How did smoking start?
The idea of smoking has varied over time and from one place to another as holy and sinful, sophisticated and vulgar and as deadly health hazard. Only relatively recently, and primarily in industrialized Western countries, has smoking come to be viewed in a decidedly negative light. Today medical studies have proven that smoking tobacco is among the leading causes of many diseases such as lung cancer, heart attacks, COPD, erectile dysfunction and can also lead to birth defects. The inherent health hazards of smoking have caused many countries to institute high taxes on tobacco products and anti-smoking campaigns are launched every year in an attempt to curb tobacco smoking.
The history of smoking dates back to as early as 5000 BC in shamanistic rituals and has also been recorded in many different cultures across the world. Smoking was used as offerings to deities, in cleansing rituals or for shamans and priests to alter their minds for purposes of spiritual enlightenment. Many ancient civilizations like the Babylonians, Indians and Chinese would burn incense as a part of religious rituals followed by the Israelite s, Catholics and Orthodox Christians. After the European exploration and conquest of the Americas, the practice of smoking tobacco quickly spread to the rest of the world. In regions like India and Sub-Saharan Africa, it merged with existing practices of smoking (mostly of cannabis). In Europe, it introduced a new type of social activity and a form of drug intake which previously had been unknown.
As the cigarette production started to be modernized together with the increasing of life expanses during the 1920s, health effects became more prevalent. In Germany, anti-smoking groups started to publish advocacy against the consumption of tobacco in the journal Der Tabakgegner in 1912 and 1932. In 1929, Fritz Lickint of Dresden in Germany published a paper containing formal statistical evidence of a lung cancer-tobacco link. Adolf Hitler did also condemn his previous smoking habits as a waste of money and this was strengthened with the Nazi reproductive policy as women who smoked were viewed as unsuitable to be wives and mothers in a German family. By the end of the Second World War, American cigarette manufactures quickly re-entered the German black market and illegal smuggling of tobacco became very common and leaders of the Nazi anti-smoking campaign were assassinated. As part of the Marshall Plan, the United States shipped free tobacco to Germany; with 24,000 tons in 1948 and 69,000 tons in 1949.
In 1950, Richard Doll published a research in the British Medical journal showing a close link between smoking and lung cancer. Four years later, in 1954, the British Doctors Study consisting of 40 doctors over 20 years confirmed that smoking and lung cancer was related to each other. As scientific evidence mounted in the 1980s, Tobacco companies neglected the health effects because of the economical gain. The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement between the four largest US tobacco companies and the Attorneys General of 46 states did manage to restrict certain types of tobacco advertisement and required payments for health compensation which then ended in the largest civil settlement in the US history. Today Russia leads as the top consumer of tobacco followed by Indonesia, Laos, Ukraine, Belarus, Greece, Jordan, and China. The World Health Organization has begun a program known as the Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI) in order to reduce rates of consumption in the developing world.
Tobacco related diseases are some of the biggest death reasons in the world today. Only in the United States, about 500,000 deaths each year are related to smoking caused diseases and a recent study estimated that China’s 1/3 male population will have their life shortened due to smoking. Male and female smokers do lose an average of 13.2 and 14.5 years of life. At least half of all lifelong smokers die earlier as a result of this. Male and female smokers lose an average of 13.2 and 14.5 years of life, respectively. At least half of all lifelong smokers die earlier as a result of smoking.
- The risk of dying from lung cancer before age 85 is 22.1% for a male smoker
11.9% for a female current smoker
- The corresponding estimates for lifelong non-smokers are a 1.1% probability of dying from lung cancer before age 85 for a man of European descent and a 0.8% probability for a woman
- Smoking one cigarette a day results in a risk of heart disease that is halfway between that of a smoker and a non-smoker.
Many governments are trying to deter people from smoking with anti-smoking campaigns in the mass media telling about the harmful long-term effects of smoking. Passive smoking/second hand smoking affects people immediately and is the reason of the smoking bans. This has changed the law and banned smoking indoors in public places such as bars, pubs and restaurants to discourage people from smoking by making it more inconvenient and to stop harmful smoke being present in public spaces. But surveys show that rates of smoking has declined in the developed countries and continued to rise in the developing world.
