amount of chemicals, and you are still putting nicotine into your body.
Thanks for reading, and happy World No Tobacco Day!
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