What is tobacco?
Tobacco is the dried leaf of a plant
that grows in many parts of the world. Tobacco contains many chemicals
including a drug called nicotine, which is a mild stimulant and very
addictive, tar and carbon monoxide (the same gas that car exhausts pump
out). Tobacco is found in cigarettes and cigars.
Cigarettes may also
be known as; fags, smokes, joints and roll-ups.
What are the immediate effects of smoking?
Nicotine is a powerful, fast acting drug, when smoke
is inhaled, the nicotine effect hits the brain about 8 seconds later.
Nicotine speeds up the heart rate and increases blood pressure. The
carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke greatly affects the heart as it reduces the bloods ability to carry oxygen. Nicotine helps reduce
stress, anxiety and boredom. However, this effect fades quickly, which
encourages continual use. If you are a first time user it may make you
If you smoke regularly it makes your breath smell
(known as halitosis)
and can turn your fingers and teeth yellowy-brown.
Did you know smoking could affect the way you
Most people know smoking seriously affects internal
organs, particularly the heart and lungs,
but did you know it also affects a persons appearance by altering
the skin, body weight and shape. Smoking can also have a noticeable
ageing effect on the body. A smokers skin is estimated to wrinkle
up to 20 years earlier than that of a non-smoker.
The skin is affected by tobacco in two ways, firstly
tobacco released into the environment has a drying effect on the skins
surface. Secondly, because smoking restricts blood vessels, it reduces
the amount of blood flowing to the skin, so depriving your skin of oxygen
and essential nutrients.
Body weight and shape can be greatly affected by
smoking tobacco. Smokers in general tend to be thinner than non-smokers
and this is believed to be because nicotine acts as an appetite suppressant
and increases the metabolic
What are the long-term effects of smoking tobacco?
Tobacco and smoking cause long-term damage to your
health and can kill. Smoking causes chest problems, cancer, infertility and heart
disease. Smoking may also lead to an earlier menopause.
cancer is the cancer most associated with smoking. Lung cancer
kills more people than any other type of cancer and at least 80% of
these deaths are caused by smoking. However, there are other types of
cancer, which can be caused by smoking, these include: cancer
of the mouth, lip and throat, cervical
cancer, anal cancer, pancreatic cancer, bladder cancer and leukaemia.
Tobacco contributes to at least 2000
limb amputations each year. Smoking will also raise your blood cholesterol levels and blood
pressure and these 2 factors are the main 2 reasons why people
get coronary heart disease. Smoking accounts for 30,000 heart disease
deaths in the U.K. every year.
Every puff of a cigarette irritates the lining
in your mouth. This can lead to sores, ulcers and can damage your gums,
causing you to loose your teeth.
On average smokers have far more complications
during pregnancy such as premature birth or even a still-birth.
Women who smoke during pregnancy are also at risk of giving birth to
a lighter baby (an average 8ozs/200 grams lighter than babies born to
non-smokers) and a low birth weight is associated with higher risks
of death and disease in infancy and early childhood. There is also an
increased risk of cot death in babies whose mother has smoked during
pregnancy. Smoking in men has also been associated with low sperm counts and impotence.
Smoking is expensive, 10 cigarettes a day will cost
approximately £800 upwards each year.
What about passive smoking?
Breathing in other peoples smoke, known as passive
smoking can cause breathing difficulties, asthma and cancer. More than 17,000 children under the age of 5 are admitted
to hospital every year because of the effects of passive smoking. Children
are more susceptible to the effects of passive smoking and children
who live in a household where both parents smoke, are receiving a nicotine
equivalent of smoking 80 cigarettes a day.
Are there any laws on the sale of tobacco?
It is illegal for a shop-keeper to sell tobacco
to anyone under the age of 16 in the U.K., although the use of tobacco
products by children under the age of 16 is not illegal.
What about giving up?
If you want to give up you should prepare yourself
mentally, firstly set a date and know what you will gain from giving
up. Secondly analyse what triggers you to smoke, is it boredom, alcohol
or parties? Giving up can leave you with a sense of emptiness for at
least a month so try and think of something to overcome this, it could
be a new hobby.
Get professional help from your doctor, pharmacist
or phone the quit line on 0800 00 22 00.
Make a list of reasons why you want to stop and
then use these reasons to help you when things are tough. Most people
will use a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) when trying to give up,
ensure you choose the right method for you. The NRT patches are the
best option for you if you are the kind of smoker who needs a cigarette
within 30 minutes of waking. The patch delivers nicotine into the system
steadily to reduce withdrawal effects. If you are more of a social smoker
or smoke when stressed then gum or lozenges may suit you better and
can help break down the association between smoking and certain emotions.
Most people, especially women also worry that when they
give up they will put on weight, the good news is that exercise even
a regular 20 minute walk will boost your metabolism far better than
nicotine. Try drinking water or chewing gum to keep your mouth busy
in place of a cigarette.
If you are going to give up you have to do it completely,
if you cut down you are more likely to smoke each cigarette you do have
more intensively and end up doing yourself more harm.
If you feel under pressure or upset in the first
few weeks of giving up, fight off the temptation to smoke, dont
let it be an excuse for beginning to smoke again. It may help if you
create a treat for yourself, how much do you spend on cigarettes? On
average most people spend approximately £800 a year, so every
week put the money you would have spent on cigarettes away and use it
to treat yourself to new clothes or a holiday.
After giving up smoking your health will improve rapidly
as your body begins to repair itself. You will have more energy, breathing
will be easier and food will begin to taste better. More importantly
your heart, lungs and bladder will begin to heal. You are classed as a non-smoker when you have been
a year without a cigarette.
Facts on tobacco and smoking
- Tobacco is the only legally available consumer
product, which kills people when it is used entirely as intended.
- Every day in Britain 450 children will start
- Tobacco smoke contains about 4000 chemicals.
- The tobacco industry spends around £100
million a year on promoting its products in the U.K.
- 1 out of 2 regular smokers will die prematurely
because of their habit.
- In the U.K. smoking causes 120,000 deaths every
year, that is 330 deaths a day, six times more deaths than all other
road accidents, murders, manslaughter, poisoning, suicide, overdose
and H.I.V. infection put together.
The Detox Handbook