Even though nicotine is a highly addictive drug and its effects, its effects is not as intense as other drugs like cocaine, amphetamines or any other opiates including heroine or morphine.
Smoking is also a risk factor in Alzheimer’s disease but smoking more than 15 cigarettes a day has also shown to worsen symptoms of Crohn Disease. So what happens when we inhale the vaporized gas from a cigarette? The drug is delivered very fast into the bloodstream as the gas diffuses directly into the pulmonary vein, then into the heart and from there to the brain and affects the user within less than a second of the first inhalation. Explained with details; our lungs consists of several million tiny bulbs called alveoli that altogether have an area of over 70 m². The inhaled substances, a cigarette in this case, triggers a chemical reaction in nerve endings in the brain due to being similar to naturally occurring substances such as endorphins and dopamine’s, which are associated with sensations of pleasure. The result is what is usually referred to as a “high” that ranges between the mild stimulus caused by nicotine to the intense euphoria caused by heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines. There are also several other toxic compounds in tobacco that constitute serious health hazards to long-term smokers from a whole range of causes; vascular abnormalities such as stenosis, lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes, impotence, low birth weight of infants born by smoking mothers. 8% of long-term smokers develop the characteristic set of facial changes known to doctors as smoker’s face.
Most smokers begin smoking during early adulthood and it has something to do with risk taking, rebellion and friends, although many young adults are also affected by their parents that smoke. Teenagers may also be influenced by high-status models, actors or singers who smoke as it encourages them. One common thing the smokers say is that the cigarette helps them to relieve the feeling of stress even though the stress levels of adult smokers are higher than the non-smokers and it actually increase stress. This is confirmed in the daily mood patterns described by smokers as they have normal moods during smoke and it worsens between the cigarettes.
Psychologists Hans Eysenck developed a personality profile for the typical smoker explaining that smokers tend to be more sociable, impulsive, risk taking and excitement seeking people. During the early stages, smoking dos provide pleasurable sensation (because of the dopamine system that serves positive reinforcement). When a person has smoked for years, the negative reinforcement becomes higher. And also because people who smoke are aware of the negative effects smoking has on their body, they do rationalize their behaviour as they rationalize and justify why they must smoke. Smokers who need a cigarette first thing in the morning will often quote the positive effects, but will not accept that they awake feeling below normal levels of happiness (lower levels of dopamine) and merely smoke to return themselves to a “normal” level of happiness (“normal” level of dopamine).
Statistic on deaths caused by smoking worldwide
Around 5.4 million deaths a year are caused by smoking. Here are some numbers;
- Smoking is set to kill 6.5 million people in 2015 and 8.3 million humans in 2030, with the biggest rise in low-and middle-income countries.
- Every 6.5 seconds a current or former smoker dies, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and an estimated 1.3 billion people are smokers worldwide (WHO).
- Over 443,000 Americans (over 18% of all deaths) die because of smoking each year. Second-hand smoke kills about 50,000 of them.
- 1.2 million people in China die because of smoking each year. That’s 2,000 people a day.
- 33% to 50% of all smokers are killed by their habit. Smokers die on average 15 years sooner than non-smokers.
- Between 33% and 50% of all smokers will die an average of 15 years sooner than non-smokers, the Tobacco Atlas from the World Lung Foundation and the American Cancer Society believes.
- Around 100 million people died because of tobacco use in the 20th century.
- 10 years of life are robbed from smokers because they die 10 years earlier than non-smokers. Smoking causes more death and disability than any single disease (World Health Organization).
- In India, about 900,000 Indians a year die from smoking-related diseases that are nearly one in 10 of all deaths in India. Half of Indian males use tobacco and it is becoming more popular with younger people. Nearly 6 lakh people die from bidi-smoking every year in India, according to the Caught in a Death Trap: A Study on Bidi Rollers of West Bengal and Gujarat study.
- In Russia, smoking kills between 400,000 and 500,000 Russians every year from smoking ailments.
