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Smoking effects and how to stop

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It is generally agreed that smoking is bad for health but it is very difficult for a smoker to understand that. According to the World Health Organisation, the 20th century has seen the deaths of about 100 million people solely because of smoking. It is not a phenomenon present in developed countries only; it occurs around the whole globe and affects both men and women. The effects of smoking have been studied a lot since these can be tracked in the human body and so there is much information regarding this problem. Smoking causes death over a certain time period yet it is not impossible to quit, just a question of will before the situation gets too out of hand.

Cigarettes contain about 4,000 chemicals amongst which is nicotine which causes the high and dependency; also present is tar which blocks the lungs, carbon monoxide that binds to red blood cells and reduces the capacity of the cells to carry oxygen and a number of carcinogens that lead ultimately to cancers (throat, cervix, pancreas, throat, mouth, breasts). Research has shown that recently there has been the addition of ammonia to cigarettes which is not filtered out during smoking and thus causes the high with nicotine in 7 secs! It makes the person very dependent then since the body gets used to the chemicals and demands deeper puffs which destroy the body slowly.

Effects of smoking

Immediate effects of smoking include the high, watery eyes, nausea, dizziness, loss of appetite, increased blood pressure and heart rate, shortness of breath while long term effects are mainly chronic coughing, yellowed teeth and nails, infertility in female and reduced potency in male, appearance of wrinkles at an earlier age, difficulty in concentration and a number of health related problems. Withdrawal symptoms when a person quits include agitation, increased nervousness, headaches, change in eating and sleep patterns. Smoking accounts for 80%-90% of heart diseases, lung cancers and is the major cause of emphysema and chronic bronchitis worldwide.

While active smoking leads to death in the long term with a reduced life time of 10 years for heavy smokers (20/day), passive smoking (ETS, Environmental Tobacco Smoke/Second Hand Smoke) also causes health issues to non smokers. People living with smokers have a 25% chance of dying from heart diseases and a 60% chance of getting heart related complications. It is also very risky for children who may then suffer from lung problems, pneumonia, middle ear infections as well as premature death in babies and deformities at birth which is why pregnant women are encouraged to stop smoking when they know that they are carrying babies.

Smoking statistics in Mauritius

Statistics in Mauritius are not very reliable since many smokers hold back on information and many people do not even admit to being smokers. However, based on some studies, it has been seen that 21.7% of the population of smokers is aged between 24 and 74 years with men accounting for 40.3% and women 3.7% whilst youngsters aged between 19 and 24 years account for 28.5%. Smoking starts at a very young age and the longer the person smokes, the more damage is done and the shorter the lifetime becomes.

How to stop smoking

Many people believe that smoking gives off a macho look, do so socially or because of peer pressure. Though having a firm conviction is good enough to stop smoking, it becomes very difficult to do so on your own, especially when you have been smoking for years. Outside help is necessary if people are willing enough to go find them. There is a stop-smoking clinic, Odette Leal, at Beau Bassin, to help people quit smoking as well as a number of other means such as chewing gum, pills, patches that release nicotine directly into the system without the need to breathe in the other chemicals of cigarettes and which can be taken every time the need to smoke is felt until the person can totally quit. In an attempt to reduce smoking in Mauritius, the government has imposed taxes on cigarettes with an increase in price per pack, the prohibition of sale to minors/in small quantities and the prohibition to smoke in public places such as bus shelters, restaurants, work places etc disrespect of which leads to a fine of Rs 10,000 and imprisonment of one year.

yonne Published 05 Jul 2011