Dec 23, 2008, 4:26 AM
Smoking kills more than AIDS, alcohol, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined.
DR AZADEH our health adviser a Senior Lecturer at the Medical School at the University of the Gambia and a Senior Consultant Physician is focussing on this week’s health advice on the damage to the health including developing lung cancer caused by smoking and how to quit smoking to live healthier and longer.
DR AZADEH why is smoking so harmful?
It is an absolute fact that smoking became the commonest killer in human history in recent century and unfortunately Gambia is not an exception when it comes to smoking in even very young adults and not only cigarettes but also other harmful drugs in quite a large numbers. Let me give you some important statistics related to smoking in young people
Here are some facts and some information on the dangers and hazards of smoking. Reading and understanding this information should be enough to convince you to not start smoking.
• 30,700 teenagers die each year in New York from smoking, unfortunately no statistics available in the Gambia
• Recent research has revealed that smoking tobacco as a teenager does greater damage to the lungs because they are still developing.
• The average age that a child first tries tobacco is 11 also been seen here in the Gambia too.
• Almost 90 percent of adult smokers began at or before the age of 18.
• Smoking kills more than AIDS, alcohol, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined.
1. Smoking under age 18 is illegal. Using, holding, or buying of cigarettes hopefully we will have very soon the same law as western countries that cigarettes must not be sold to under age as unfortunately young children here have very easy access to go to any corner shop and buy cigarettes for themselves and their members of their families
2. Smoking reduces your ability to do things that require endurance, such as sports, etc.
The tar in the cigarettes covers up alveoli, which help you breathe, which makes for less surface area for gas exchange.
In other words, you must breathe more to get the same amount of oxygen as if you didn’t smoke. So the effect that has on sports is that you will get tired quicker due to a lack of oxygen, which inevitably reduces your endurance.
3. Smoking can seriously harm your body in ways of cancer, emphysema, etc. Also, it leads to your early demise.
4. Smoking is a repulsive habit, especially when it comes to the opposite sex.
5. Smoking makes you and your environment stink. Your room stinks, your house stinks, your clothes stink, and, if you have one, your car stinks.
6. The nicotine in cigarettes are extremely addictive, and, chances are that if you start early, then it’ll be harder to quit the habit.
7. Smoking may cause tension between friend and family relationships. If anyone gets upset that you smoke, then you’d probably get angry and fight with that person, defending why you smoke.
8. It is also a very costly habit. You may lose all your money before you know it. For example, let’s say that you smoke one pack of cigarettes per day, and the price is D25 dalasi per pack. Then every month you’d spend approximately D750 dalasi on cigarettes alone! That money could definitely be use for your health
9. contrary to what you might hear in songs or see in the movies, smoking cigarettes DOES NOT MAKE YOU LOOK COOL!
Effects on Smoking Cigarettes
• Due to tobacco use, work performance and productivity annually decreases, resulting in early termination from your job. For example, when you start working at a job, and you don’t smoke, you do fine. But when you start smoking, then each year, you get slower and slower at your job due to a lack of oxygen because of the alveoli being covered with tar.
• Nicotine in cigarettes causes a great addiction to them.
• There are also many health hazards related to smoking of which we shall now explain
Effects on the Respiratory (breathing) System
As you know, smoking cigarettes literally destroys your lungs. This destruction is caused by conditions such as smoker’s cough, emphysema, and lung cancer.
• Smoker’s Cough - a condition where the ammonia in cigarettes paralyzes the cilia in the trachea, causing tar, phlegm, etc. to slide to the bottom of the lungs. This creates a dry, hacking cough.
• Emphysema - a condition where the tar in cigarettes coats the lungs’ alveoli turning them black. As a result, the alveoli lose their elasticity and eventually explode (this damage is irreversible).
• Lung Cancer - this condition will be be deadly. This is the number 1 cancer killer in the United States.
Effects on the Circulatory System
The nicotine in cigarettes stimulates the heart and constricts the body’s blood vessels. This results in high blood pressure and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, blood clots, and fatty deposits.
Effects on Pregnancy
For further information on the potential effects on an unborn child from a mother smoking during pregnancy,
Smoking causes compulsive, often uncontrollable cravings. This is caused by the nicotine in the cigarette. When one tries to quit smoking, he or she will exhibit withdrawal symptoms, which is a reaction to your craving for nicotine. These symptoms include shaking, a cold sweat, and sometimes paranoia.
How Do You Quit?
1. Do not carry cigarettes.
2. Quit smoking one day at a time. Do not concern yourself with next year, next month, next week or even tomorrow. Concentrate on not smoking from the time you wake up until you go to sleep.
3. Work on developing the attitude that you are doing yourself a favour by not smoking. Do not dwell on the idea that you are depriving yourself of a cigarette. You are ridding yourself fully fledged smoking because you care enough about yourself to want to.
4. Be proud that you are not smoking.
5. Be aware that many routine situations will trigger the urge for a cigarette. Situations which will trigger a response include: drinking coffee, alcohol, sitting in a bar, social events with smoking friends, card games, the end of meals.
3. Try to maintain your normal routine while quitting. If any event seems to tough, leave it and go back to it later. Do not feel you must give up any activity forever. Everything you did as a smoker, you will learn to do at least as well, and maybe better, as an ex-smoker.
6. Make a list of all the reasons you want to quit smoking. Keep this list with you, preferably where you used to carry your cigarettes. When you find yourself reaching for a cigarette, take out your list and read it.
7. Drink plenty of fruit juice the first three days. It will help flush nicotine out of your system.
8. To help avoid weight gain, eat vegetables and fruit instead of candies and pastries. Celery and carrots can be used safely as short-term substitutes for cigarettes.
9. If you are concerned about weight gain, do some moderate form of regular exercise. If you have not been exercising regularly, consult your physician for a practical exercise program which is safe for you.
10. If you encounter a crisis, (e.g. a family illness) while quitting, remember, smoking is no solution. Smoking will just complicate the original situation while creating another crisis, a relapse into the nicotine addiction.
11. Consider yourself a “smoke-a-holmic.” One puff and you can become hooked again. No matter how long you have been off, don’t think you can safely take a puff!
12. Don’t debate with yourself how much you want a cigarette. Ask yourself how you feel about going back to your old level of consumption.
13. Save the money you usually spend on cigarettes and buy yourself something you really want after a week or a month. Save for a year and you can treat yourself to buy what you otherwise could not
14. Practice deep breathing exercises when you have a craving.
15. Go places where you normally can’t smoke, such as, li no smoking sections of palaces.
16. Tell people around you that you have quit smoking.
17. Remember that there are only two good reasons to take a puff once you quit. You decide you want to go back to your old level of consumption until smoking cripples and then kills you, or, you decide you really enjoy withdrawal and you want to make it last forever. As long as neither of these options appeals to you-never take another puff!
For further information please send E-Mail to email@example.com, call The Point health section, or send text to DR AZADEH on 002207774469 during working days from 3-6pm.