-Candice Smith, contributing writer
Would you, even in small doses, purposely inhale carbon monoxide or ingest arsenic? What about cyanhydric acid which was used in gas chambers? I’m sure it’s safe to assume the answer would be no. Then put the cigarettes down. Cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, 69 of which cause cancer. Here is a list of toxic chemicals used to manufacture a cigarette which is approved by the FDA: methanol (used in rocket fuel), stearic acid (used in candle wax), hydrogen cyanide (a poison used on death row), butane (a lighter fluid), nicotine (a pesticide), acetone (found in rat poison and nail varnish remover), radon (a radioactive gas), ammonia (in toilet bowl cleaner), cadmium (used in batteries), toluene (an industrial solvent), hexamine (a barbeque lighter), methane (a sewer gas) and tar (used on road surfaces) (lung.org) After reading the above, how appealing do cigarettes sound?
Allow me to speak from personal experience. I tried my first cigarette at the age of 15. It was absolutely disgusting, but what did I care? I thought I was going to live forever. I didn’t really smoke on a regular basis until my junior or senior year in high school because then I was legal and able to flash that ID all over the tobacco counter at the gas station. I smoked until I was 19, when I found out I was pregnant. At least I was smart enough to quit smoking during my pregnancy. For some reason, I picked up smoking again about a year later and smoked for another two years. I finally quit for five years. The only reason I quit was because I was too lazy to walk to the smoking dock at work. But after I left that job, I started back again.
I finally quit in 2009 because of the overwhelming guilt my daughter gave me when she smelled it on me. She didn’t want me to die. Also, I constantly had sinus infections. To make matters worse, I was diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) in 2012. COPD is a progressive disease that makes it hard to breath and the disease gets worse over time (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services).
So, here I am, a 34-year-old with a progressive lung disease. I get short-winded walking long distances, going upstairs, or bending over to tie my shoes. I use an inhaler every morning, which opens up my lungs, and I sleep with a breathing machine every night, which helps, but still doesn’t fix my problem. Oh to be able to breathe again. My lung function has improved, but it’s still not the same.
If you submit yourself to cigarettes, they can and will control you. Smoking-related diseases kill almost half of a million people a year and spend $96 billion in health care costs (www.lung.org). Smoking has caused COPD, heart disease, stroke, aneurysm, acute myeloid leukemia, cataracts, pneumonia, gum disease, bladder, esophageal, laryngeal, lung, oral, throat, cervical, kidney, stomach and pancreatic cancers. As of five years ago, 20 percent of the adult population were smokers but of those, 46 percent made attempts to quit smoking completely.
Here is a timeline retrieved from healthline.com:
After 20 minutes of quitting, your heart rate will begin to resume to normal levels. After two hours, your blood pressure and heart rate will have decreased to near normal levels and you will develop nicotine withdrawal symptoms, which include intense cravings, tension, drowsiness, and an increased appetite. Twelve hours after you quit, carbon monoxide decreases your blood oxygen levels increase. Twenty-four hours after you quit, your risk for a heart attack will significantly decrease because the heart attack rate for smokers is 70 percent higher than nonsmokers. Forty-eight hours after you quit, your nerve endings begin to regrow and your ability to taste and smell will increase, allowing you to appreciate your senses.
After three days, the nicotine will be completely out of your body. You will begin to develop headaches, nausea, and emotional symptoms. But three weeks after quitting, you will be able to exercise again without feeling sick. Your circulation and lung function will improve causing you to be able to breathe easier. Also, withdrawal symptoms begin to dissipate after three weeks. One to nine months after quitting, the cilia (tiny hair like structures in your lungs) will begin to repair themselves, reducing your risk of infections.
After just one year of not smoking, you will cut your risk of heart disease by fifty percent. Five years after quitting, your risk of having a stroke is the same as someone who doesn’t smoke. Ten years after you quit, your chances of lung cancer will be reduced by half. Your chances for mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas cancer also decrease, seeing as smoking counts for 90 percent of cancer worldwide. Fifteen years after quitting, your risk of heart disease will be that of a nonsmoker. Nonsmokers, on average, live 14 years longer than smokers.
So, why do people smoke? Because nicotine is highly addictive. Nicotine reaches the brain a lot quicker than drugs introduced to the body intravenously (needle to the vein).
So how can you quit? Things that personally have worked for me are not hanging around people that smoke. I’m not saying quit being friends with them, but don’t hang around them when they smoke. Many times when I smoked, it was usually because I was stressed about something or trying to prevent myself from eating. Eat a healthy snack or take a walk. PRAY! Call a friend on the phone when you get the urge. Speak to a counselor. Maintain a positive network of support. Don’t entertain negative ideas or thoughts, feeling as though you will never be able to quit. There are medications, patches, gum and lozenges available over the counter that will aid in quitting smoking. If you find yourself lost and unable to quit on your own, please contact Student Counseling Services on the 4th floor of Alumni Hall or call 601-925-7790.
You are the only one who has control over your own actions!