, Research Paper
We weren’t made for smoking and neither was our environment. By now, almost everyone knows that smoking and other tobacco use causes cancer. But did you know it’s also the number one cause of heart disease and emphysema, too? In fact, smoking is the main cause of preventable death in Canada. Cigarette smoking also has a heavy impact on the world’s natural environment. You can guess what cigarette smoke does to the air in a room.
That first puff you take… and afterward you get addicted to it for life. When you use tobacco, the effects on your body are immediate. Your pulse increases. Breathing becomes faster and more shallow. Circulation begins to drop. A cocktail of more than 4,000 substances – more than 50 of them cancer- causing – hits your lungs. Poisonous compounds like carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and ammonia gas enter your bloodstream. Meanwhile, nicotine begins to feed the cycle of addiction.
Research shows that if you use tobacco, you’re more susceptible to physical injury. A study by the U.S. Army found that heavy smokers were twice as likely to be injured while exercising as non- smokers. Physically-fit smokers broke bones and sprained ankles more often that similarly fit non-smokers. And the more the soldiers smoked, the more likely they were to develop blisters on 160-km marches. Amount smoked Injury rate Non-smokers 20 per cent 1-10 cigarettes per day 35 per cent 10 or more cigarettes per day 40 per cent It isn’t just soldiers, and it isn’t just young people who face a higher risk of injury. Older women who smoke, for example, get more hip fractures. Researchers at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and the Royal London School of Medicine in the U.K. reported recently that “of all hip fractures, one in eight is attributed to smoking.” The risk of hip fractures is 17 per cent higher for smokers than non-smokers at the age of 60, they report in the British Medical Journal. 70-year-old smokers have a 41 per cent higher risk, and 90-year-olds have more than twice the risk. While there isn’t as much data on men, what information exists suggests “a similar proportionate effect in smokers.” But there’s good news for women. “Stopping smoking prevents further excess bone loss, and stopping at the time of menopause should avoid the excess risk.”
According to the San Francisco Tobacco-Free coalition, the environmental damage caused by the tobacco industry goes way beyond air pollution:
Litterbutts: Take those cigarette butts you see all over the ground. They take roughly 25 years to decompose. After their annual beach cleanup, California officials discovered that cigarette butts made up half of the garbage they found on the state’s beaches. Butts wash down storm drains and into rivers, lakes and the ocean. Fish, birds and other animals eat the butts, mistaking them for food – but with no way to digest the filters, they die. Great – one more chemical to worry about: Growing tobacco means using pesticides – lots of pesticides. In developing countries, farmworkers – many of them children – end up exposed to cancer-causing chemicals that also leach into the local soil and water.
Smoke a butt, kill a tree: In some countries, tobacco curing barns burn an entire square kilometre of forest for every square kilometre of tobacco they cure. In a single hour, one cigarette-making machine uses four miles of paper rolling and packing cigarettes
Every 13 seconds, someone in the world dies from a tobacco-related illness. And every year, tobacco kills: o5,800 British Columbians, o45,000 Canadians, o418,000 Americans (compared to 1,000 Americans who die from cocaine abuse), and o2.5 million people world-wide – a number the World Health Organization says will grow to 4 million by the year 2000.
Of the 3,000 American youth who start smoking every day,
-30 will be murdered,
-60 will die in traffic accidents,
-and 750 will be killed by a smoking related disease.
But the real bottom line is that more than half of young smokers today – 55 per cent of boys, and 51 per cent of girls – can count on dying from a tobacco-related disease… unless they quit.