The Cost of Smoking to Health

The Cost of Smoking to Health
Over one quarter of the British adult population smoke. This is to say
they inhale smoke from cigarettes, cigars or pipes. The cost of this
affects many people, smokers and non-smokers alike in many ways,
through social, financial and most significantly health reasons.
Cigarettes contain over 4000 chemical compounds, of which at least 400 are toxic. When alight, the heat in a cigarette breaks down the tobacco to produce various substances, including carbon monoxide and nicotine. The effects of smoking have an affect on virtually every part of the body, from the respiratory system to the reproductive system. It?s a well known fact smoking kills. There is a government health warning on every packet, examples include ?Smokers die younger?, ?Smoking can decrease fertility? and ?Smoking kills.? (Source: Lambert and Butler cigarette packet.) These warnings can take up to as much as half the space on the outside of a packet. According to the Office for National Statistics, the majority of smokers do want to quit (70%), and 90% of these stated a health reason for wanting to do so. So why do so many people smoke? Well cigarettes contain nicotine, which is an addictive drug. If a smoker attempts to give up without some form of nicotine supplement (for example, gum or patches), they may experience typical physical withdrawal symptoms including craving for nicotine, irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, or restlessness. In February 2000, the Royal College of Physicians published a report on nicotine addiction which concluded that ?Cigarettes are highly efficient nicotine delivery devices and are as addictive as drugs such as heroin or cocaine.? Nicotine changes how your brain and your body function. It seems its effects are a contradiction: Nicotine can both invigorate and relax a smoker, depending on how much the body has been exposed to, how regularly the body is exposed to it, and the individual in question. Unfortunately for smokers, nicotine has many adverse consequences on the body including gastrointestinal distress, relating to the stomach or intestines, emesis, as nicotine is a substance that can cause nausea, Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure), and respiratory distress such as vasoconstriction (when there is not enough time for the gas exchange to occur effectively.) Although these adverse effects demonstrate some of the cost smoking causes to health, nicotine is far from the most damaging substance in cigarettes. Carbon monoxide, the gas in cigarette smoke as well as car exhaust fumes, combines with haemoglobin in the blood far more readily than oxygen, greatly reducing the effectiveness of the gas exchange system in the lungs. The reduced levels of oxygen in the blood mean that the heart, lungs and brain cannot function properly. This can lead to permanent brain and vascular damage. It also increases the amount of a certain kind of cholesterol, ldl, causing congestion in blood vessels, increased stiffness in the walls of the arteries which is harmful to the artery and increases the risk for the artery to rupture. The other main killer component of a cigarette is tar. Not all of nicotine?s effects on the body are bad though, however. It can cause, Anxiolysis, (lowering of anxiety levels), cognitive enhancement, and the dilating of the blood vessels in the brain (cerebrovasodilation). The most significant benefit of nicotine is Neuroprotection. Nervous system cells are protected from certain types of degenerative disease. No one knows for sure quite why, but a history smoking seems to be protective against some of the neuronal loss in Alzheimer?s disease. According to a report on health benefits of smoking, found on www.quit.org.au, Smoking has also been observed to reduce the occurrence of endometrial cancer, Parkinson?s disease, ulcerative colitis and hypertension of pregnancy Smoking has been proven to increase chances of getting various types of cancer, including: ? Oral cancer: ?Tobacco is by far the most important risk factor for oral cancer. There is good evidence that after about 10 years of quitting smoking, the oral cancer risk returns to that of an individual who has never smoked.? British Dental Association (1998) ? Lung Cancer: 89% of lung cancer deaths in the UK are smoking related. In males, smoking increases chances of getting lung cancer by 27 times, compared to non-smoker ? Cancers of the nose: smokers are twice more likely to get nasal cancer than non-smokers. ? Cancer of the oesophagus ? Cancer of the kidneys ? Cancer of the pancreas ? Cancer of the cervix ? Cancer of the bladder Information obtained from ?Crash Course: Pathology?, by O?Connor and Jones reveals that coronary heart disease (particularly myocardial infarction) is the number one cause of death related to cigarette smoking, with lung cancer and chronic