Cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States. It accounts for more than 440,000 of the more than 2.4 million annual deaths. Cigarette smoking is so widespread and significant as a risk factor that the Surgeon General has called it "the leading preventable cause of disease and deaths in the United States." The report said more than 12 million people have died from smoking-related diseases in the 40 years since the first surgeon general’s report on smoking and health was released in 1964. On average, the surgeon general says, smokers die 13 to 14 years before nonsmokers.Each time a smoker lights up, that single cigarette takes about 5 to 20 minutes off the person's life. Smoking kills around 114,000 people in the UK each year alone. Of these deaths, about 42,800 are from smoking-related cancers, 30,600 from cardiovascular diseaseand 29,100 die slowly from emphysemaand other chronic lung diseases. Cardiovascular disease is the main cause of death due to smoking. Globally around 2.5 million people die each year from smoking and it has been estimated that some time during the 2020's the number of deaths caused by smoking will hit the 10 million mark. In the US, 1 in every 4 people die of cancer and over half a million people die each year from this disease. To give you a clearer idea, more than 1,500 people a day die from cancer. Smoking reduces a person's life expectancy from anything from 7 years to 30 years.
Most people know that smoking can cause
lung cancer, but it can also cause many other cancers and illnesses. Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing several chronic disorders. One is atherosclerosis; it is a chief contributor to the high number of deaths from smoking. Atherosclerosisis the hardening of the arteries is a process that develops over years, when cholesterol and other fats deposit in the arteries, leaving them narrow, blocked or rigid. When the arteries narrow, blood clots are likely to form.
Over the long term, smoking leads people to develop health problems like heart disease, stroke, emphysema (breakdown of lung tissue), and many types of cancer — including lung, stomach, esophagus, larynx, mouth, and throatand bladder. People who smoke also have an increased risk of infections like bronchitis, pneumonia
, emphysema (breathlessness caused by damage to the air sacs) and chronic bronchitis (coughing with a lot of mucus that continues for at least three months). Blood clots in the heart and brain are the most common causes of sudden death. Coronary thrombosisis a blood clot in the arteries supplying the heart, which can lead to a heart attack. Around 30 percent are caused by smoking. Also there is cerebral thrombosis, that iswhen the vessels to the brain can become blocked, which can lead to collapse, stroke and paralysis. If the kidney arteries are affected, then high blood pressure or kidney failureresults. Blockage to the vascular supply to the legs may lead to gangrene and amputation. Smokers tend to develop coronary thrombosis 10 years earlier than non-smokers, and make up 9 out of 10 heart bypass patients.
The majority of people who die from smoking will have suffered from one of three main diseases: lung cancer, coronary heart disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In the US, coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death and more than 2,600 people die each day from some form of cardiovascular disease, which may have been caused by smoking. Another major illness and cause of death from smoking is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The main diseases are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The airways and tissues of the lungs are destroyed, which will in time make breathing extremely difficult. Sufferers of these diseases may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, constant coughing and tiring after a small amount of exertion. Almost 35% of smoking related deaths are due to diseases of the arteries and heart. A smoker has 2 - 4 times the chance of developing chronic heart disease than a non-smoker. In fact, as a smoker, you are more likely to die from heart disease than from cancer.

lungs-300x237.jpgLung Damage Due To Smoking (healthy lung on left)
Most people are aware of the dangers of lung cancer, and according to the Surgeon General 90% of cases of lung cancer deaths in men are caused by smoking, and about 80% in women. 30% of all cancer deaths in the USA are caused by smoking. In addition to cancer, there are several other bad effects on the lungs. The Surgeon General has reported that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, mainly Bronchitis, pneumonia and emphysema, resulted in up to 118,000 deaths annually in the USA, 90% of which were attributable to smoking.
Smokers not only develop wrinkles and yellow teeth, they also lose bone density, which increases their risk of osteoporosis, a condition that causes older people to become bent over and their bones to break more easily. Increased risk of illness studies show that smokers get more colds, flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia than nonsmokers. And people with certain health conditions, like asthma, become sicker if they smoke.
The link between smoking and
lung cancer is clear. Ninety percent of lung cancer cases are due to smoking. If no-one smoked, lung cancer would be a rare diagnosis. Only 0.5 percent of people who've never touched a cigarette develop lung cancer. One in ten moderate smokers and almost one in five heavy smokers (more than 15 cigarettes a day) will die of lung cancer. If you smoke, the risk of contracting mouth cancer is four times higher than for a non-smoker. Cancer can start in many areas of the mouth, with the most common being on or underneath the tongue, or on the lips.
The consequences of smoking may seem very far off, but long-term health problems aren't the only hazard of smoking. Nicotine and the other toxins in cigarettes, cigars, and pipes can affect a person's body quickly.
What smoking does to you:

