drug treatment

Still a Big Issue in the United States

Tobacco addiction remains to be the leading cause of death and disease in the United States, accounting for 1 in 5 deaths every year. Once a major cultural norm in the country, tobacco addiction has gradually declined since 1964, but still remains a large issue for the population. Nearly 17 of every 100 US adults aged 18 years or older, or about 16.8% of adults, currently smoke cigarettes, which accounts for an estimated 40 million people.

  • 23%

    of Americans with less than a high school education have some severe tobacco addiction.

  • 50%

    of chronic and long term tobacco users die directly due to smoking, either personally or through second hand.

  • 80%

    of smokers around the globe, live in low to middle income countries, with the exception of some Asian countries.

Thanks to antismoking campaigns and research studies starting in the mid-twentieth century, the numbers for tobacco consumption have drastically decreased as more and more people learn about the consequences for prolonged tobacco addiction and exposure to secondhand smoke. Yet, smoking remains a large problem in youth culture. A recorded 9 out of 10 smokers started before the age of 18—and 98% were smoking by the age of 26. About 1 in 5 teenagers are currently smoking, with approximately 18% of high school students regularly smoking cigarettes.

Rates for people with mental illnesses—such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder—have not seen much of a decline in numbers over the years, with 21.9% of people with a disability or limitation labeled as smokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Anti Smoking campaigns have geared their messages heavily towards white young males, whose rates have severely gone down over time, but it is now necessarily to focus attention towards other groups, such as women (14.8%), non-Hispanic American Indians/Alaska Natives (29.2%), LGBT (23.9%), and people with lower education (43%) and incomes (26.3%). These numbers still account for a quarter of their respective populations in the United States, or in the case of women, have not seen significant change over time in comparison to men.

Diseases Caused By Tobacco Addiction

Autoimmune System

  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Type 2 Diabetes

Smoking compromises the immune system with toxins, preventing it from protecting itself from infection and disease. This subjects the body to several diseases because the autoimmune system can no longer function at its best potential and thus becomes too weak to fight off bacteria, viruses, and cancerous cells. Some common autoimmune diseases that prop up during a smoker’s lifetime can be Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 2 diabetes.

Crohn’s disease is a condition marked by the inflammation of the digestive tract, with many symptoms resulting in flare-ups, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Although the link is not entirely certain, researchers suspect that smoking damages protective mucous membranes in the digestive system, increasing the risk for inflammation. Crohn’s disease is an illness that triggers the body’s immune system to attack itself, so when the smoker voluntarily destroys their system with toxins, they have a tendency to suffer from more flare-ups and null the effects of medications used to treat the disease.

Because smoking damages the autoimmune system so heavily, a person genetically predisposed for rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes can increase their chances of suffering from both diseases from smoking. Tobacco ignites faulty immune functioning, so while certain people may or may not have developed either disease had they been healthy, by smoking their chances multiplied tenfold.

  • Gambling
  • Food addictions
  • Sex
  • Shopping
  • Nicotine
  • Caffeine

Smoking compromises the immune system with toxins, preventing it from protecting itself from infection and disease. This subjects the body to several diseases because the autoimmune system can no longer function at its best potential and thus becomes too weak to fight off bacteria, viruses, and cancerous cells. Some common autoimmune diseases that prop up during a smoker’s lifetime can be Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 2 diabetes.

Crohn’s disease is a condition marked by the inflammation of the digestive tract, with many symptoms resulting in flare-ups, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Although the link is not entirely certain, researchers suspect that smoking damages protective mucous membranes in the digestive system, increasing the risk for inflammation. Crohn’s disease is an illness that triggers the body’s immune system to attack itself, so when the smoker voluntarily destroys their system with toxins, they have a tendency to suffer from more flare-ups and null the effects of medications used to treat the disease.

Because smoking damages the autoimmune system so heavily, a person genetically predisposed for rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes can increase their chances of suffering from both diseases from smoking. Tobacco ignites faulty immune functioning, so while certain people may or may not have developed either disease had they been healthy, by smoking their chances multiplied tenfold.

Currently in the United States, tobacco is the nation’s largest most preventable cause of death and disease according to a 2014 study conducted by the Center for Disease Control.

Heart and Blood

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Aneurysms
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)
  • Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
  • High blood pressure
  • Thickened blood vessels

Chemicals in tobacco smoke harms blood cells and the functions of the heart. It begins with tobacco changing the body’s blood chemistry, which will lead to damaged blood vessels as cells lined within them start reacting to the toxic chemicals. Heart rates and blood pressure go up as blood vessels thicken and narrow. This begins a process known as atherosclerosis, a disease that lets a waxy substance called plaque begin to build up in arteries. When the body begins to block arterial pathways, this poses great risks for a variety of cardiovascular diseases.

