Health and Wellness Tip of the Week: Smoking

Though smoking among youth across Canada is largely considered to be dropping, there are still an alarming number of junior and high school students picking up the habit. British Columbia has the lowest rates of tobacco use in the country. Teen years have typically been the time when people are most vulnerable to the marketing allure of smoking – an allure that is fading as the facts against smoking mount.

Cigarettes contain over 4,000 chemicals, 43 cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) and 400 toxins including nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic and DDT. Exposure to tobacco damages the human body, doing worse harm to adolescents because their bodies are still growing.

Smoking causes:

  • Lung cancer
  • Other cancers such as cancer of the mouth, throat, voice
    box, tongue and esophagus
  • Contributes to Leukemia, cancers of the bladder, stomach,
    kidney and pancreas
  • Respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, emphysema and asthma
  • Cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks and strokes
  • Loss of bone density which increases the risk of osteoporosis
  • Lung cancer
  • Other cancers such as cancer of the mouth, throat, voice box, tongue and esophagus
  • Contributes to Leukemia, cancers of the bladder, stomach, kidney and pancreas
  • Respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, emphysema and asthma
  • Cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks and strokes
  • Loss of bone density which increases the risk of osteoporosis

With a large list of negative effects and no positive ones, many wonder why anyone would keep smoking, let alone try it. Nicotine is credited with making cigarettes highly addictive. The chemical targets the brain first and creates an illusion of a warm, tingly feeling in the body. Nicotine raises a smoker’s heart rate and blood pressure, temporarily making the smoker feel more relaxed and alert. After 30 minutes, half the nicotine leaves the body, which causes the smoker to feel edgy and less alert, so they want to light up again.

This is why smokers keep up the habit, despite the health risks and other less serious effects, including bad breath, nicotine stains and more coughs and colds.

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