- In Japan, smoking is the leading cause of death and is responsible for 20% of all cancers. 50 percent of men and 14 percent of women smoke.
- In Indonesia, an estimated 200,000 people die each year of smoking-related diseases.
- About a quarter of deaths in 2005 were from smoking and 80% of lung and respiratory cancer cases were due to smoking.
About 220 million cigarettes were smoked by Indonesians in 2006.
- About 140,000 Germans die every year from tobacco-related illnesses. Nearly 1 in 3 German adults smokes regularly.
- In the UK, 90,000 people die from smoking each year.
6,000 people in Wales are killed by smoking every year.
- In Turkey, around 110,000 people each year die of smoking-related illnesses, according to official figures.
- In Nigeria, 6.5 million citizens are expected to die from smoking over time.
- In Pakistan, 100,000 people die each year because of smoking.
- In France, there are about 66,000 smoking-related deaths each year and up to 5,800 deaths from passive smoking, inhaling the smoke of smokers. About 12 million people are a smoker, that’s 25% of the population.
- Mexico has around 65,000 cigarette-related deaths a year. The country has 105 million people.
- In Spain, there are 50,000 smoking-related deaths annually. About 30% of Spaniards smoke.
- In South Korea, an estimated 49,000 people die each year of smoking-related diseases, according to the private Korean Association of Smoking and Health.
- 50,000 Iranians die each year from tobacco related illnesses, according to the government. Some say the number of deaths is 60,000 a year. 200,000 Iranian projected to die from smoking by 2019.
- In Malaysia, nearly 40,000 people died of smoking-related diseases in the last 5 years, now it is around 10,000 a year.
- In Vietnam, 40,000 citizens die every year due to diseases caused by smoking.
- In Canada, 37,000 people die from smoking every year, according to the Ministry of Health.
In Egypt, there are 34,000 tobacco-related deaths each year.
- 33,000 Romanians die every year because of smoking. There were 6.5 million smokers aged 25 to 44 years old in Romania.
- In Saudi Arabia, 22,000 Saudis die of smoking related diseases every year, according to the Anti-Smoking Society.
- In Greece, where 45% of the population smokes, an estimated 20,000 people die of smoking-related diseases each year. 600 people die every year from passive smoking and the number of smokers in Greece has gone up 10% in 10 years.
- In South Africa, 44,000 adults die each year from smoking, according to the National Council against Smoking (NCAS).
- In Australia, 15,000 to 19,000 Australians deaths each year are caused by smoking and almost 20% of the Australian population smokes. Aboriginal life expectancy is 17 years less than non-indigenous Australians. Their high smoking rate gets part of the blame. Government officials are trying to address the issue.
13,000 Scots are killed every year by tobacco where about 30% of the population smokes. Up to 2,000 people die of passive smoking annually.
Smoking kills 6 times more Scots than accidents, murder, suicide, falls and poisoning combined (Edinburgh Evening News).
- In Ireland, 6,000 people die each year from smoking-related diseases.
Smoking-related illnesses kill 2,500 people in Northern Ireland each year.
- In the Philippines, 20,000 Filipinos die from smoking-related illnesses each year (that’s 2 every hour). Smoking is linked to 5 of the top 10 leading causes of deaths, according to Government data.
- Croatia with 4.4 million people, nearly 13,000 of them dies each year because of smoking. 3,000 of those deaths are from passive smoking.
- Some 6,000 Cubans die from smoking-related illnesses.
- In New Zealand, around 5,000 kiwis die every year because of smoking-related diseases.
- About 7 people die each day in Uruguay from smoking-related causes including lung cancer, emphysema and other illnesses, anti-smoking groups estimate.
- In the Western Pacific region, tobacco kills more than 3000 people each day. It’s the leading cause of death. The Western Pacific has one third of the world’s smokers, the highest rate of male smokers and the fastest increase of smoking among children and young women.
Give yourself a chance to live longer
41% of men who smoked a pack or more a day died in middle age, compared to 14% of those who never smoked.
26% of women who smoked heavily died in middle age, compared to 9% of those who never smoked.
