According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 34 million Americans still smoke cigarettes but on November 21 you can start the journey to better health by participating in the Great American Smoke Out challenge. Vice President and chief medical officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, Dr. Eugene Sun provides information on the hazards of smoking as wells as how to take the first step to quit.
Dr. Sun explains that smoking remains to be the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Besides the nicotine in cigarettes, there are other chemicals found in cigarette smoke including ashes, tar, gases, and other toxins.
Smoking is life-threatening because you are much more likely to get diseases including cancers of the lung, kidney, stomach, colon, rectum, bladder, esophagus, mouth, and throat. It also can cause heart disease, strokes, and coronary heart disease.
E-cigarettes, which includes devices such as vapes, e-hookahs, and electronic nicotine delivery systems, are considered by the American Lung Association to be highly addictive. Some of the pods available for e-cigarettes can contain as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes in addition to other toxins and cancer-causing substances like formaldehyde and acrolein which cause irreversible lung damage.
There is currently not much information known about the long-term health effects of using e-cigarettes however, there have been numerous national reports of serious and sometimes fatal lung issues experienced by those who vape or also use e-cigarettes. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017, 3% of adults used e-cigarettes.
In 2018, more than 3.6 million middle school and high school students had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.
Quitting smoking lowers your risk of diabetes, allows blood vessels to work betters and helps your heart and lungs. The life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than those on nonsmokers.
To stop smoking it is first recommended to make a commitment to stop and to have a plan. This can mean planning to quit cold turkey or through additional means such as behavioral therapy or nicotine replacement therapy or a combination of these.
For more information on how to quit smoking, visit the American Cancer Society’s website.