The Perils of Tobacco Use


By David L. Cottrell

Smoking is a major contributor to diseases such as emphysema, C.O.P.D., and lung cancer.  It can worsen high blood pressure and diabetes.  Smokers are more likely to have strokes.  Smokers are more susceptible to colds, flu, and other infections.  About 85-90% of C.O.P.D. cases result from smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke.

Smokers often end up with lung cancer.  Most lung diseases result from long-term smoking, but there are more immediate issues as well, including: reduced fertility; high blood pressure; worsening diabetes issues; reduction of oxygen to the cells and heart; thickened blood vessel walls; blood clotting; high cholesterol; and Aneurysms.

Tobacco smoke has about 4000 chemicals in it, many of them cancer-causing.  Among the worst are: formaldehyde; cyanide; arsenic; strychnine; acetylene; ammonia; acetone; and methanol.  Over 40 chemicals in cigarette smoke can be directly linked to cancer.  Over 400 others are harmful or toxic.

Quitting is one of the hardest things for a smoker to do.  Nicotine is an opioid, and can be as addictive as heroin.  A smoker’ s brain is changed by smoking.  It develops additional receptors to handle the large doses of nicotine from smoke.  If a person suddenly stops smoking, they usually go into nicotine withdrawal and have feelings of anxiety, irritability, and a strong nicotine craving.

Smoking can trigger poor night vision and even blindness.  Nicotine restricts production of a chemical needed to see well at night.  Smoking increases the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Smoking can take a big toll on your oral health.  Mouth sores, ulcers, and gum disease, cavities and tooth loss are common side effects of smoking.

Smoking can increase blood pressure and worsen hypertension.  Over time, stress on the heart can weaken it.  It becomes less able to pump sufficient blood to your body.  Carbon monoxide contributes to the lack of oxygen in the blood.  The heart must work harder and harder, leading to serious heart disease or heart attacks.

Smoking can increase fat and cholesterol in the bloodstream, leading to a fatty build up on artery walls, thus narrowing them.  This blocks normal blood flow to the body, and puts even more strain on the heart and increases blood pressure.

Smoking inflames the airways and tissues of the lungs.  Respiratory infections are more common in smokers.  In worst case scenarios, lung cancer is the eventual result.  One third of all cancer deaths can be directly linked to smoking.

Smokers are more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes. Smoking makes it more difficult to control blood glucose levels once you develop diabetes.  Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney disease or failure, heart disease, and amputations.  Combining smoking AND diabetes can be very deadly.

Female smokers often have lower estrogen levels, contributing to dry skin, thinning hair, and memory problems.  Women smokers have more difficulty getting pregnant and have fewer healthy babies.  Smoking can contribute to earlier menopause, increase the risk of heart disease and other issues.

In men, smoking increases the risk of erectile dysfunction.  Toxins in smoke can damage the genetic material in sperm, resulting in infertility and genetic defects in their children.

Long-term smoking can lead to more autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. It also decreases your body’s innate ability to fight off diseases such as cancer.

Smoking can lead to restricted blood vessels, decreasing the availability of oxygen and nutrients in the bloodstream.  Wounds and infections take longer to heal.  Another side effect of this is poor muscle tone and mass.  Muscles need blood and oxygen or they get weaker, ache, and tire out more easily.

Smoking can disrupt bone health.  Development of new bone tissue slows.  Existing bones break down more easily.  Smoking can lead to thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density.  Bones become weak and brittle.  They break more easily and take longer to heal.

Over one in three smokers will die as a result of disease and health issues caused by smoking.  Smoking kills over 400,000 people yearly in America.

Tobacco use takes a huge toll on the human body.  It is very addictive.  It becomes more difficult to cut back or quit the longer you smoke.  The health risks and side ffects are tremendous.  Before you start smoking, please think long and hard about it.  Every day you smoke, it gets harder to give it up and the health risks get worse.

Submitted by David L. Cottrell for
Drug and Alcohol Presentations, Inc.
Charleston, WV