44.5 million Americans, currently smoke or about 21% of American adults, according to estimates from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
168,000 Americans died of cancer due to tobacco use in 2007 (American Cancer Society).
Up to 2.5 million people in China will die annually by 2025, if growing tobacco use in China continues at current trends the Beijing Daily Messenger reported, citing World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.
Harmful Effects of Smoking
The mixture of nicotine and carbon monoxide in each cigarette you smoke temporarily increases your heart rate and blood pressure, straining your heart and blood vessels.
This can cause heart attacks and stroke. It slows your blood flow, cutting off oxygen to your feet and hands. In worst case some smokers end up having their limbs amputated.
Tar coats your lungs like soot in a chimney and causes cancer as a 20-a-day smoker breathes in up to a full cup (210 g) of tar in a year. Some believe that if they change into light cigarettes with low-tar it would help but the fact is that it doesn’t because smokers usually take deeper puffs and hold the smoke in for longer, dragging the tar deeper into their lungs.
Carbon monoxide robs your muscles, brain and body tissue of oxygen, making your whole body and especially your heart work harder. Over time, your airways swell up and let less air into your lungs. The strain of smoking effects on the body often causes years of suffering. Emphysema is an illness that slowly rots your lungs. People with emphysema often get bronchitis again and again, and suffer lung and heart failure.
Nicotine Damages Brain Cell Quality
Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 16(4) 1994
Human reports as well as animal studies have recorded accelerated motor activity, learning and memory deficits in offspring’s of mothers exposed to nicotine during pregnancy. This study, conducted by Dr. T. S. Roy, Department of Anatomy, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India, is the first to investigate actual physiological changes of the cerebral cortex of rats after prenatal nicotine exposure. Several groups of experimental rats were exposed to varying levels of nicotine reaching up to that experienced by a heavy smoker. Animals were examined at different periods after birth. Observable effects included significantly reduced thickness of the cerebral cortex, smaller cerebral cortex neurons, and reduced brain weight. Also noted was an overall decrease in “dendrite branching” (connections to other brain cells), as seen in the camera lucida drawings at right. The present study also shows that the greater the dose of nicotine, the greater the biological effects upon the offspring. This research provides an excellent biological model to support the many other studies linking increased hyperactivity, attention deficits, lower IQ, and learning disabilities in children with parents who smoked during pregnancy.
Dr. T. S. Roy
Department of Anatomy, All India Institute of Medical Sciences New Delhi, India
Effects of Prenatal Nicotine Exposure on the Morphogenesis of Somatosensory Cortex
Types of cancer caused by smoking
People usually think of lung cancer when it comes to smoking and the fact is that most cases of lung cancer deaths, 90% in men and 80% in women are caused by smoking. But there are also several other forms of cancer related to smoking as well, and they include cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, bladder, stomach, cervix, kidney and pancreas, and acute myeloid leukemia.
- Cancer is the second leading cause of death and was among the first diseases causally linked to smoking.
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, and cigarette smoking causes most cases.
- Compared to non-smokers, men who smoke are about 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer and women who smoke are about 13 times more likely. Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80% in women.
- In 2003, an estimated 171,900 new cases of lung cancer occurred and approximately 157,200 people died from lung cancer.
- The 2004 Surgeon General’s report adds more evidence to previous conclusions that smoking causes cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, lung and bladder.
- Cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) in tobacco smoke damage important genes that control the growth of cells, causing them to grow abnormally or to reproduce too rapidly.
- Cigarette smoking is a major cause of esophageal cancer in the United States. Reductions in smoking and smokeless tobacco use could prevent many of the approximately 12,300 new cases and 12,100 deaths from esophgeal cancer that occur annually.
- The combination of smoking and alcohol consumption causes most laryngeal cancer cases. In 2003, an estimated 3800 deaths occurred from laryngeal cancer.
- In 2003, an estimated 57,400 new cases of bladder cancer were diagnosed and an estimated 12,500 died from the disease.
- For smoking-attributable cancers, the risk generally increases with the number of cigarettes smoked and the number of years of smoking, and generally decreases after quitting completely.
