Dr. Chow Sze Loon
Occupational Health & Preventive Medicine
Article Published On
Estimated Reading Time
3 minutes read

1. Health Risks: Smoking is associated with numerous health risks, as highlighted by WHO. For instance, smoking is a leading cause of cancer, with tobacco smoke containing over 7000 chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic. Lung cancer is the most commonly associated cancer with smoking, but it's not the only one; smoking is also linked to cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, colon, rectum, bladder, cervix, and more. Moreover, smoking significantly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke due to the harmful effects of tobacco smoke on blood vessels, leading to atherosclerosis and increased clotting. Respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and chronic bronchitis are also strongly associated with smoking.

2. Financial Burden: Smoking is not only detrimental to health but also to one's finances. The cost of smoking adds up significantly over time, including the expenses related to purchasing cigarettes, healthcare costs for treating smoking-related illnesses, and potential lost income due to decreased productivity or missed work days.

3. Second-hand Smoke: Second-hand smoke is the smoke exhaled by a smoker or given off by a burning cigarette, pipe, or cigar. It contains many of the same harmful chemicals as firsthand smoke and can cause serious health problems in nonsmokers, including lung cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis. Children exposed to second-hand smoke are particularly vulnerable and may experience more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

4. Impact on Fitness and Performance: Smoking impairs lung function and reduces overall physical fitness and athletic performance. The harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, such as carbon monoxide, reduce the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to muscles and tissues, leading to decreased endurance, strength, and stamina. Smokers may find it harder to breathe during physical activity, limiting their ability to exercise effectively and increasing the risk of fatigue and injury.

5. Aging Effects: Smoking accelerates the aging process, both internally and externally. The toxins in tobacco smoke damage collagen and elastin fibres in the skin, leading to premature wrinkles, sagging skin, and a dull complexion. Smoking also impairs wound healing and increases the risk of skin infections and skin cancer. Internally, smoking accelerates the aging of organs and tissues, contributing to the development of age-related diseases such as osteoporosis and dementia.

6. Fertility and Pregnancy: Smoking can have serious consequences for fertility and pregnancy. In men, smoking can reduce sperm count, motility, and quality, making it harder to conceive. In women, smoking can disrupt hormone levels, interfere with ovulation, and damage reproductive organs, leading to infertility or miscarriage. Pregnant women who smoke are at increased risk of complications such as ectopic pregnancy, preterm birth, low birth weight, and birth defects such as cleft lip and palate.

7. Social Impact: Smoking can have a negative social impact, as it is increasingly viewed as undesirable and socially unacceptable in many communities. Smokers may face discrimination or stigma in social situations, workplaces, and public spaces where smoking is prohibited. In addition, smoking can strain relationships with nonsmoking friends, family members, and romantic partners who may be concerned about the health risks of second-hand smoke exposure.

8. Addiction: Nicotine, the primary psychoactive ingredient in tobacco, is highly addictive. When inhaled through cigarette smoke, nicotine rapidly enters the bloodstream and reaches the brain, where it stimulates the release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters associated with pleasure and reward. Over time, the brain becomes dependent on nicotine to function normally, leading to cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and difficulty quitting. Nicotine addiction can be challenging to overcome without support, but various smoking cessation strategies and resources are available to help individuals quit successfully.

9. Environmental Impact: Cigarette smoking has significant environmental consequences. In addition to air pollution from second-hand smoke, cigarette manufacturing and disposal contribute to deforestation, water pollution, and soil degradation. Cigarette butts, which contain toxic chemicals and non--biodegradable materials, are the most commonly littered item worldwide, posing a threat to wildlife and ecosystems when they are improperly disposed of in the environment.

10. Benefits of Quitting: Despite the challenges of quitting smoking, the benefits of doing so are numerous and substantial. Within minutes to hours of quitting, blood pressure and heart rate decrease, and carbon monoxide levels in the blood drop to normal. Within days to weeks, lung function improves, circulation improves, and the risk of heart attack and stroke begins to decline. Within months to years, the risk of cancer, respiratory diseases, and other smoking-related illnesses continues to decrease, and overall health and quality of life improve. By quitting smoking, individuals can add years to their life expectancy, save money, and enjoy a healthier, smoke-free future.

Adventist Lifestyle Centre
Penang Adventist Hospital
April 2024



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