Smoking and your health
Why is smoking so bad for us?
We've all heard that smoking is bad for us but we don't always understand why it's so harmful.
The fact is though, 5,000 people die in Ireland every year as a result of smoking or a smoking-related illness, and it's the main cause of most lung cancers.
So, what is it about smoking that makes it so dangerous? Well, let's start at the very beginning with the cigarettes themselves.
Cigarettes: The Facts
The tobacco smoke produced by cigarettes contains about 4000 chemicals and many of them are harmful. These include:
- Nicotine: Scientists say that nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known to man. They've even argued that it may be more addictive than heroin or cocaine.
- Nicotine is poisonous and has been used in the past as an insecticide.
- It is inhaled into the lungs, passes into the bloodstream and reaches the brain in about 10 -20 seconds.
- Nicotine addiction can occur very quickly and it is because of this that smokers continue to smoke, many for the rest of their lives.
- Tar: A sticky substance that collects in the lungs, causing respiratory diseases and cancers.
- Carbon monoxide: A poisonous gas which limits the amount of oxygen that the red blood cells in our bodies carry.
- There are more than 4,000 other chemicals, many of which are cancer causing.
- These include arsenic (poison), ammonia (toilet cleaner), acetone (nail polish remover), butane (lighter fuel), methanol (rocket fuel), DDT (insecticide), polonium 210 (radioactive fallout) and cadium (car battery fuel).
With so many chemicals, you can imagine that cigarettes aren’t exactly good for our bodies,
What does smoking actually do to your body?
In the short term:
- Smoking gives you bad breath.
- Causes wrinkles earlier in life.
- Makes your hair and clothes smell.
- Can affect your sports performance - you won't be able to run as fast or as far.
- Stains your teeth and makes your skin dry.
- Crease your lips from pursing them around the cigarette.
- Makes your skin tougher and not as soft.
- Mixes up the fluids in your brain.
In the long term:
- Smokers lose around 10 or 15 years of their potential life span.
- Smoking can cause Coronary Heart Disease.
- Lung Cancer.
- Throat Cancer.
- Mouth Cancer.
- Bladder Cancer.
- Infertility in men and women.
- Stomach Ulcers.
Get help and support to QUIT smoking
- Talk to your GP or pharmacist.
- Visit Quit.ie for tips on how to stop smoking.
- Call the Quitline on Freephone 1800 201 203 to talk to someone who understands and can help you quit.
- Head to the Quit.ie Facebook page to read stories from others who have quit smoking and to share your own.
- Check out SpunOut's articles about giving up cigarettes.