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Addiction To Smoking Essay Smoke


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When your parents were young, people could buy cigarettes and smoke pretty much anywhere — even in hospitals! Ads for cigarettes were all over the place. Today we're more aware about how bad smoking is for our health. Smoking is restricted or banned in almost all public places and cigarette companies are no longer allowed to advertise on TV, radio, and in many magazines.

Almost everyone knows that smoking causes cancer, emphysema, and heart disease; that it can shorten your life by 10 years or more; and that the habit can cost a smoker thousands of dollars a year. So how come people are still lighting up? The answer, in a word, is addiction.

Once You Start, It's Hard to Stop

Smoking is a hard habit to break because tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive. Like heroin or other addictive drugs, the body and mind quickly become so used to the nicotine in cigarettes that a person needs to have it just to feel normal.

People start smoking for a variety of different reasons. Some think it looks cool. Others start because their family members or friends smoke. Statistics show that about 9 out of 10 tobacco users start before they're 18 years old. Most adults who started smoking in their teens never expected to become addicted. That's why people say it's just so much easier to not start smoking at all.

Hookahs and E-Cigarettes

It's not only cigarettes that get people dependent on tobacco. Hookahs, staples of Middle Eastern café society, are water pipes used to smoke tobacco through a hose with a tapered mouthpiece. There's a myth going around that hookahs are safer because the smoke is cooled when it passes through the water.

But take a look at the black, resinous gunk that builds up in a hookah hose. Some of that gets into users' mouths and lungs. Indeed, experts say hookahs are no safer than cigarettes — and since they don't have filters and people often use them for long periods, the health risks might be even greater. Hookahs are usually shared, so there's the additional risk from germs being passed around along with the pipe.

Also beware of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), which contain cancer-causing chemicals and other toxins, including a compound used in antifreeze. These battery-operated devices use cartridges filled with nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals and convert them into a vapor that's inhaled by the user.

For some time in the US, hookahs and e-cigarettes have not been regulated or studied by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so little has been known about their safety. But as of August 2016, new rules are in place to monitor these products. In the future, hookahs and e-cigarettes that are sold will need to be approved by the FDA, and companies will need to post health warnings so that people know their risks. But one thing is still certain: there's no such thing as a "safe" nicotine product.

How Smoking Affects Your Health

There are no physical reasons to start smoking. The body doesn't need tobacco the way it needs food, water, sleep, and exercise. And many of the chemicals in cigarettes, like nicotine and cyanide, are actually poisons that can kill in high enough doses.

The body is smart. It goes on the defense when it's being poisoned. 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. 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, throat, stomach, and bladder cancer. People who smoke can develop skin problems like psoriasis (a type of rash), and are more likely to get wrinkles. Also, they have an increased risk of infections like bronchitis and pneumonia.

Many of these diseases limit a person's ability to be normally active, and they can be fatal. In the United States, smoking is responsible for about 1 out of 5 deaths.

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. Smokers also tend to be less active than nonsmokers because smoking affects lung power.

Smoking can also cause fertility problems and can impact sexual health in both men and women. Girls who are on the Pill or other hormone-based methods of birth control (like the patch or the ring) increase their risk of serious health problems, such as heart attacks, if they smoke.

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, which means that teen smokers have many of these problems:

  • Bad breath. Cigarettes leave smokers with a condition called halitosis, or persistent bad breath.
  • Bad-smelling clothes and hair. The smell of stale smoke tends to linger — not just on people's clothing, but on their hair, furniture, and cars. And it's often hard to get the smell of smoke out.
  • Reduced athletic performance. People who smoke usually can't compete with nonsmoking peers because the physical effects of smoking (like rapid heartbeat, decreased circulation, and shortness of breath) harm sports performance.
  • Greater risk of injury and slower healing time. Smoking affects the body's ability to produce collagen, so common sports injuries, such as damage to tendons and ligaments, will heal more slowly in smokers than nonsmokers.
  • 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 more sick if they smoke (and often if they're just around people who smoke). Because teens who smoke as a way to manage weight often light up instead of eating, their bodies also lack the nutrients they need to grow, develop, and fight off illness properly.

Kicking Butts and Staying Smoke-Free

All forms of tobacco — cigarettes, pipes, cigars, hookahs, and smokeless tobacco — are health hazards. It doesn't help to substitute products that seem like they're better for you than regular cigarettes, such as e-cigarettes or filtered or low-tar cigarettes.

The only thing that really helps a person avoid the problems associated with smoking is staying smoke-free. This isn't always easy, especially if everyone around you is smoking and offering you cigarettes. It may help to have your reasons for not smoking ready for times you may feel the pressure, such as "I just don't like it" or "I want to stay in shape for soccer" (or football, basketball, or other sport).

The good news for people who don't smoke or who want to quit is that studies show that the number of teens who smoke has dropped dramatically. Today, about 10% of high school students smoke — which means 9 out of 10 don't.

If you do smoke and want to quit, you have lots of information and support available. Different approaches to quitting work for different people. For some, quitting cold turkey is best. Others find that a slower approach is the way to go. Some people find that it helps to go to a support group especially for teens. These are sometimes sponsored by local hospitals or organizations like the American Cancer Society. The Internet offers a number of good resources to help people quit smoking.

When quitting, it can be helpful to realize that the first few days are the hardest. So don't give up. Some people find they have a few relapses before they manage to quit for good.

Staying smoke-free will give you a whole lot more of everything — more energy, better performance, better looks, more money in your pocket, and in the long run, more life to live!

