Tobacco is utilized in several forms, none beneficial to health. Various types of tobacco include cigarettes, cigars, hookahs, and smokeless tobacco, such as chew. All forms include nicotine, an addictive compound that fuels cravings, as well as carcinogens, heavy metals and nitrates, all of which increase the risk of disease. Avoiding secondhand smoke, which contains over 7,000 toxic chemicals, is also essential. Even minimal exposure to cigarette emissions can damage blood vessels and inhibit lung capacity in infants and children.
Tobacco use is the most significant cause of preventable illness and death in the United States. Over 16 million Americans are diagnosed yearly with a smoking-related disease, causing over 480,000 deaths annually. Worldwide, tobacco-related deaths have reached over eight million cases per year. Unfortunately, much of this begins in youth, with roughly 1,600 adolescents trying cigarettes daily.
Tobacco use is detrimental to every organ and function in the human body. Smoking can dramatically increase your risk of the following:
- Various cancers (lung, esophagus, cervix, kidney, colon, liver, etc.)
- Cardiovascular disease and stroke
- Respiratory diseases (COPD, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema)
- Poor oral health
- Vision issues (cataracts and age-related macular degeneration)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Fertility issues
- Preterm delivery and stillbirth in pregnant women
The frequent use of cigarettes has produced mortality rates greater than deaths from alcohol and illegal drug use, motor vehicle accidents, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Get Help - Valuable Resources
Whether you’re reducing your intake or quitting entirely, numerous resources are available to aid your journey. Speaking with your healthcare provider is a powerful first step. They can direct you to counseling resources and help you cope with withdrawal symptoms through medication or nicotine-replacement therapy. You also can utilize telephone quitlines, mobile apps such as quitSTART, and free online resources that offer a plethora of tips and tools to support your progress.
Understanding the consequences of tobacco use and utilizing the proper resources are essential to quit over time. Even reducing tobacco use can gradually improve your health and well-being regardless of your preferred route. Your heart rate can lower just minutes after quitting!