Cigarette smoking is a fashion today and it is a habit which has gained social acceptability and respectability. In social gatherings, after dinner or lunch or even in free time we relax with a cigarette or a cigar. Smoking knows no national boundaries. While the rich in the West indulge in expensive Cuban cigars and branded costly cigarettes, those in developing countries go for cheaper brands or even local substitutes of cigarettes like ‘beedis’ in India. Sometime back it was estimated that there are around 20 million regular smokers of cigarettes in India. The figure must have gone up considerably since then. Add to it, the beedi-smokers whose number may be twice as large and only then you can have some idea of the gigantic size of this problem. For the entire world, the total number of smokers was estimated about 10 years back as 1.22 billion. When this habit is so widespread, the question arises as to why I am raising the issue of quitting smoking.
Man has always tried to find an easy way to get ecstasy and forget his pain through drugs, alcohol and smoking. Although, the last one seems harmless and has acquired social acceptability, it is in fact the most dangerous and harmful so far its magnitude is concerned. Tobacco is the most widely used drug and its consumption leads to severe health damage. Smoking cigarettes is the most common method of consuming tobacco. Cigarettes are addictive and the smoker becomes the slave of this addiction with both psychological and physiological dependence. All of you must have seen chain-smokers who cannot remain without a lighted cigarette between their fingers.
Why do people start smoking? It is difficult to answer this question. Most smokers begin during teenage. Smoking is portrayed as rebellion and risk taking which appeals to the immature mind. It also provides pleasurable sensation and euphoria. Cigarette smoking is taken as a symbol of achieving maturity and adulthood. Peer pressure also plays a very important part. Because teenagers are under greater influence of their peers, attempts by parents, schools, and health professionals at preventing people from trying cigarettes are bound to fail. Later on after the addiction has entrenched itself, the fear of withdrawal symptoms becomes a strong motivation to continue.
Nicotine is a powerful poison and a very effective insecticide. No person in his proper senses would like to inhale an insecticide. But the smoker has reached such a state of addiction and dependence on tobacco that he blissfully ignores this fact. Each cigarette delivers into the blood stream about 1 mg of nicotine along with substantial quantity of carbon monoxide, which is again a very poisonous gas.
Smoking leads to cancer, particularly lung cancer, cancers of the larynx and mouth and pancreatic cancer. Smokers are about ten times more prone to lung cancer than non-smokers. Smoking also causes heart attacks, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis and emphysema. Medical research has shown that life expectancy of smokers is less than that of non-smokers. The World Health Organization estimates that tobacco caused 5.4 million deaths in 2004 and 100 million deaths in the 20th century. Such figures are bound to ring the alarm bells to any smoker. Incidence of impotence is approximately 85% higher in male smokers as compared to non-smokers, and smoking is a key cause of erectile dysfunction.
Besides adversely affecting the addicted person's health, smoking has an equally devastating effect on his finances. It is a very expensive habit. I will jut quote one true story which appeared in the Reader’s Digest. "W.G.Kortesmaki, a 20-a-day smoker, gave up smoking suddenly in 1953. To keep himself honest, he put aside each day the price of a packet of cigarettes. In 1970, he had Rs.21,038, including Rs.3,190 in interest - enough to pay for a five-week trip to Europe for himself, his wife and their two daughters. Every cent was money he had not burnt" (Reader's Digest, May 1972). You can guess how much money is just wasted due to the habit of smoking.
Smoking is one of the hardest habits to give up, and the addict continues cigarette smoking even though he is fully aware of the damage that he is doing to his own body. The withdrawal symptoms that every smoker faces when he tries to give up smoking can make him go back to this bad habit. To get rid of the habit, one needs not only a great deal of determination to break free from this slavery to an addiction but also constant support of friends and relatives. They should make him realize the greater and long term benefits of quitting this addiction then the transient satisfaction of smoking. And once he stops smoking, he will soon find that he can think more clearly, that he sleeps better and that his senses of taste and smell have improved.
Have you or anybody you know tried to quit those evil life draining cancer sticks? Do you seem to just lack the will power to stop smoking? Did you fail like 99 out of 100 Quitters do?
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