It's not news to anyone that smoking is a health hazard, but many people choose to ignore the danger and continue smoking. Although some smokers are in denial about the risks associated with smoking, the majority of smokers continue because it is difficult to stop. Many smokers are literally addicted to nicotine and find it easier to continue the habit than to try to quit. It is the addictive quality of nicotine that makes stopping smoking so difficult.

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance because of the way it makes us feel, both emotionally and physically, and because the way we obtain nicotine becomes a normal part of our daily lives. When most people think about serious addition, they think of cocaine or heroin addiction, but tobacco is also a highly addictive substance that is hard to eliminate from your life once you've started using it. When a person becomes addicted to smoking, they smoke in order to achieve the physiological (physical) and psychological (mental) satisfaction that smoking provides. Unfortunately, smoking-related satisfaction is very short-lived and new cravings develop quickly. Recognizing the nature of your addiction, including the physical and psychological cravings, can help you to identify and prepare for the difficulties you might face while you are in the process of quitting.

Physiological Effects

The pleasurable consequences of smoking are considerable, and they affect the mind as well as the body. One of the main reasons that people become addicted to nicotine is because it activates the pleasure center of their brain. The average smoker takes about 10 puffs on every cigarette, and nicotine levels in the brain peak within 10 seconds of inhaling. Since the satisfaction one gains from smoking lasts only a few minutes, smokers soon crave another cigarette. If one cigarette supplies approximately 10 surges of nicotine to the brain, smoking 1½ packs of cigarettes a day provides a smoker with approximately 300 nicotine hits.

Some people say that smoking relaxes them while others say that it gives them a boost. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, nicotine does both—it acts as both a stimulant and/or a sedative depending on the dose and the smoker's history of tobacco use. A hit of nicotine stimulates the adrenal glands which cause the release of adrenaline. This adrenaline stimulates the body and causes a release of glucose, as well as an increase in respiration, blood pressure, and heart rate. Nicotine also causes the release of dopamine in the part of the brain that controls pleasure and motivation. A similar effect is caused by cocaine and heroin and is believed to cause the pleasurable sensations reported by many smokers.

Frequent use of tobacco products results in addiction to nicotine, and repeated exposure to nicotine results in the development of tolerance for the drug. As tolerance builds, it takes a higher dose of nicotine to produce the same level of stimulation. A similar reaction takes place in people who consume alcohol—the more often you consume alcohol, the more you need to drink to feel the effects. Nicotine is metabolized rapidly, which means it disappears from the body completely in just a few hours, so smokers need to smoke more and more often to continue to feel the same pleasurable effects.

Addiction to nicotine is the reason many smokers find it difficult to quit. When a smoker tries to quit, he or she often experiences withdrawal symptoms, including depression, irritability, difficulty concentrating or sleeping, headache, and tiredness. Many people find it to be too painful to try to overcome withdrawal symptoms, and choose to face the risks instead of quitting.

Psychological Effects

Psychological factors are often one of the reasons that breaking the nicotine addiction is so difficult. For many smokers, the act of smoking has become such a part of their lives that they feel like they have lost a part of themselves when stop smoking. Psychologically, it is normal to mourn the loss of such a familiar habit. It is also common for people who give up smoking to experience one or more of the common stages of grief (denial, bargaining, anger, sadness, guilt, and acceptance) as they learn to change the way they live. If you find yourself experiencing any one of these emotions, recognize that it is normal and okay, that many people must work through these stages on the path to quitting, and that you, too, can successfully work through each stage.

Behavioral Components

In addition to overcoming the physiological effects of nicotine, smoking cessation is often difficult because you have become so accustomed to the behavioral aspect of smoking. Habitual smokers can identify the places where they usually smoke, or circumstances that make them crave a cigarette. Without even thinking about it, many people reach for a cigarette after finishing a meal, while driving their cars, or when dealing with a stressful situation. In fact, habitual smokers may even feel uncomfortable if they find themselves facing any of these situations without a cigarette.

It is very easy to associate the feel, smell, and sight of a cigarette; the rituals associated with smoking (obtaining the cigarette, handling the cigarette, looking for a lighter and actually lighting the cigarette); and the times and places you smoke with the pleasurable feeling you get from smoking. These connections are formed by a process called classical conditioning, which was discovered by the Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov (of "Pavlov's dog" fame). Pavlov's famous experiment was conducted to see if he could train dogs to salivate when they heard the sound of a bell. At first, Pavlov only rang the bell when he fed the dogs, knowing that salivating while eating is a natural reaction. Soon, he was able to make the dogs salivate just by ringing the bell, even if there was no food present. The dogs had learned that the ringing bell signaled that food would be coming soon; their normal response to food had become transferred to the sound of the bell. Similarly, smokers learn to associate the pleasures of smoking with all of the daily activities they usually perform while smoking. For example, if you smoke while drinking a cup of coffee, the sight and smell of a cup of coffee could trigger the craving for a cigarette or make the craving worse. Since you probably smoke many cigarettes over the course of one day, many such connections are made. If you smoke while driving to work, getting into the car can result in a craving for a cigarette. If you smoke while having a drink after work, then having a drink can make you want a cigarette. You need to identify and plan for all of the places and behaviors you associate with smoking before you will be able to entirely quit using tobacco. Once you've identified your triggers (those people, places and things that trigger your craving for a smoke), you can change your routine and substitute different behaviors, so you can eliminate the connection between the triggers and smoking. In order to be successful, you must learn to deal with physical cravings and you must change your environment or your habits in order to avoid your triggers.

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