· Smoking raises blood pressure, which can cause hypertension which is a risk factor for heart attacks and stroke.
· Smoking worsens asthma and counteracts asthma medication by worsening the inflammation of the airways that the medicine tries to ease.
· The blood vessels in the eye are sensitive and can be easily damaged by smoke, causing a bloodshot appearance and itchiness.
· Heavy smokers are twice as likely to get macular degeneration, resulting in the gradual loss of eyesight.
· Smokers run an increased risk of cataracts. Smokers take 25 per cent more sick days year than non-smokers.
· Smoking stains your teeth and gums. Smoking increases your risk of periodontal disease, which causes swollen gums, bad breath and teeth to fall out.
· Smoking causes an acid taste in the mouth and contributes to the development of ulcers.
· Smoking also affects your looks: smokers have paler skin and more wrinkles. This is because smoking reduces the blood supply to the skin and lowers levels of vitamin A.
As well as having long-term negative effects on a person's health, smoking also has immediate effects on the body. After smoking a cigarette your blood pressure will rise and your heart rate will increase by about 20 beats per minute. Carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas, will enter the lungs and begin to replace the oxygen. The tiny hairs in the lungs that filter the air that you breathe will cease to work, as they become paralyzed by the poisons that are contained in tobacco smoke. Circulation, especially to the hands and feet becomes less efficient and the temperature of the skin may drop by up to 5°C. Your nervous system will be altered and smoking can cause muscle tension.
Many of the chemicals in cigarettes like nicotine and cyanide; they are actually poisons that can kill in high enough doses. The body is smart; it goes on the defense when it's being poisoned. For this reason, many people find it takes several tries to get started smoking. First-time smokers often feel pain or burning in the throat and lungs, and some people feel sick or even throw up the first few times they try tobacco. The consequences of this poisoning happen gradually. These diseases limit a person's ability to be normally active, and they can be fatal. Cigarettes contain more than
4000 chemical compounds and at least 400 toxic substances. The products that are most damaging are:

  • Tar- a carcinogen (substance that causes cancer)
  • nicotine- is addictive and increases cholesterol levels in your body
  • carbon monoxide- reduces oxygen in the body
The number of people under the age of 70 who die from smoking-related diseases exceeds the total figure for deaths caused by breast cancer, AIDS, traffic accidents and drug addiction. Major diseases caused by smoking Treating smoking-related diseases costs the nation $75 billion annually. The loss of productivity from smoking is estimated to be $82 billion annually. The number of people who smoke has dropped from about 42 percent in 1965 to about 22 percent in 2002 according to the surgeon general. Needless to say the effects of smoking and tobacco are disastrous. According to the American Heart Association, non-smokers live on average about 14 years longer than smokers. If you are a smoker and you want to live a longer, healthier life; you should seriously consider quitting as soon as possible.

Where can I get cigarettes?
You can get cigarettes in any store or gas station.
How old do I have to be to buy cigarettes?
You have to be 18 years old to legally buy cigarettes.
What’s in a cigarette?
Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compounds and 400 other toxins. These include nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide, as well as formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, and DDT.

There are short-term effects of smoking as well as long-term. One of the most prominent short-term effects is bad breath. Smokers cannot smell their breath, but non-smokers can, and cannot stand it. Another effect, this one much more serious, is an increased heart rate and clogged arteries. This is one of the reasons many smokers die from sudden heart attacks. Smoking can also have an effect on your digestive system, with one example being an increased amount of acid in the stomach, which can be very painful. Another is a dramatic reduction in appetite, resulting in severe weight loss.

People who are addicted to smoking are really just addicted to nicotine. Nicotine is the addictive drug found in cigarettes. Your body thinks that it "needs" a cigarette, when it really is just wanting the nicotine. With the first puff of the cigarette, nicotine is in your brain within 10 seconds. Then you continue to take puffs because it feels good, and it relaxes your body. But with every puff you are putting more of the nicotine in your brain, and it will eventually change your brains chemical structure. Nicotine releases dopamine in your brain that gives you a feeling of pleasure. This is also the same thing that is released with the use of heroine or crack. When the nicotine supply is cut off for a period of time, your body begins to have intense withdraws (
Many people turn to nicotine patches or gum to help quit smoking. These nicotine substitutes will give our body the amount of nicotine it thinks it needs. It gives a safe amount. It is distributed to your brain at a lower rate, which helps your body overcome the addiction. You can lower your doses over time, and eventually not need it at all. (