23 Apr The Damage Associated with Tobacco Smoking
Directly according to CDC Medical Research and Statistics, nearly 1 in every 6 American adults currently smokes tobacco products. This translates to approximately 40 million adults in the United States. Cigarette smoking is actually the #1 leading cause of preventable disease and death in America. Almost half a million (480,000) deaths every year are directly attributable to smoking. Men are more likely than women to smoke, and the age range with the greatest incidence of smoking habits is between 25-64 years old (nearly 40% of all smokers). Socioeconomic status affects likelihood of smoking, with over 25% of all current smokers living below the poverty level. (CDC.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets)
Carcinogens in tobacco smoking are directly damaging to the human body, and leads to extensive disease burden. Diseases caused or worsened by smoking include Asthma, Cancer in the Lung, Nose, Mouth, Throat, Esophagus, Stomach, and others; Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), mouth and gum (Periodontal) disease, Heart disease, Vascular disease, Stroke, Depression, and Anxiety. Diseases significantly worsened and exacerbated by smoking include Diabetes, Heart disease, any and all pre-existing lung diseases, Skin Ulceration and infection due to poor blood flow from smoking, HIV, mental health, and pregnancy.
Most damaging and irreparable consequences from smoking are related to the deposition of carcinogens into the walls of blood vessels or inside organs. Blood flow becomes extremely impaired and pinched off, resulting in accelerated rates of heart attack, stroke, blindness, non-healing skin ulcers, erectile dysfunction, and eventually amputation of fingers, toes, and legs.
People smoke and die every day, despite widely available material on the extremely harmful nature of smoking. Why is this? In almost every person’s case, tobacco smoking quickly develops into an addiction and lifestyle. The powerful grip of smoking is in large part as a coping mechanism- people smoke to calm their anxiety; as a distraction or to escape; for a chemical feeling of pleasure and relief. These unconsciously become a way of life in how a person copes with stress, anxiety, and daily life.
Successfully separating yourself from smoking requires more than just not reaching for a cigarette or black & mild. It requires committed motivation, dedicated desire, and in many cases, a learning of new coping mechanisms. Psychologically, people who have quit are most vulnerable when under increased amounts of stress, depression, and anxiety, or when they encounter common subconscious triggers and life patterns that were associated with smoking (such as drinking a beer, visiting smoking spots, etc). It is important to know that many people who go “from current to former” can often struggle with relapse one, two, three or more times. Don’t beat yourself up! Relapse periods in the midst of continued, committed, and sustained efforts to quit smoking are expected.
When quitting smoking, most people may try using nicotine-replacement products. There are many different kinds of smoking cessation products on the market. The most common types include nicotine-containing gum, lozenges, nasal-spray, or patches that are applied directly onto the skin. Oral medications (Chantix, for example), and even anti-anxiety medications (Buspar, for example) can be used to decrease cravings, reduce anxiety, and decrease the former pleasure that was experienced from smoking. Discuss smoking cessation with your doctor today!