Blocked arteries can lead to heart attack, causing severe damage and potentially death if not immediately responded to, as well as Coronary Heart disease (CHD), Peripheral Arterial disease (PAD), and stroke. All of these disease are results of different types of blocks within the blood system. CHD occurs when platelets within the blood stick together with proteins, forming clots that get stuck along the built-up plaque in arteries and which can lead to a heart attack. PAD forms plaque in arteries traveling throughout the body, narrowing the access. Stroke occurs when a blood clot within the system leads to a sudden death of brain cells, which can trigger heart and brain damage simultaneously.

Bones

  • Osteoporosis
  • Bone Loss

There are many factors that increase a person’s risk for osteoporosis, which is a condition in which bones weaken and become more likely to fracture or sprain. Risks vary depending on the person’s weight, their activity level, and substances they consume over time, particularly tobacco. Studies have shown a direct link between tobacco and decreased bone density and bone fracture. About 16 million Americans currently live with osteoporosis as result of smoking.

The link between tobacco and osteoporosis factors in the lifestyles of smokers, who tend to be thinner, drink more alcohol, and less physically active. This is particularly noticeable in women smokers, who tend to have earlier menopauses as a result of not producing enough estrogen due to tobacco consumption. This leads to increased bone loss. Smokers also have a significantly harder time healing from fractures and might take longer to heal or may experience complications during the healing process.

Lungs

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Asthma
  • Tuberculosis

Tobacco is known by most people to have severe consequences on the body’s lungs, as smoke damages breathing and scars lung tissue each time it’s inhaled. Several diseases in the lungs are caused by tobacco smoke and chemicals, and can lead to chronic breathing issues and illnesses as smokers get older. Some common illnesses that result from smoking are: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.

COPD is a breathing condition that worsens over time and causes wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms—all of which can lead to asthma. Smokers who develop asthma are then more likely to suffer severe attacks when around cigarette smoke or if continuing to inhale it and may have to be rushed to the hospital if not treated. Women who smoke are up to 40 times more likely to develop COPD than women who do not smoke. Nearly 8 out of 10 COPD deaths are a result of smoking, with no cure for the disease in sight.

Emphysema is a condition that develops after lung tissue begins to deteriorate and get destroyed, making it difficult to breathe, sometimes impossible. The walls between the air sacs in the lungs lose their ability to stretch and shrink back, which then limits the amount of air a person can inhale or exhale, which is what triggers the struggle to breathe. Chronic bronchitis causes swelling in the lining of the bronchial tubes, limiting air flow within the lungs and thus forcing breathing to become a struggle.

Each time a person smokes, they pose great risks on their lungs, their health, and their ability to breathe comfortably and safely. For youth, smoking slows down lung growth, putting their health at great risk for lung diseases and developing asthma as they enter adulthood. Should a person decide to quit smoking, the effects on the lungs do improve due to not being repeatedly exposed to toxins contained in cigarette smoke, but health restoration may take some time in order to reverse severe effects already made in the body, particularly the respiratory system.

Cancer

  • Lung
  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Oral Cavity (mouth)
  • Pharynx (throat)
  • Larynx (voice box)
  • Trachea
  • Bronchus
  • Lip
  • Tongue
  • Stomach
  • Bladder
  • Cervix
  • Esophagus
  • Kidney
  • Nasopharynx (behind the nose)
  • Pancreas
  • Colon
  • Rectum

There’s a reason people call cigarettes “cancer sticks.” Approximately 7,000 chemicals are contained in cigarette production, and about 70 of them are known to be direct links to causing several different types of cancer within the body. While lung cancer is the most common form of cancer caused by cigarette smoking, there are up to 18 known types of cancer that are a result of tobacco consumption and that affect millions of Americans today. Nearly 9 out of 10 lung cancers are caused by smoking, with today’s cigarettes having more severe consequences than they did in the past. Researchers claim that smokers today are more likely to develop lung cancer than smokers back in 1964, showing the chemical advancement in cigarette production have greatly increased.

According to statistics produced by the Center for Disease Control in 2015, tobacco has been directly linked to over 480,000 deaths yearly, with 41,000 of those from second hand smoke.

Smoking increases the chances of developing several types of lung cancers about 23 times for men and 13 times for women, resulting in 90% of lung cancer deaths due to smoking. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the United States, and can come in various forms within the respiratory system because of the fact that smoking affects the whole body. Inhaling smoke travels through the respiratory system and the digestive system, affecting numerous parts of their respective passageways. From oral cancers to stomach cancers, tobacco damages every aspect of the human anatomy with tissue scarring and chemical changes, leading to the body’s demise.

