Smoking - an essay on the history and hazards of smoking.

Topics: Smoking, Tobacco smoking, Tobacco Pages: 6 (1726 words) Published: May 22, 2002
One of the most popular habits in today's society is smoking. Yet each year, cigarette smoking kills more Americans than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, homicides, suicides, illegal drugs and fires combined. Smoking is an extremely bad pastime, practiced for centuries, for an individual's health and those surrounding him/her. People start for many different reasons and get addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes. Smoking cause many fatal diseases, but help is available to those who seek it. Cigarette smoking is a disgusting and unhealthy habit.

History of Smoking

Smoking is defined as the action of inhaling tobacco from a pipe, cigar or cigarette. It has been practiced for 100's of years, including by early North-American natives. Europeans had introduced it into the Old World by the early 16th century (Petrakis). It was continually practiced since then throughout the world, with tobacco companies arising and packaged cigarettes soon available. Smokers would praise it for medicinal reasons and also claimed smoking to be pleasurable.

Smokers had no knowledge of cigarette smoke's harm to their health until 1964, when the surgeon general of the U.S Public Health Service concluded that smoking was hazardous to an individual's health, and soon after it was discovered that second-hand smoke was also hazardous to the health of surrounding non-smokers inhaling it.

Reasons Why People Smoke

There are many reasons why people begin smoking. One of which is insecurity. In an uncertain situation in which a person is not comfortable with their individuality and not confident with themselves, if there are smokers around then that person may be tempted to take up smoking. It might be because they would like to "fit in" with an unknown group of people, or someone may take it up based on a new friend's or girl/boyfriend's influences.

Another reason why people take up smoking is because of peer pressure leading to a quick physical addiction. One ingredient in cigarettes is nicotine, and it is extremely addictive. And yet nicotine is not the only physical reason people smoke, they are also get hooked on the taste, smell and the feel of cigarettes.

Health Risks of Smoking

According to the American Heart Association there are an estimated 50 million Americans who smoke. Many smokers claim that smoking relieves them of stress and relaxes and comforts them. In recent years it has been proven that the only thing smoking does is threaten a person's life. There are many hazardous ingredients in cigarette tobacco. Some of the ingredients are poisonous and addictive. Cigarette smoke produces thousands of chemicals that are hazardous to a smoker's health. There are over 4000 chemicals produced by a burning cigarette. At least 200 chemicals are known to be poisonous to people health. Filters help to block and reduce some of the chemicals, but they will not stop them completely.

Nicotine is the most addictive ingredient and also one of the most dangerous ingredients in cigarette tobacco. Cigarette smokers are addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes as a drug-addict is addicted to heroin or cocaine. When a person smokes a cigarette the body reacts immediately to the chemical nicotine. It requires less than 10 seconds for inhaled nicotine to reach the brain. Nicotine begins to effect a smoker's blood pressure, the flow of blood from their heart, the heartbeat and breathing rate.

Cigarette smoke also contains carbon monoxide, the same poisonous gases released from a car exhaust pipe. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless highly toxic gas that reduces the amount of oxygen the blood can carry. Combined with the effects produced by the nicotine, it creates an imbalance in the demand for oxygen by the cells and the amount of oxygen the blood is able to supply. In this case, carbon monoxide will damage the inner walls of the arteries that encourage the buildup of fat. Which cause the vessels of the arteries to narrow and harden,...
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