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What Can You Do In Thirteen Minutes?
Thirteen minutes. You could read a few chapters in a book, go for a walk, play with your dog, hang out with friends or eat a snack. What about two hundred and sixty minutes? There is an infinite list of possibilities for that span of time. Every cigarette you smoke, you take an average of thirteen minutes off your life. With every pack of cigarettes you smoke, you can take up to four hundred minutes off. That’s an average of ten years off your life. Ten years. Are you willing to give all that time away for nothing?
Do you realize how much damage cigarettes cause your body? Cigarettes corrupt your body causing your body to develop problems such as heart disease, stroke, emphysema (Which is the breakdown of lung tissue), and a wide variety of cancers. Smoking is a serious hazard to your health, and most people do not comprehend the full potential of the danger that smoking causes.
There are hundreds of different types of studies proving that smoking is a major health hazard. The N.I.D.A. has estimated that smoking is the cause of death for roughly three hundred and fifty thousand people in the U.S. every year. The U.S. Surgeon General has claimed that smoking is “The chief preventable cause of death in our society.” Smoking can cause many different severe health problems. One of the most well known effects of smoking is lung cancer. Your risk of having lung cancer increases approximately fifty to one hundred percent for every cigarette you smoke. Imagine the damage you’re doing to people around you considering the smoke they are breathing in isn’t filtered at all! Smoking causes your lungs to have extra mucus inside them therefore making you more susceptible to colds, flu, bronchitis and many other respiratory infections. When you do come down with an infection, your body will be less efficient in fighting it due to smoking decreases your white blood cells’ ability to confront the invading organisms.
Many of the compounds that you take in settle as a sticky layer of tar on the lining of your throat, bronchi and in the fragile air sacs of your lungs. Each year, a person who smokes a pack a day soaks their lungs in about eight ounces of tar. Not only is this tar abundant in cancerous chemicals, but it also contains a radioactive chemical called poliniumm 210. Over time, the continued deposits of tar force the body to create a tumor around the infected area which generates lung cancer.
Another severe medical problem that smoking causes but isn’t as well known is coronary artery disease. In the U.S., around twenty percent of all deaths from heart disease are related to cigarette smoking! The nicotine inside cigarettes is what causes heart disease. It decreases oxygen in the heart, increases blood pressure and heart rate, and increases blood clots. Pack a day smokers are twice more likely to have a heart attack than non-smokers. Also, due to the effects of nicotine and other components of tobacco your heartbeat will become irregular. Irregular heartbeat can lead up to cardiac arrhythmia, and a variety of serious coronary conditions including heart attack. According to a recent Surgeon general’s report, about one hundred and seventy thousand heart attacks per year are caused by smoking. Smoking can increase your blood pressure ten to fifteen percent, putting pressure on your heart and blood vessels which can contribute to heart attack and stroke. In some cases smoking can lead to vascular diseases, which in a severe case amputation may be necessary. Are all these extremely possible risks to your health worth the few benefits from smoking?
If you are willing to risk your own health, aren’t you concerned about your friends and family? When you smoke you have the capability to not only damage yourself, but hurt others around you. Secondhand smoke contains thousands of chemicals which are toxic or can cause cancer. The smoke that people inhale around you has a much higher concentration of carcinogens and is smaller particles which are absorbed easier into your cells. There are around 46,000 deaths from heart disease due to second hand smoke every year. There are also 50,000 to 300,000 cases of pneumonia and bronchitis related to second hand smoking. Not only that, but it also causes premature deaths in those who do not smoke. Is the contamination cigarettes cause you, your family, and your friends worth the “benefits” you receive from smoking?
The few health benefits that smoking cigarettes does have in some cases, are far overshadowed by the other dire effects that the drug causes. According to an article published in 1995 in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, nicotine found in cigarettes reduces psychiatric, cognitive, sensory, and physical effects of schizophrenia, and also provides relief of common side effects from antipsychotic drugs. Other people may have weight loss or a decrease in appetite after starting to smoke. However, this is highly unadvised as to the negative effects of tobacco and obesity tends to combine and create interrelated problems. One of the most common “benefits” that people say they receive from smoking is that it relaxes and calms them down. "I can't quit, I'm too stressed out." This is one of the most common excuses used by smokers every day. Another more common benefit people say is the reason why they smoke is because it helps them concentrate and dismiss distractions better. These are all relatable reasons as to why smoking is attractive. We all would like to lose a little weight, or be less stressed or be able concentrate on things better. However, are most of these “benefits” really aiding you or are they just handicapping your true ability?
