Tobacco Health Hazard Alert: What you must know

There are lots of dangers posed by unhealthy consumption of tobacco. Around the globe there has been a rise in tobacco related deaths (especially tobacco smokers), and sometimes even non-users

Tobacco has been with us for a long time and has become widely used for recreational purposes. Tobacco is not an illegal substance in many countries of the world hence its quite accessible.

Recognised tobacco products include
cigars, little cigars, dissolvable products such as coffee electronic cigarettes (traditional smokeless tobacco products, water pipes and snuff (especially In Africa)

Some reasons people find tobacco use beneficial include;
– The momentary gratification
– The social bonding with other smokers
– Its use for recreation and relaxation
– The feeling of creating a ritual.

These so-called benefits however have made it almost impossible for chronic smokers to quit, as tobacco contains addictive substances.

HAZARDS OF TOBACCO AND TOBACCO PRODUCTS CONSUMPTION
Tobacco smoking (either cigarettes, pipes and cigars) happens to be the most common way tobacco is consumed. There are no safe substances in any tobacco products, from acetone and tar to nicotine and carbon monoxide. The substances inhaled don’t just affect the lungs. They can affect the entire body

CANCER
Cigarettes contain about 600 ingredients, many of which can also be found in cigars and hookahs. When these ingredients burn, they generate more than 7,000 chemicals, according to the American Lung Association. Many of those chemicals are poisonous and at least 69 of them are linked to cancer especially lung cancer.
Smoking increases the risk of mouth, throat, larynx, and oesophagus cancers. Smokers also have higher rates of pancreatic cancer. Even people who smoke but dont inhale face an increased risk of mouth cancer.

THE BRAIN
One of the ingredients in tobacco is a mood-altering drug called nicotine. Nicotine reaches the brain in just mere seconds and makes one feel more energized for a while. But as that effect wears off, the individual feel tired and crave more. Nicotine is extremely habit-forming, which is why people find smoking so difficult to quit.
Physical withdrawal from nicotine can impair one’s cognitive functioning and make one feel anxious, irritated, and depressed. Withdrawal can also cause headaches and sleep problems.

RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
When an individual inhales smoke, he inhales substances and chemicals that can damage the lungs. Over time, this damage leads to a variety of problems. Along with increased infections, people who smoke are at higher risk for chronic irreversible lung conditions such as:
Emphysema: the destruction of the air sacs in the lungs
Chronic bronchitis: permanent inflammation that affects the lining of the breathing tubes of the lungs
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): a group of lung diseases
Children whose parents smoke are more prone to coughing, wheezing, and asthma attacks than children whose parents dont. They also tend to have higher rates of pneumonia and bronchitis.

SKIN, HAIR AND NAILS
The more obvious signs of smoking involve skin changes. Substances in tobacco smoke change the structure of the skin. A recent study has shown that smoking dramatically increases the risk of squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer).
The fingernails and toenails aren’t immune from the effects of smoking. Smoking increases the likelihood of fungal nail infections.
Hair is also affected by nicotine, an older study found it increases hair loss, balding, and greying.

CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM
Smoking can cause damages to the entire cardiovascular system. Nicotine causes blood vessels to tighten, which restricts the flow of blood. Over time, the ongoing narrowing, along with damage to the blood vessels, can cause peripheral artery disease and can worsen hypertension.
Smoking also raises blood pressure, weakens blood vessel walls, and increases blood clots. Together, this raises one’s risk of stroke.
Smoking not only impacts the smoker’s cardiovascular health, but also the health of those around the smoker who don’t smoke. Exposure to second-hand smoke carries the same risk to a non-smoker as someone who does smoke. Risks include stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.

DIABETES
Smoking also influences insulin, making it more likely that one will develop insulin resistance. That puts one at increased risk of type 2 diabetes and its complications, which tend to develop at a faster rate than in people who dont smoke.

SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM.
Nicotine affects blood flow to the genital areas of both men and women. For men, this can decrease sexual performance. For women, this can result in sexual dissatisfaction by decreasing lubrication and the ability to reach orgasm. Smoking may also lower sex hormone levels in both men and women. This can possibly lead to decreased sexual desire.

TOBACCO ADDICTION
An addiction may be present if the person cannot stop smoking or chewing despite attempts to quit due to withdrawal symptoms such as shaky hands, sweating, irritability, or rapid heart rate or must smoke or chew after every meal or after long periods of time without using such as after a movie or work meeting and regularly needs tobacco products to feel normal.

TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR HANDLING A TOBACCO ADDICTION

1. Seeking help and counsel
2. Therapy includes the nicotine patch, other medications etc.
Psychological treatments such as
hypnotherapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy and neuro-linguistic programming

These methods help the user change their thoughts about addiction. They work to alter feelings or behaviours that the brain associates with tobacco use.
Treatment for a tobacco addition requires a combination of methods. There is no one size fits all approach.

A CALL TO ACTION
The recent increase in the death toll following the consumption of Tobacco and Tobacco products, is a call to everyone to begin to take caution.

In conclusion, tobacco related deaths will continue to climb if nothing is done, some persons may present what seems like a reasonable argument that people who smoke still manage to live long, however this argument has failed to point out the very much decreased quality of life of the few who manage to live beyond 60 years of age.

Government policies must seek to protect the citizens especially the youth from industry manipulation and develop more effective smoking cessation programs as part of public health interventions.

Pharm. Ucheaga James Chinedum