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The Causes of Smoking

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  • December 2012
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Smoking is a practice in which a substance, most commonly tobacco, is burned and the smoke is tasted or inhaled. This is primarily practised as a route of administration forrecreational drug use, as combustion releases the active substances in drugs such as nicotineand makes them available for absorption through the lungs. It can also be done as a part of rituals, to induce trances and spiritual enlightenment. Smoking is one of the most common forms of recreational drug use. Tobacco smoking is today by far the most popular form of smoking and is practiced by over one billion people in the majority of all human societies. Less common drugs for smoking include cannabis and opium. Some of the substances are classified as hard narcotics, like heroin, but the use of these is very limited as they are often not commercially available.

Health effects

Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death globally. In the United States about 500,000 deaths per year are attributed to smoking-related diseases and a recent study estimated that as much as 1/3 of China's male population will have significantly shortened life-spans due to smoking.[37] Male and female smokers lose an average of 13.2 and 14.5 years of life, respectively.[38] At least half of all lifelong smokers die earlier as a result of smoking.[39][40] The risk of dying from lung cancer before age 85 is 22.1% for a male smoker and 11.9% for a female current smoker, in the absence of competing causes of death.

Physiology

Inhaling the vaporized gas form of substances into the lungs is a quick and very effective way of delivering drugs into the bloodstream (as the gas diffuses directly into the pulmonary vein, then into the heart and from there to the brain) and affects the user within less than a second of the first inhalation. The lungs consist of several million tiny bulbs called alveoli that altogether have an area of over 70 m² (about the area of a tennis court). This can be used to...