Published: 23rd July 2007
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Statutory Warning : Cigarette smoking is injurious to health

Tobacco is deadly in any form. According to WHO report, nearly 10,000 people die everyday across the world due to smoking related diseases. Smokers comprise 1.5 billion or one-fifth of the humanity. The life expectancy of a smoker reduces by 6.6 years and even non-smokers are threatened, facing exposure to the 'environmental tobacco smoke' produced by smokers.

The major ill effect of tobacco was reported first by the Director General of Health, U.S.A. way back in 1945. Ever since, there are more than 100 scientifically proven articles that clearly suggest smoking is injurious to health. Smoking is the major cause of mortality with bronchogenic carcinoma of the lung and one of the factors causing death due to malignancies of larynx, oral cavity, ocsophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, stomach and uterine cervix and coronary heart diseases.

Cigarettes can act as an agent quickly delivering the naturally occurring alkaloid nicotine to the body. A typical smoker will take 10 puffs of a cigarette and if such person smokes 10 to 15 cigarettes a day and it will send approximately 1 mg per cigarette of nicotine daily to the brain. Nicotine is the major substance present in the smoke that causes physical dependence.

The principal ingredients consumed during smoking of tobacco include nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide. It causes an increased risk of cardiovascular disease such as coronary heart disease and stroke, lung and other forms of cancer and respiratory diseases such as chronic bronchitis. Smoking diminishes fertility in women and increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, pre-born birth, pre-clampsia and still birth. The combination of smoking and oral contraceptive is dangerous. The Tar component in cigarettes associated with a proportional increase in lung cancer. It is the stuff that stains fingers and turns teeth yellow.

Levulinic acid, added to cigarettes to mark the harsh taste of the nicotine, can increase the binding of nicotine to brain receptors, which increases the 'kick' of nicotine. Smoke from the burning end of a cigarette contains 4,000 chemicals and 43 carcinogens. It has long been known that tobacco smoke is carcinogenic, or cancer causing.

The lungs of smokers collect an unusual deposit of 1 to ½ pounds of black material. Like many carcinogenic compounds, they can act as tumour promoters or tumour initiators by acting directly on the genetic make up of cells of the body and development of cancer.

A few drops of pure nicotine, weighing around 60 mg, on the tongue can kill a healthy adult. Cigarettes usually contain 0.5 - 2.0 mg of nicotine depending upon the brand. Nicotine dependence is the central factor in the continuation of smoking behaviour.


Anti-cigarette lobbies claim that a cigarette, either as additives or as compounds created while smoking, has nearly 4,000 chemicals. At least 43 of the ingredients are carcinogenic (cancer causing). Here is a sampling of the ingredients/components produced:

- Acetic Acid (corrosive to respiratory tract)

- Acetone (used in nail polish removers)

- Ammonia (used in floor and toilet cleaners)

- Arsenic ( a poison)

- Cadmium (car battery fluid)

- Carbon Monoxide ( interferes with the supply of oxygen in the blood to the rest of the body)

- DDT/dielderon ( insecticides)

- Ethanol ( alcohol)

- Formalin (used in preserving human tissue and fabric)

- Hexamine (used in explosive compounds)

- Hydrogen Cyanide (poison)

- Methane ( petroleum gas)

- Naphthalene (used in moth balls)

- Nicotine (schedule 6 poison)

- Nitro Benzene ( a petrol additive)

- Phenols (used in disinfectants)

- Stearic Acid (used in candle wax)

- Toluene (industrial solvent)

- Vinyl Chloride (used in PVC)


During smoking, within first 8-10 seconds nicotine is absorbed through the lungs and quickly moved into the blood stream and circulated throughout the brain. Nicotine can also enter the blood stream through the mucous membranes that line the mouth (if tobacco chewed) or nose (if snuff is used) and even through the skin.


Nitric Oxide (NO) is a unique molecule which plays a role in number of beneficial and some of the harmful number of beneficial and some of the harmful brain and body mechanisms example synapse formation, drug tolerance and local regulation of cerebral blood flow, Parkinson's disease etc. It is also found people who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day have poorer memories and middle age than non-smokers. Some experts say that smoking is linked to memory problems because it contributes to narrowed arteries that restrict blood flow to the brain. One of the causes of memory decline in relation to the brain function could be the nerve-cell death, or decreased density of interconnected neuronal network due to loss of dendrites, the tine filaments which connect one nerve cell to another. Abstain from smoking is essential not only to avoid this systemic effects but also to reduce the ill effects on the environment.


Cancer is a dreaded disease and sufferings of the patients are enormous. Moreover, it also requires a lot of money to treat it. The only wise way is to prevent its occurrence and it is possible if tobacco usage is stopped. The notable cancers which are caused by tobacco consumption are mouth, throat, voice box, lung, pancreas, urinary bladder, kidney and uterine cervix.

Cancer of mouth and throat : Smoking cigarettes, pipes and cigars is a risk factor for all cancers associated with the larynx, oral cavity and esophagus. Over 90% of the patients with oral cancer use tobacco by either smoking or chewing it. Oral cancer includes cancer of the lips, tongue, mouth and those who smoke pipes or cigars experience a risk similar to that of cigarette smokers.

Lung Cancer : Lung Caner kills more people than any other type of cancer and at least 80% of these deaths are caused by smoking. The risk of lung cancer increases directly with the number of cigarettes smoked. The risk dying from lung cancer increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day.

Breast Cancer : There is growing evidence of a link between both active and passive smoking and breast cancer. Seven of eight published studies examining passive smoking and breast cancer suggest an increased risk of breast cancer.

Cervical Cancer : A study in Sweden found that smoking was the second most significant behavioural/lifestyle factor after Human Papilloma Virus in causing cervical cancer.


The most common form of nicotine replacement medicine is available as flavoured chewing gum or a skin patch. It is used for up to 12 - 20 weeks as a part of supervised step in smoking cessation programme. It is not suitable for use during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Smoking needs to be avoided at the time of taking these medicines as combination may cause overdosing of nicotine. Nicotine skin patches deliver very small, measured and tapering doses of nicotine. Nicotine gum, available in different strengths, delivers nicotine that is absorbed through mucous membrace of the mouth. An anti dressant drug that allays withdrawal symptoms has helped smokers stay of cigarettes.

There are no harmful effects in putting a sudden end to smoking tobacco. The problems caused by stopping tobacco are temporary and will last only 5 to 7 days.

( consult a doctor before you use any of them. Some of these require prescriptions )


- Postpone each cigarette by one hour

- Do not buy in packs

- Do not keep a stock of cigarettes

- Tell your family, friends and colleagues that you are going to quit tobacco and ash trays in your house.

- Make your home and your living environment a tobacco free zone.


- With in one hour - Blood pressure falls and circulation starts improving

- One day - Lungs start to clean out mucus and other derbis

- One week - Bronchial passages relax making breathing easier

- One Month - Circulation improves throughout the whole body

- One Year - Lung function improves 5 to 10 percent

- Ten Years - Risk of lung cancer falls to half that of a smoker and risk of heart attack falls to the same as non smoker


World No Tobacco Day is celebrated around the world every year on May 31. The Member States of the World Health Organisation created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes. In 1987, the World Health Assembly passed Resolution calling for 7th April 1988 to be a " World No-smoking day". In 1988, Resolution WHA 42.19 was passed, calling for the celebration of World No Tobacco Day, every year on 31 May.


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