Smoking as a habit is all pervasive. There is no country in the world today where smoking is not practiced. While it is true that smoking, as a habit, is in serious decline in the developed world it is also true that smoking rates are steadily rising in countries which are considered to be in development. Tobacco companies are in retreat in many countries due to restrictive tobacco sales and advertising legislation. Better education and health promotion are also taking a steady toll of tobacco sales; high tobacco taxes and social stigma have also played their part. But as one door closes another opens. Tobacco companies, to remain viable, have expanded operations in regions which have less stringent tobacco regulation and legislation. With this in mind I thought I looked at some facts of smoking. While some of these facts are widely known, others are less so. I hope my readers find them interesting and extremely thought provoking.
Facts of Smoking- The Cost
Half of all long time users of tobacco will be killed as a direct consequence of their habit. It is estimated that 400,000 smokers will die prematurely due to a smoking related disease in the United States annually. This equates to one in six Americans alive today will absolutely be killed by tobacco. Few doubted that tobacco consumption is the most significant preventable cause of early death in the world. Money spent in the US to shore up the health of those afflicted by smoking is about $ 150 billion dollars per year. If you think these statistics are bad then the facts of smoking emanating from China are truly staggering. In a country of 350 million smokers and where 70% of men smoke, lung cancer is king. An estimated one million people die in China from smoking related disorders every year.
Facts of Smoking- Nicotine
Nicotine is the addictive chemical present in tobacco. Few know that it is also a highly toxic chemical. Molecule for molecule it is more toxic than cyanide and arsenic. It takes only 60mg of nicotine, or the amount present in a pack and half of cigarettes, to kill a grown man. This amounts to 3 drops of pure nicotine. The average smoker inhales about 1mg of nicotine with every cigarette.
Facts of Smoking- The Death Toll
Five trillion cigarettes are purchased ever year. This equates to 15 billion cigarettes every day. All these cigarettes are consumed by the world's one billion smokers. Of the one billion smokers worldwide six million will die this year by diseases caused by their smoking habit and if the present rate of smoking continues one billion people will be killed by the end of the 21st century; the majority of these deaths will occur in the developing world.
Facts of Smoking- Second Hand Smoke
Second hand, or side stream smoke, is the smoke present in the environment from the smouldering cigarette tip and from the smoke exhaled from the smoker's lungs. Although the chemical composition differs between the two types of smoke, they are both considered to be hazardous to health. It is estimated that 46,000 deaths a year are due to heart disease as a consequence of non-smokers being exposed to second hand smoke in the US alone. Cancer deaths in non-smokers are thought to be in the region of 3,400 annually. Up to 40% of children are exposed to second hand smoke in the home. The effect of toxic smoke on vulnerable and developing children is significant. Second hand smoke has been recognized as a causal factor in asthma, respiratory and ear infections. Ten percent of the economic cost caused by smoking has been linked to second hand smoking. The perceived health hazards of second hand smoke have been the impetus for smoking bans in the work place, restaurants, bars and other public places. Many western countries are expanding the ban to include municipal areas and parks.
Facts of Smoking- Third Hand Smoke
Third hand smoke describes the residual contamination left behind after a cigarette is put out. The poisonous chemicals in smoke became attached to the surroundings, lingering in clothes, curtains and furniture. These poisonous compounds may accumulate in an area over time. Currently, scientific opinion is divided over whether third hand smoke represents a health hazard at all and further research is justified to look for possible health risks.
Facts of Smoking- Conclusion
The facts presented in this article are a sobering look into the world of tobacco use. No doubt human kind will continue to use tobacco into the foreseeable future; I suspect we will never be free from its affliction. Addictive drugs will always be with us and tobacco, I am sure, will prove to be no exception.