The Dangers of Cigarette Smoking
Cigarette smoking has been identified as the leading cause of preventable death worldwide (WHO, 2015). Despite the numerous campaigns to create awareness on the dangers of smoking, many people are still addicted to cigarettes. Cigarette smoking addiction is not only harmful to smokers but also to those around them who inhale second-hand smoke. In this essay, we will discuss the effects of cigarette smoking on human health.
2. The effects of cigarette smoking on the human body
Cigarette smoking has diverse effects on different systems in the human body. These effects are caused by the thousands of chemicals found in tobacco smoke, some of which are toxic (US Surgeon General, 2014).
2. 1. Cardiovascular system
Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes (US Surgeon General, 2014). This is because tobacco smoke increases the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood, which leads to atherosclerosis – a condition where arteries are blocked by deposits of fatty substances. Cigarette smoking also damages the lining of arteries and makes blood clot more easily. These clots can block arteries and cause heart attacks or strokes. Moreover, tobacco smoke causes a rise in blood pressure and heart rate, which puts additional strain on the heart.
2. 2. Respiratory system
Cigarette smoking damages nearly every organ in the respiratory system (US Surgeon General, 2014). The cilia – tiny hair-like structures that line the air passages – are destroyed by tobacco smoke, leaving the lungs unprotected against harmful particles such as dust and bacteria. As a result, smokers are more susceptible to respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Cigarette smoking also increases the risk of developing lung cancer, as well as other cancers of the respiratory system such as laryngeal cancer and mesothelioma (a cancer of the linings of the chest and abdomen).
2. 3. Digestive system
Cigarette smoking also has deleterious effects on the digestive system. It increases the risk of developing stomach cancer and ulcers (US Surgeon General, 2014). In addition, smokers are more likely to experience indigestion and heartburn.
2. 4. Nervous system
Smokers are also at increased risk of developing nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (US Surgeon General, 2014). In addition, studies have shown that smokers perform worse than non-smokers on tests of mental function and memory recall.
3. The dangers of smoking during pregnancy
Pregnant women who smoke cigarettes expose their unborn child to a myriad of health risks (US Surgeon General, 2014).
3. 1 Low birth weight
Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy decreases the levels of oxygen and nutrients that reach the fetus, which can lead to low birth weight (AAP & ACOG, 2012). Low birth weight babies are more likely to experience health problems such as respiratory infections and developmental delays (AAP & ACOG, 2012). They are also more likely to die in infancy or childhood than babies who are born at a healthy weight (AAP & ACOG, 2012).
3. 2 Congenital abnormalities
Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy also increases the risk of congenital abnormalities such as heart defects and cleft lip or palate (AAP & ACOG, 2012).
3. 3 Miscarriage and stillbirth
Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarrying or having a stillborn baby (AAP & ACOG, 2012).
4. The financial burden of smoking cigarettes
In addition to the toll smoking cigarettes takes on human health, it also imposes a significant financial burden. Cigarette smoking is estimated to cost the US economy $193 billion each year in direct medical costs and lost productivity (CDC, 2014). In addition, smokers incur higher health insurance premiums than non-smokers (CDC, 2014).
Cigarette smoking is harmful to both smokers and those around them. It causes a myriad of health problems and is a leading cause of preventable death worldwide. Pregnant women who smoke cigarettes expose their unborn child to a host of health risks. In addition to the toll smoking cigarettes takes on human health, it also imposes a significant financial burden.