Chewing Tobacco

There is no such thing as a safe alternative to smoking tobacco, as tobacco addiction comes in many forms. Every tobacco product, including smokeless tobacco, have negative effects to physical health and pose just as great risks for disease, cancer, and death. Among smokeless tobacco users, about 80% pose a higher risk for oral cancer and 60% higher risk for pancreatic and esophageal cancer, among others. Smokeless tobacco products—such as spitting tobacco, dip, chew, snuff, and snus—focus on oral consumption or chewing, which poses a slightly lower risk for respiratory cancers, but immediately causes for greater risks in oral and digestive cancers, affecting various parts of the digestive tract from the chemicals contained in chewing tobacco. In fact, tobacco addiction has been known to worsen already existing cancers.

It is also known that chewing tobacco causes a disease called leukoplakia, which is characterized by white patches and oral lesions in the mouth, such as on the cheeks, gums, and/or tongue. More than half of all users—about 60 to 78 percent—who take part in chewing tobacco develop leukoplakia within the first three years of regular use. These lesions cause irritation in the mucous membranes of the mouth and are noncancerous, but show early signs of developing several types of oral cancers, and which cannot be scraped off.

Higher Risk for Cancer

  • Oral
  • Pancreas
  • Esophageal
  • Pharynx
  • Larynx
  • Stomach

Secondhand Smoking

When someone has a tobacco addiction and smokes, the damaging effects do not only pertain to that person’s body, but everyone around inhaling the smoke as well. About 3,000 nonsmoking people in the United States die of lung cancer caused by exposure to second smoking, and 33,000 nonsmokers die every year from coronary heart disease. Being exposed to secondhand smoking increases nonsmokers’ chances of developing lung cancers and coronary heart disease by up to 30%. This poses a problem for 88 million people in America, who are exposed to secondhand smoking at home and/or work, especially when 54% of those millions are children aged 3-11 and can’t exactly fend for themselves.

About 3,000 nonsmoking people in the United States die of lung cancer caused by exposure to second smoking, and 33,000 nonsmokers die every year from coronary heart disease.

Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke have greater chances of developing breathing issues, ear infections, and respiratory disease. They are more susceptible to developing asthma early in their childhood, suffering from frequent and severe asthma attacks as a result of living with constant smoke at home. Other respiratory problems involve coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and which can lead to lower physical activity due to difficulty breathing. Children who struggle with their respiratory systems are then prone to developing bronchitis and/or pneumonia, which if untreated or not properly cared for, can result in severe sickness and/or death.

Effects of a Tobacco Addiction During Pregnancy

  • Premature birth
  • Miscarriage
  • Placenta issues
  • Low birth weight
  • Stillbirth
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Cleft lip

Having a tobacco addiction during pregnancy can lead to major health problems for the fetus and potentially cause premature birth and/or death for the infant. While most women attempt to quit smoking before or during their pregnancy, according to the Pregnancy Risk Assessment and Monitoring System (PRAMS) data from 2011, there were still approximately 10% of women who reported smoking during the last three months of their pregnancy. About 55% of women quit during their pregnancy or when they realized they were pregnant, but 40% of women would later relapse within six months after delivering their babies.

The consequences of smoking during pregnancy are severe and more often than not: tragic. Tobacco addiction can cause problems within the placenta, in which the placenta will separate from the womb too early and cause severe bleeding. This is dangerous to both the baby, who uses the placenta as a source of food and oxygen during pregnancy and the mother, who will have to report to the hospital. Babies are often born too early at a low birth weight, forcing them to be incubated in the hospital for longer periods of time until their health is restored to normal levels.

Not everyone can be so lucky to treat their babies back to health, however. Tobacco addiction during pregnancy tends to result in miscarriage, stillbirth, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). About 3,500 infants in the United States die unexpectedly each year, which is referred to as SIDS. While smoking during pregnancy is the overall cause of certain types of SIDS, the specific cause of the infant’s death is normally unknown. Yet, babies who live in unsafe environments where smoking occurs, they are more susceptible to pneumonia and bronchitis, accounting for 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations annually. More than 400,000 American babies are exposed to the chemicals in cigarettes because of mothers who have a tobacco addiction during pregnancy, and who suffer birth defects and health issues as result.

  • pregnancy smoking

    According to the Center for Disease Control, women who smoke have a significantly higher risk of stunting their pregnancy and preventing future pregnancy.

  • smoking during pregnancy

    When women smoke during pregnancy, it can cause tissue damage in both their own body and the body of their unborn child. There is also a link to smoking and cleft lip.

  • secondhand smoke effects on babies

    In pregnant women who smoke, their babies are exposed to secondhand smoke after they are born, which raises their likelihood for succumbing to SIDs.


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