bronchitis emphysema closely following. The majority of cases of these diseases caused by smoking are in fact smokers themselves, but it has become increasingly clear that involuntary smoke inhalation (that is, passive smoking) also has significantly detrimental effects on health. Approximately 75% of the risks smokers have to deal with are also present to passive smokers. Many smokers argue that their habit is their choice and they have the right to harm themselves in this way if they choose to do so, but non-smokers who are in a smoky environment for example a pub, argue it is unjust that they should have to be exposed to the second hand smoke, therefore paying the cost of smoking to health themselves. Consequently it comes as no surprise that 88% of people questioned by the Office for National Statistics were in favour of smoking restrictions in public places. Passive smoking irritates the eyes, nose and chest, and can also cause headaches. Slightly fewer women smoke than men. Smoking certainly can affect fertility in men; sperm cells can be deformed, damaging its dna causing birth defects or miscarriages. Sperm count is also diminished (Source: ?Robbins Pathologic basis of disease?) However the greatest harm to children through smoking is due to mothers who smoke before, during and after pregnancy. Babies born to mothers who smoke are more likely to be born prematurely and with a low birth weight. There seems to be a direct correlation between cot death and parental smoking. Children who are exposed to passive smoking on a daily basis have twice the risk of getting asthmatic bronchitis, and asthma. Unborn babies may even become addicted to nicotine in the womb, which means they are more likely to develop into smokers themselves later in life. (Source: www.netdoctor.co.uk) Interestingly enough, smoking can even cause degeneration of the intervertebral discs in the spine. A report by the department of orthopaedic surgery, Nihon University Hospital, Tokyo, Japan, revealed that, ?Tobacco smoke inhalation increased local production and release of inflammatory cytokines and resultant decomposition of chondrocyte (cartilage cell) activity.? Other than to the health, a major cost of smoking is the financial costs. Usually it costs £4.80 for a packet of 20 cigarettes. The average smoker has one pack a day. Over a period of a month, they?ve spent £144. Over an entire year, the average smoker spends £1728. This large amount of money could have been spent on many other things which aren?t damaging to the health, for example a membership for a gym. Smoking can cause relationships and marriages to break up. One person may be a smoker and the other may not, and this could cause conflict. Also as money is one of the major reasons for arguments, its not surprising that a non-smoker may be discontented that their partner spends potentially over £2000 a year on a habit they oppose. The other reason smoking can cause distress in a relationship is fertility problems. This can in itself lead to stress related illnesses. One of the supposed advantages of smoking is stress relief. Although this may be true on a temporary basis, surveys show in fact smokers are generally more stressed than non-smokers due to the negative moods associated with nicotine deprivation. Smoking can also affect a person?s performance, at work or school for example. Generally smoking is not permitted in places of work and school, so smokers may have to go through many hours of physical withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine deprivation can seriously impair attention and competence. In severe cases this may even lead to job loss. All these are other costs of smoking. Recently, smoking has been banned in all workplaces in Ireland, including pubs. Ciaran Kelly, the non-smoking manager of The Quays pub, wholeheartedly welcomed the ban, in an interview to The Telegraph. "On the average night here it?s horrendous for the staff, half of whom don?t smoke but they might as well.? Statistics from the newspaper also showed that all three quarters of the country?s non-smokers were in favour of the law, as well as one quarter of the country?s smokers. It seems even the smokers here recognize that it is not fair that non-smokers should be exposed to second hand smoke in public places, hence also paying the costs of smoking themselves. It is also worth noting that last year over 3000 smoke related fires were caused in homes in the UK. (Source: London fire brigade)
It seems although there is the occasional advantage to smoking,
the argument against it far exceeds any reasoning to smoke. It
could be through the many diseases and adverse health effects,
financial and social reasons or even a fire caused by a
non-extinguished cigarette, but every smoker has to pay the cost
of smoking at some point in their life.

The Cost of Smoking to Health 8.7 of 10 on the basis of 1451 Review.