Essentially, cigarette commercials tell you that cigarettes can relax you, make you more alert, get rid of stress or almost anything. It just depends on the circumstances that you live in. Albeit the nicotine that is released into your system, the other compounds in the cigarette create the symptoms you were trying to get rid of when you began smoking! These substances make you become more anxious, tense, stressed and on edge due to the huge strain it puts on your body. When carbon monoxide and nicotine invade your body, they decrease the supply and amount of oxygen that travels to your brain, therefore your brain strains to function properly, think clear and concentrate. You think nicotine helps with your stress? It does the exact opposite; the effects nicotine has on the insulin in your blood puts your body through constant stress. The reason why you believe smoking helps to relieve stress, calm you down, or help you concentrate is because YOU BELIEVE. Because you believe it does all these things, your body thinks it does. This is called the placebo effect, but this alone could not convince you that it is really doing all these things. When you smoke, you breathe in deeply and exhale deeply right? Breathing in deeply and exhaling deeply when you smoke is just a deep breathing exercise! As you know, when you take deep breaths you are providing your body with a lot more oxygen which relieves you of stress, clears your mind and relaxes you to a point. So instead of smoking a cigarette just sit down and take deep breathes, it will do the same thing for you. It is all in your mind; it is merely a physiological effect. If you would like to lose weight, just eat healthier meals and in smaller portions. It’s just that easy. If you already smoke, there are many ways that you can quit.
Yes, quitting smoking seems hard because it is both a physiological habit and a physical addiction. You will need to break both of these if you want to succeed in quitting. There are many ways you can go about quitting smoking. Quitting cold turkey is quitting without any outside help such as aids, therapy and medicine. This is not the most successful way, even though ninety percent of smokers try this method. Only ten percent succeed on their first try when they try to quit cold turkey. Another method is called behavioral therapy. This method is where you go to a therapist who can help you find the best way for you to quit. Your therapist will help you identify your triggers, figure out ways to effectively get through cravings and most importantly give you the emotional support to get through it all. You’re fifty to one hundred percent more likely to quit if you use nicotine replacement therapy, or NRTs. NRTs may include nicotine patches, gum, lozenges and inhalers. If you are under eighteen, then you need to talk to your doctor before trying any NRTs. This method is best combined with behavioral therapy and lots of support from family and friends. Another way is for your doctor to prescribe you medicines such as Zyban and Chantix. These drugs are specifically formulated to help smokers quit. If you use a combination of these methods, it will greatly increase your chances of quitting. An example would be using nicotine gum and the patch. Other combinations include a medical prescription and the patch, behavioral therapy and the patch and the nicotine inhaler and the patch. There are also many websites online that may help you quit too. Websites such as www.smokefree.gov, www.quitnet.com, www.becomeanex.org and www.quit4good.com are online sources to help you quit. These are all great ways to quit, and if you relapse don’t give up! Sometimes it takes a couple of tries for you to quit but you can do it.
Instead of smoking, there are many other activities you can engage in. Activities such a taking a nap, taking a nice long, hot shower, soaking in a bath tub, listening to your favorite album, taking the time to cook your favorite recipe or reading a book. These are all relaxing ways to occupy extra time. If you want to be a little less relaxed and a little more active, other pastimes could be taking a walk, riding your bike around your neighborhood, playing fetch with your dog, talking to your friends, going to a movie or dancing around to music. These are all great ideas that can occupy your time, relax you and get your mind off of things.
Why smoke when you can live happy AND healthy? Problems such as heart disease, lung cancer and stroke will happen to you. You increase your chances of these problems every time you smoke a cigarette. With an average of ten years off your life, would you risk not seeing your children get married? To see your grandchildren be born? Do you want to live life as you get older in an everyday struggle to breathe? Are the benefits you receive from smoking worth risking your future? Quit now, quit today. Do not procrastinate, go through with quitting. Get help, your decision will be supported by your friends and family. Smoking is a serious health hazard but the effects of it aren’t immediate. They are inevitable though, and you will not escape unharmed.