The Effects of Tobacco Use

Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of preventable disease and death worldwide.  But before we address this, or the effects of smoking we need to ask a bigger question. We need to ask "why".

Reasons Why People Start Smoking

1) Peer Pressure                                                                                                                                 A large part of why peer pressure is such a big reason comes is that one of the groups most likely to begin smoking, young teenagers , is also one of the most likely  to smoke due to peer pressure. This is the time of life when young people rely most heavily on friends of the same age for social support and affirmation. Enter cigarettes. If a child in a social circle starts experimenting with tobacco, it's all too easy for him or her to lead peers into smoking as well -- the smoker doesn't want to be alone, and the not-yet-smokers don't want to be seen as afraid to try something risky or boundary-pushing.

2) Social Rewards

This reason for smoking is tied to peer pressure, although it's a little more complex and has the potential to affect more than just peer-pressure-sensitive tweens and teens. In short, social rewards are the "gifts" people feel they receive when participating in a group activity. Most often, this means some form of acceptance: Smokers at an office building who take cigarette breaks at similar times may bond while they smoke. Likewise, the relationship struck when one smoker asks another, "Got a light?" gives the participants a feeling of acceptance. Although many adults mature beyond the need to constantly please their peers, we carry into adulthood the teen's desire to be part of a group. And as smoking becomes more and more restricted, smokers find common ground in complaints over dirty looks and occasional ridicule from the nonsmoking public and the increasing limits on when and where they can smoke.

3) Risk-taking Behavior


There's a thrill that comes from breaking rules. Combine that with the natural tendency of many teenagers to push the limits of rules imposed by school, parents and their communities, and it's no wonder that many young people will instinctively push against any limit. For some young people, smoking provides a perfect environment for getting that limit-pushing thrill. Since it's illegal in many countries for minors to purchase tobacco, the process of obtaining, learning to use and eventually smoking tobacco is full of broken rules from the first step. Teens get thrill after thrill from breaking so many rules, enough so that the rush can overcome the sickening effects of those first few cigarettes.

4) Parental Influence

The relationship between parents smoking and their children smoking is blunt: Children of active smokers are more likely to start smoking than children of nonsmokers, or children of parents who quit smoking. According to some studies, a parent's choice to smoke can more than double the odds that the child will smoke. Even nonsmoking parents can act in ways that inadvertently make it easier for their children to start smoking. Studies have found that parents who place few restrictions on movies, allowing their children to watch films that depict heavy smoking and drinking, may be setting their children up to be smokers. Likewise, parents who react to smoking as a socially acceptable behavior -- even if they don't smoke -- can leave the door open for their children to experiment with tobacco.

5) Misinformation

Tobacco, in some cases, is promoted as a source for increased health and vitality. Likewise, tobacco's supposed boost to virility is a long-running myth, supported in the U.S. by long-gone ads featuring masculine characters such as the Marlboro Man.

6) Genetic Predisposition

A large section of the field of modern medical research focuses on genetics, and for good reason: From allergies to blood disorders and certain types of cancer, subtle mutations in a person's genes can mean the difference between sickness and health. Medical genetic research is beginning to suggest, too, that addictions -- including addiction to nicotine, the effective ingredient in tobacco products -- may have a genetic component.

7) Advertising

Companies may have been targeting potential new smokers -- young adults -- through the use of colorful, catchy ads with stylish cartoon characters, such as Joe Camel.

8) Self-medication

For some, smoking is essentially a way to self-medicate for illnesses that cause tension and pain. Patients suffering from some forms of mental illness, such as depression or anxiety disorders, may take up smoking because it can help mitigate some of their symptoms.

9) Media Influences

Smoking in the media can have the same influence as fashion or the appearance of a trendy gadget in an actor's hand. Studies have suggested that when young viewers see a main character smoking, they're more likely to see smoking as something socially acceptable, stylish and desirable. Adding to this problem is what some researchers see as the media over-representing smoking: By some estimates, a disproportionately large number of film characters smoke.

10) Stress Relief

For people not suffering from severe mental illness, cigarettes may still become a form of self-medication. For decades, soldiers have taken up smoking on the battlefield to deal with wartime stress, for example. Many people experiencing much lower levels of stress -- in a high-pressure job, for example -- may start to smoke as a way to manage the tension and nerves associated with the situation.

So now that we know the "why", let's look at the "why not".

Long Term Effects

- heart disease

- aneurysms

- bronchitis

- emphysema

- stroke

- makes pneumonia worse

- makes asthma worse

-  gum disease

- tooth loss

- wounds take longer to heal

- immune system may not work as well.

- damages the arteries.

- male smokers have a higher risk of sexual impotence (erectile

Short Term Effects

- poor lung function

- shortness of breath

- coughs

- tire quickly during physical activity

- decreased sense of smell and taste

- premature aging of the skin

- bad breath

- stained teeth.

Now that you are informed, try to avoid smoking.

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