What are we led to believe with the advertisements on posters, in the cinema, on television about smoking a cigarette? Adventure, freedom, beauty and youth are the goals that different cigarette companies cleverly link to smoking. Tobacco smoke, however, contains substances that damage organs in our body. Recently, this has even been clearly stated on every pack of cigarettes.
The main harmful substances include u.a. the circulatory toxin nicotine (labeled N on the cigarette pack), the respiratory and carcinogenic tar substances (labeled K for condensate on the pack), and the respiratory toxin carbon monoxide.



Harmfulness of smoking

Smoking has lost its former prestige among many people as a sign of superiority, masculinity, nonchalance, bravado, and adulthood.
Many adolescents even evaluate smoking as a sign of weakness, that one cannot let go of a harmful habit.
Three quarters of all young people do not like smoky air, even if they smoke themselves.
Today, more and more young people as well as adults realize that smoking is harmful to health – both for the smokers themselves and for the non-smokers – who have to inhale the tobacco smoke. You are a passive smoker.
Thus, irritation of the mucous membranes, z.B. Set off burning eyes, coughing, hoarseness, scratchy throat, as well as headaches, breathing difficulties, nausea and bronchitis.
"Smoky air" is especially harmful to pregnant women and children.

Today, there are a large number of legal regulations for the protection of non-smokers .
Smoking is restricted in more and more areas of daily life (see text, below).

The German Cancer Research Center assumes about 400 cancer deaths in Germany per year due to passive smoking. Studies from which this figure can be calculated have been carried out on non-smoking family members of smokers, for example. Tobacco and smoke degradation products in the body show that they are actually smoking. In unborn and newborn babies of smokers, corresponding metabolic products are already found in the very first urine, which is formed before birth.

These study results also make the efforts of many countries to ban smoking, at least in public places, understandable.

As early as 1985, the Senate Commission of the German Research Foundation for the Examination of Harmful Working Substances therefore included passive smoking in the workplace in its document "Maximum Workplace Concentrations and Tolerance Values for Working Substances" (the so-called MAK list). Today, passive smoking is considered to be clearly carcinogenic in this basic list for assessing a possible occupational hazard.

The non-smokers are protected more than before, z.B.:

  • In all public places (z.B. city halls, savings banks, banks, post offices) there is a ban on smoking.
  • In canteens, restaurants and break rooms, non-smokers are given more and more seats.
  • In public transportation (z.B. smoking is not allowed in streetcars, buses, subways).
  • The federal railroad only uses non-smoking compartments. Train stations have been declared non-smoking areas.
  • Smoking is no longer permitted on any route during the flight.
  • Most cab drivers have declared their car a non-smoking cab.

Smoking harms various organs in our body, z.B. the stomach and heart, skin and lungs.
Smoking is particularly dangerous for expectant mothers, as harmful substances enter the developing child with the blood. Child growth and development are impaired.

Tobacco smoke contains many harmful substances. Main pollutants are nicotine, tar substances and carbon monoxide.
Nicotine is a nerve and blood vessel poison. If it enters the alveoli with the inhaled air, it immediately passes into the blood and is distributed throughout the body with the blood. It causes numerous diseases. Important organ damage is a constriction of blood vessels, thus disturbing blood circulation and increasing blood pressure. This in turn can lead to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes, as well as smoker’s leg, bronchitis and lung cancer.

Tar substances are contained in tobacco smoke as very fine particles. With the inhaled smoke they reach the respiratory organs. The tars settle in the trachea and bronchial tubes and inhibit the beating of the cilia. As a result, the inhaled pathogens and dust particles are no longer transported to the outside of the body. Inflammation occurs, z.B. Bronchitis, and to the smoker’s cough.
In the alveoli, the deposited tar substances prevent the gas exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
This both impairs breathing and promotes the development of lung cancer.

Tobacco smoke contains a colorless, toxic gas called carbon monoxide . This toxic gas enters the blood through the alveoli of the lungs. It is absorbed by the blood instead of oxygen and transported into the body. This means that the body receives less oxygen. The lack of oxygen can u.a. cause heart attacks and circulatory problems in the fingers and toes (e.g., heart disease).B. smoker’s leg), but also lead to symptoms of fatigue and poor concentration.

Organ damage when nicotine is abused

By a simple experiment one can prove the component tar of the tobacco smoke. Tobacco smoke also contains carbon dioxide. Lime water is used as a detection agent for this.
A cigarette is fixed in a glass tube with a stopper. The glass tube contains absorbent cotton. At the other end of the glass tube, a piece of tubing is used to attach a wash bottle containing colorless lime water. This in turn is connected to a water jet pump via a piece of tubing.
The cigarette is lit. The smoke is then sucked through the apparatus for a few minutes using a water jet pump. Changes can be observed in the absorbent cotton, the cigarette and the lime water.

risks of smoking (Source: Cancer Information Service KID,German Cancer Research Center, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany)

Worldwide, about 25-30% of all cancer cases resulting in death are due to smoking. The relationship between smoking and Lung cancer is particularly striking, but it is now proven beyond doubt that smoking also plays a role in the development of Larynx-, Oral cavities-, Stomach– and Esophageal cancer plays an essential role. Smokers also have an increased risk for Blisters– and Pancreatic cancer and probably also for Kidney cancer. Even in cervical cancer of the woman the pollutants from the cigarette smoke are involved apart from viruses in the emergence. There is also discussion of a connection between tobacco consumption and Leukemia and with colon cancer. However, this is not yet proven. Not to be forgotten, in addition to the risk of cancer, is the danger to the heart, vascular system, and lungs.

What is the overall risk of dying from smoking??

Of teenagers who start smoking and do not try to quit soon, a quarter will die at age 35-69, and another quarter at about age 70 from the direct consequences of tobacco use. The amount of cigarettes smoked per day plays a less important role over the years. The decisive factor is rather the total duration. Compared to non-smokers, smokers lose up to 25 years of their life expectancy. If you stop smoking, you can at least partially reverse this development. The sooner this is done, the more the risk will equalize with that of a non-smoker after several years or decades.

What is actually so dangerous about smoking, the nicotine or the tar??

Nicotine is only one of several thousand substances contained in tobacco smoke. This substance, with its stimulating and at the same time calming effect on the nervous system, is responsible for the addictive effect of smoking. In higher doses nicotine is considered toxic. For a small child already a chewed cigarette can be deadly. However, other substances are predominantly directly carcinogenic. This is why nicotine patches and nicotine gums have even been approved in Germany without prescription as medicines for smoking cessation. Smoke, tar or condensate pose entirely different dangers:
What a smoker inhales or blows out and what glows in the ashtray is only comparable to a certain extent in its composition to smoke that is produced when burning wood, coal or oil. All of them have in common carcinogenic products of incomplete combustion of the type of the so-called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are formed in varying amounts depending on temperature and other factors. The most important other carcinogenic substances in tobacco smoke that have been detected or are strongly suspected so far are Nitrosamines, some metals or metal salts, z.B. Nickel or cadmium.

Is the change to light cigarettes of any use?

Probably not. Levels of nicotine and condensate from finished cigarettes are detected with smoking machines. However, the individual smoker has his or her individual habits regarding inhalation and the amount of lung puffs from a single cigarette. Many studies have shown that most "switchers" to light cigarettes simply inhale more deeply and take more drags on a cigarette to get the same amount of nicotine as with their usual brand. Thus, they enormously increase the intake of corresponding pollutants. Only the consistent cessation of smoking reduces the risk of developing cancer through tobacco consumption.

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