TIME TO STOP SMOKING!
BY LAHIRU PEIRIS, PRE-INTERN MEDICAL DOCTOR AT DURDANS HOSPITAL
Thankfully, the Sri Lankan Government managed to put a ban on cigarette promoting advertisements on television. From light, hand-rolled, menthol, or herbal cigarettes to the more advanced devices like e -cigarettes, cigarettes are easily purchased in any part of the world, with their fancy names and eﬀects easily manipulating the growing minds of the youth. Still, there is no available research to prove how those diﬀerent types of cigarettes are “healthy” for bodies and they have similar eﬀects compared to normal packed cigarettes.
Teen tobacco smoking is one of the most common community health problems in Sri Lanka and the entire world. According to research, most smokers start to smoke when they are 18 years old, and it’s extremely difficult to quit smoking as they get older. It is utterly disappointing to see some companies and people still trying to convince us that smoking makes you “cool”, even though everyone knows that smoking is a super unhealthy habit.
• Hand-rolled cigarettes
These types of cigarettes are easier to make but users have a higher risk of getting cancer compared to machine-made, branded ones. Even the herbal cigarettes have their own harmful eﬀects because of the chemicals and toxins involved which are dangerous to your body.
• Menthol cigarettes
Manufacturers have managed to add more flavoured cigarettes onto the counters to attract more customers with their multiple flavours and cooling eﬀects, but they can be more dangerous than unflavoured cigarettes because of the artificial flavours.
Cigars have got more and more tobacco leaves and nicotine in comparison to normal branded cigarettes.
• Clove cigarettes
Originally from Indonesia, clove cigarettes contain cloves and other additives. Some people also name them “trainer cigarettes”. These types of cigarettes can cause extra fluid in the lungs and low oxygen levels.
Most branded companies are trying to advertise e-cigarettes as “safe”, but the high nicotine levels in them can lead to heart and lung diseases.
Types of smokers
• SOCIAL SMOKERS – these are the smokers who smoke only at events and gatherings, maybe with friends at a party or just after a meeting with few colleagues. They are not addicted to smoking, but can face more health problems through smoking and also second-hand smoking.
• ANXIOUS SMOKERS – some people think smoking has its own calming eﬀect, especially when you’re having a stress-related issue or are simply anxious. But research has not yet found evidence for the link between smoking and reduction in anxiety.
• SKINNY SMOKERS – this is more common in women than men and is common during summer when people try to lose a few extra kilogrammes.
• ADDICTED SMOKERS – these smokers have the most dangerous health risks. With one packet today to 10 or more tomorrow, they find it diﬃcult to stay away from smoking. This habit can easily aﬀect not only their physical lives, but also their social and personal lives and finances.
According to the American Lung Association, around 2,500 teens under 18 years try their first-ever cigarette and out of that, more than 400 turn into regular, daily smokers.
From those 400 teens, half of them will die from cancer in the future. If this trend continues, 5.6 million teens will die at a younger age due to smoking-related health problems.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 67% of high school students use flavoured tobacco products.
With regard to e-cigarettes, there’s a huge increase in number from 3.6 million to 5.4 million within one year.
In 2019, 31% of high school students were reported smoking. According to CDC, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the US.
Health-related problems with smoking
• DISEASES AFFECTING BLOOD VESSELS – high risk of having heart attacks and strokes. It can reduce blood circulation to both lungs and skin too
• LUNG DISEASES – the most common lung disease caused by smoking is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). If you’re an asthmatic patient, smoking can aggravate that condition which leads to more serious conditions
• CANCER – tobacco smoking can lead to more than lung cancer; other organs of your body can also be aﬀected, such as the oral cavity, oesophagus, stomach, liver, kidney, and bladder
• PREGNANCY-RELATED ISSUES – smoking can cause early deliveries, low birth weight babies, and even death of babies during pregnancy
• ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION IN MALES
• RELATED TO TYPE 2 DIABETES
• EYE PROBLEMS – such as cataract, glaucoma, and even dry eyes
• RISK OF GUM DISEASES AND REDUCED ORAL HYGIENE
• RISK OF INFECTION AND ASTHMA, AND REDUCATION IN GOOD CHOLESTEROL – due to second-hand smoke
Quitting smoking is a diﬃcult task. I have met a few people in my life who are having diﬃculties in quitting and they have tried diﬀerent techniques but are still smoking daily.
Here are some tips to quit smoking:
1. Have a no-smoke day for yourself
2. Stay busy
3. Drink more water and fruit juice
4. Share your thoughts with friends and family or a therapist
5. Avoid people who are into smoking and stay away from second-hand smoke
6. Practise mental exercises and yoga
7. Try nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). NRT is one of the most common methods to avoid smoking, but make sure to consult a specialist before you start on it
Quitting smoking is a hassle, but it is our responsibility to overcome these issues. As responsible people in the community, it is our duty to explain the eﬀects of smoking to the younger generation rather than encouraging them to smoke more and more.