On average, the first cigarette is smoked at 14 years old, and smoking becomes active from 16 years of age.

Thus tobacco has become intergenerational and concerns the whole population, both men and women.

The smoking facts: why is smoking bad for you?

The effects of smoking are not unfamiliar, however, did you know you could feel the positives of quitting within 20 minutes of your last cigarette as your pulse returns to normal level?

Whilst reaping the benefits so soon is ideal motivation, it’s the long-term benefits that should be the main driver to quit. For example, many smoking statistics have directly linked the habit to long-term health conditions, as well as terminal illnesses, but the risk of these can be considerably lessened the longer you can stay smoke-free.

Making the decision to quit smoking reduces your chance of developing the following health problems:

  • Lung cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Throat and mouth cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Impotence in men
  • Cervical cancer in women
  • Infertility
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney failure

Health – It is estimated that smoking is responsible for around 85% of deaths related to lung cancer, and a quarter of all cancer deaths overall in the UK, with the World Health Organization (WHO) predicting the global toll related to smoking to rise from 6 million to 8 million by 2030. Most surprisingly, in England, almost a quarter of a million NHS GP visits are due to children being exposed to passive smoking. To be gender specific, women have a lowered level of fertility whilst the male counterparts in their 30s and 40s have a 50% chance of suffering from erectile dysfunction.

The senses and organs – Smoking has been known to have a negative impact on your taste and sense of smell while passive smoking may also affect your health, sometimes triggering breathing problems such as asthma, which may affect the mouth, lungs, stomach, liver or pancreas.

Price – The NHS is said to spend around £2 billion each year on smoking related illnesses, aid and medication. It’s no exaggeration to say that stopping smoking can also save you a small fortune per year.

Smoking also has a collective effect, since many passive smokers suffer the harmful effects of their fellow citizens’ cigarettes. It is a major social problem insofar as tobacco kills people every day, and causes serious diseases. Stopping smoking seems, therefore, to be a collective and personal necessity, as the social and personal costs associated with smoking are high.

Tobacco has a high price…for everyone

In France in particular this price is a social one, as 10 billion euros are invested in prevention campaigns and social security spending… It is also estimated that the number of passive smokers have a 10 to 15% higher chance of developing heart disease and cancers of the throat and lungs (people working in casinos; servers in places where smoking is, or was until recently, allowed; all people exposed to a smoking environment, etc.).

Cigarettes have an environmental impact

The environmental effects of tobacco are also adding to the communal and social cost. For example, the smoke of 20 cigarettes is the same as the Parisian pollution peak threshold. In addition, cigarette smoke releases toxic components into the air (inside and outside) through the production of ammonia, tar, radioactive substances (polonium), heavy metals (mercury, lead), benzene and all other harmful substances present in a cigarette, including 40 carcinogens.

Serious, but avoidable consequences

Furthermore, tobacco is the leading cause of avoidable death, on average causing 70,000 deaths. This is also comparable with a personal cost, since smoking causes major diseases and disorders in smokers, thus potentially leading to death.

One in two smokers dies from tobacco dependence from the age of 35 onwards, most not living past the age of 64.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of death, but it is necessary to add that other respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disorders like heart attacks and vascular and arterial accidents also cause death by smoking.

But also, tobacco causes thyroid, throat and mouth cancers…Thus, a smoker’s life expectancy decreases by 10 to 15 years, and stopping smoking can “earn back” 11 minutes of life expectancy from the first cigarette that goes unsmoked.

How to stop smoking?

Faced with this morbid and harmful conclusion, many people have tried to stop smoking or want to stop. In fact, 58% of smokers have admitted this, and it is estimated that around 2000 people a day stop smoking for a year. So every year, the number of ex-smokers is between 400,000 and 500,000.

What about the other people?

More than half fail, and 71% fail to last longer than a week, on average. Moreover, even fewer people manage to stop after the first attempt. But why this failure?

Because stopping smoking is hard, people who smoke are very dependent, especially during the quitting stage, during which the relapse and dropout rate is the highest. It is necessary to consider tobacco as a drug, because of the substance contained in the tobacco leaves, nicotine.

As smokers are addicted to nicotine, they are also addicted to the effects of the endorphin that nicotine promotes and stimulates in the brain. To do this, it assumes the position of natural neurotransmitters in the brain and binds dopamine-producing neurons in their place, and stimulates their production.

Nicotine, responsible for this “feeling of absence”

Nicotine is therefore psychoactive, as it has anxiolytic and stimulating properties. When a smoker does not smoke for a few hours, the production of endorphins decreases and the smoker misses it. This lack is characterised by nervousness and irritability, instantly calmed by a puff on a cigarette, since smoke enters the brain in under 10 seconds.

If a smoker stops permanently, this feeling of absence will be enduring, persistent and intense. Nervousness and irritability can mutate into anxiety, insomnia and depression in some cases. This comes from stopping smoking, or how to readjust the brain to normal endorphin and dopamine levels.

This phase is even harder the longer the smoker has been addicted to cigarettes, as he has accumulated higher and higher levels of nicotine, and his brain has got used to its production and wants more and more as the years go by.

Medical review on January 7, 2021 by Dr. Davis Taylor


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