- Smoking cigarettes that have a lower yield of tar does not substantially reduce the risk for lung cancer.
- Cigarette smoking increases the risk of developing mouth cancers. This risk also increases among people who smoke pipes and cigars.
New cancers confirmed by Surgeon General’s report;
- The 2004 Surgeon General’s report newly identifies other cancers caused by smoking, including cancers of the stomach, cervix, kidney, and pancreas and acute myeloid leukaemia.
- In 2003, an estimated 22,400 new cases of stomach cancer were diagnosed, and an estimated 12,100 deaths were expected to occur.
- Former smokers have lower rates of stomach cancer than those who continue to smoke.
- For women, the risk of cervical cancer increases with the duration of smoking.
- In 2003, an estimated 31,900 new cases of kidney cancer were diagnosed, and an estimated 11,900 people died from the disease.
- In 2003, an estimated 30,700 new cases of pancreatic cancer were diagnosed, attributing to 30,000 deaths. The median time from diagnosis to death from pancreatic cancer is about 3 months.
- In 2003, approximately 10,500 cases of acute myeloid leukaemia were diagnosed in adults.
- Benzene is a known cause of acute myeloid leukaemia, and cigarette smoke is a major source of benzene exposure. Among U.S. smokers, 90% of benzene exposures come from cigarettes.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
How does smoking cause ageing of the skin?
It is not certain exactly how smoking cause’s early ageing of the facial skin but theories include that;
- Heat from the cigarette directly burning the skin
- Changes in the elastic fibers of the skin
- Narrowing of blood vessels (vasoconstriction), which reduces blood supply to the skin and can cause changes in skin elastic fibers and loss of collagen
- Reducing Vitamin A levels and moisture of the skin
- Smoking ages the skin
- Smoking can accelerate the skin aging process in the skin. Aging of the skin means that it droops, develops wrinkles and lines and can become dry and coarse with uneven skin coloring and broken blood vessels (telangiectasia). Smokers can appear gaunt and develop an orange or gray complexion.
Since the 1970’s studies have shown that smoking results in more premature facial wrinkling than sun exposure. Lines around the eyes called “crow’s feet” can develop at an earlier age. Multiple vertical lines around the mouth also occur and are called “smoker’s lines”. These effects continue into old age. By the age of 70 years, smoking 30 cigarettes a day could lead to the equivalent of an extra 14 years of skin ageing.
Another thing smoking causes is that it delays wound healing including skin injuries and surgical wounds as it increases the risk of wound infection, graft or flap failure, and death of tissue and blood clot formation. The reasons for this are;
- Vasoconstriction and lack of oxygen reaching skin cells
- Decreased collagen synthesis
- Delayed growth of new blood vessels within the wound.
It’s never too late to quit smoking
Quitting smoking reduces the risk of cancer and other diseases, such as heart disease and COPD, caused by smoking. People who quit smoking, regardless of their age, are less likely than those who continue to smoke to die from smoking-related illness:
- Age 30: Studies have shown that smokers who quit at about age 30 reduce their chance of dying prematurely from smoking-related diseases by more than 90%.
- Age 50: People who quit at about age 50 reduce their risk of dying prematurely by 50% compared with those who continue to smoke.
- Age 60: People who quit at about age 60 or older, live longer than those who continue to smoke.
What are the immediate benefits of quitting smoking?
The immediate health benefits of quitting smoking are substantial:
- Heart rate and blood pressure, which are abnormally high while smoking, begin to return to normal.
- Within a few hours, the level of carbon monoxide in the blood begins to decline. (Carbon monoxide reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen.)
- Within a few weeks, people who quit smoking have improved circulation, produce less phlegm, and don’t cough or wheeze as often.
- Within several months of quitting, people can expect substantial improvements in lung function.
- In addition, people who quit smoking will have an improved sense of smell, and food will taste better.
- Within the first 20 minutes of quitting, the healing process begins. The benefits will continue to improve your health and quality of life for years.
If you want to know what substances each cigarette contains, take a look at;