The growing trend of tobacco smoking
Smoking is the single most important source of preventable morbidity. Simply put, if you are a smoker and you quit, you lower your chances of getting a preventable disease and therefore less likely to die a premature death. Tobacco kills half of its users. Tough, but true! According to World Health Organization, WHO, tobacco kills 6 million people yearly, 5 million die from direct smoking and about 600,000 non smokers die from exposure to tobacco smoke.
Unfortunately, smoking is very common among young adults in Nigeria and sadly it is a growing trend across the country; a trend that needs to be stopped. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable diseases related to heart disease. It is responsible for 30%-45% of deaths due to heart disease. Smoking is linked to most cancers. It is responsible for 85-90% of lung cancer cases, responsible for 70-80% of esophageal cancer cases, responsible for half the cases of bladder cancer and larynx/pharynx cancer cases. It is also responsible for about 30% of kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, cervix cancer, stomach, colon and rectum cancer cases. If this is not enough to convince you to drop that cigarette, there’s more!
Ladies, tobacco smoking decreases your fertility and makes it difficult for you to get pregnant. And if you do get pregnant, the chance of miscarriage is higher in women who smoke. Smoking by a pregnant woman increases the chance of having a baby who is underweight, having a premature baby or even worse, still birth or spontaneous abortion due to the high carbon monoxide on the fetus. Also, if you are on birth control, your risk of thromboembolism (blood clots) is highly increased if you smoke. In men that smoke, the chances of developing erectile dysfunction is very high and that is a problem no man wants to deal with; not being able to satisfy your partner. The good news is that this risk of death and all these smoking associated illnesses is decreased by half after 1 year of quitting, and after 15 years of quitting, the risk of death is the same as a person who has never smoked. So the question remains, why are people still lighting up a cigarette?
As for those that don’t smoke, but have a roommate or a partner, or a husband or wife who smokes, or visit restaurants and clubs filled with smoke every evening, you are not totally out of the loop. Like I previously said, secondhand smoking is responsible for about 600,000 deaths a year! This is a high number and you can’t just turn the other way or flip the page because you feel you don’t smoke so this does not appeal to you. Well sadly, it does too. Second-hand smoke has been proven to be a risk factor for lung cancer and other lung diseases such as COPD, emphysema, asthma etc. and this risk increases with increasing exposure to smoke. So parents that smoke should take this into consideration and also consider quitting. When parents smoke, their exposed children are at risk for respiratory infections and diseases such as asthma and this can be tough on the children. Even if you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your children, because your smoking habit puts them at risk too. Also, people that visit smoke filled restaurants without adequate ventilation are also at risk. In such instances, there is a need for the government to look into laws that govern smoking in public places and ensure that risky behaviors such as smoking be stopped because it endangers others as well.
Finally, I know that quitting smoking can be one of the most difficult challenges a smoker might ever have to face. The desire to quit smoking and actually quitting requires motivation, commitment and support. Up to 70% of tobacco smokers want to quit but only 5% are actually successful. It’s not easy at all. I am pretty sure that majority of smokers have quit smoking, only to find out that two weeks later, they are back at it. This is due to the nicotine addiction. Nicotine is a chemical found in cigarettes and it works very quickly. Few seconds after a person smokes, it gets absorbed into the bloodstream and send signals to the brain to release adrenaline and dopamine. These are feel good hormones that makes you feel good immediately. This feeling is addictive and people just want to smoke another cigarette… And another…. And another because they are addicted to the nicotine. This is where a visit to your doctor can help.
There are various medications available that can help relieve the cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping smoking. Some of them come in the form of patches, gums and some are actual prescription drugs and your doctor can advice which is best for you. Smokers who get the help of a doctor are five times more successful than if you go at it alone. You might not succeed at quitting smoking the first time you try, but try again. Smoking cessation requires an average of 3 – 6 attempts. I am well aware of how difficult it is to quit smoking. But you have to at least try. Quitting smoking is the single most important thing you can do for yourself to live longer. Stop it before it stops you.
Disclaimer: The medical information provided on here by Dr. Nini Iyizoba is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment
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