When you hold a cigarette in your hand, what do you see? A neatly rolled joint of tobacco wrapped in white with a brown filter. It looks harmless, and smoking it is easy. Just light the tip, inhale the smoke, and then exhale. The entire process gives an impression of being ‘cool’.
What you don’t see is the caustic chemical concoction that is the real cigarette. What if we were to tell you that there are 600 ingredients, mainly chemicals, that make the shiny white tobacco stick you hold between your fingers. When lit, the ingredients combine to create a further 7,000 chemicals. It gets even better.
Nearly 70 chemicals created during the smoking process are cancerous. And the rest are poisonous as well, causing serious health risks.
Here is another fact for you: Imagine the lungs of a regular smoker to be a sponge. If squeezed, black tar would drip out of it. That is what happens to our respiratory chambers when we fill them with cigarette smoke.
Do you still want to smoke?
The Wrong Picture
Cigarettes were seen as a cool thing to do way back in the black and white era. Think ‘Humphrey Bogart’ as he posed with the short white stick between his fingers, looking all suave and stylish. Then you had James Dean and his aura of nonchalance with a cigarette butt dangling from his lips.
There was, and probably still remains, a visual aesthetic that a smoker conveys on screen. This has influenced many a young adult to reach out for a cigarette, sometimes even before the legal age. When we see our heroes smoke on screen and look all confident and suave, we want to imitate them too.
Cut to the present, and scientific studies have established how smoking can literally kill you, or at least, destroy parts of your lungs.
What ‘looks’ good may not necessarily ‘be’ good for you. It is time we addressed the wrong picture and set it right.
Anatomy of a Cigarette
Here is a quick snapshot of the some of the harmful chemicals that make up your cigarette. Next time you take a puff, remember that you are inhaling these ingredients:
- Arsenic – When a chemical is used to kill a rodent, you know that it cannot be good for you. And yet, arsenic is a part of the chemical cocktail present in a cigarette. This chemical is one of the most poisonous substances known to us.
- Acetic Acid – The fact that it is an acid should warn you about its corrosive nature. The chemical is primarily used by industries that manufacture synthetic fibres and polymeric materials. Think cola bottles, photographic film, and wood glue. It is also a common ingredient found in hair dye. The corrosive acid can eat away at your lungs when you smoke regularly.
- Cadmium – This is a chemical that’s used in nuclear reactors to control nuclear fission. Would you really want to even be near such an element? Still, cigarette manufacturers have made this an active ingredient of their life-threatening and addictive products. Consider this, cadmium is one of the main components in battery acid.
- Carbon Monoxide – Perhaps one of the most common poisons known to us. This chemical has, in fact, become a part of our daily lives in the form of the exhaust fumes that belch out of our cars. Carbon Monoxide has also a played a starring role in the global warming narrative. You can find this element tucked away in a quiet corner of your cigarette.
- Naphthalene – Used in the form of mothballs to keep pesky insects away, the same element is a part of the chemical mix that makes up a cigarette.
Why Stop Smoking
Remember your first puff? There is a good chance that you coughed out the smoke and your throat felt sore. That first puff tells you the entire story on why you should quit smoking. The body rejects anything that is harmful to it, and a cigarette is one of them. Your very first instinct when your lungs inhale that poisonous smoke is the right one. All you need to do is trust it.
One of the biggest reasons to quit smoking is your family and friends. When you light up a cigarette, you are causing serious harm to them as well. Because of second-hand smoking, they
too are at risk of various heart and respiratory problems. Think about it, do you really want to be the source of their health problems?
The other, and perhaps most important, reason is you.
Smoking is comparable to slow suicide. The number of health problems that you will fall victim to is reason enough to quit. People who do quit end up with a lower percentage risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention cancer, which is truly the emperor of all maladies.
So, kick the butt, and kiss all harmful health problems good bye!