I was walking on my way to work this morning and managed to catch up with a guy who was smoking. Not only did he unknowingly blow his smoke in my face, he then proceeded to throw his cigarette butt away…(two of my pet hates!).
It got me thinking, wondering why, with all of the information and resources available today, anyone in their right mind in this day and age would choose to smoke?
So I wrote this:
Hey Mr Smokey Man
Why do you smoke? In fact, it’s none of my business why you smoke. You are allowed to do whatever you want, so you can smoke if you want to. No doubt you know the health implications that smoking has on your health, but you still choose to do it. Fine. But please don’t let it impact on me. (For more information about how smoking affects your health and the health of those around you, please see here).
Please don’t walk in front of me with your cigarette, seemingly unknowingly blowing your smoke right in my face, and please don’t throw your cigarette butt on the ground once you’ve had it. Please consider others whilst you choose to contaminate yourself. Don’t just throw your cigarette butt away once you’ve finished with it. Would you throw away a crisp packet or can like you just nonchalantly discarded your cigarette butt? Well, you shouldn’t. So don’t throw your dirty cigarette butt away either. Think about it.
It’s up to you if you choose to smoke or not. I’m not going to tell you not to smoke, but I am going to tell you that I don’t understand anyone who does smoke. I can’t understand why any sensible person would choose to poison their bodies with the chemicals and toxins which smoking does. Surely people who smoke are stupid? Or just so set in their ways and unable to change, that they can’t see how much damage they are causing themselves and others. Not to mention the cost and the fact that your breath, clothes and house probably stinks and your body is being poisoned.
Perhaps natural selection means that those who choose to smoke deserve all of the health, disease and cost implications they choose to inflict on themselves?
And as for excuses as to why you can’t stop smoking. Get over yourself. You can do anything you want to. And before you start, stress isn’t a good reason to smoke… Scientific studies show that people’s stress levels are lower after they stop smoking. Nicotine addiction makes smokers stressed from the ‘withdrawal’ between cigarettes. The pleasant feeling of satisfying that craving is only temporary and is not a real cure for stress. Also, the improved levels of oxygen in the body means that ex-smokers can concentrate better and have increased mental wellbeing.
Other common excuses include:
- Enjoyment of smoking – you just don’t want to give up as you enjoy it so much. Well, will you enjoy dying of cancer or another related disease 16 years before I will?
- Craving for cigarettes – some smokers report that the anticipation of craving for a cigarette after quitting discouraged them from trying to quit. Get over your craving and realise that they are going to kill you and put a big dent in your wallet too!
- Fear of gaining weight – be careful what you eat and when you eat and you shouldn’t gain weight. Don’t eat out of boredom, and why not start a fresh and include some more exercise in your life – really make a change for the better?
- All of my other friends smoke – if all of your friends walked off a cliff – would you? Stop being a sheep and decide to make the change to improve your life. Better still – why not persuade them to join you in your challenge to give up.
If you want to stop smoking – you can and there are plenty of resources to help you do it.
Here’s some of the things which might happen if you do give up (and you’re american or wanting to save dollars 😉 ):
Now what about the facts and health implications of smoking?
SMOKERS AND COSTS
Well, around 10 million adults in Great Britain smoke cigarettes: 21% of men and 20% of women. Two-thirds of smokers start before the age of 18. In England 20% of people smoke, whilst in Scotland and Wales 25% of people smoke. Every year, over 100,000 smokers in the UK die from smoking related causes.
Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemical compounds, present as either gases or as tiny particle. These include carbon monoxide, arsenic, formaldehyde, cyanide, benzene, toluene and acrolein.
Smoking costs the National Health Service (NHS) approximately £2.7 billion a year for treating diseases caused by smoking. About 78% of the price of a packet of cigarettes consists of taxation. In 2010-11, the Government spent £84.3m on services to help people stop smoking and a further £65.1m on stop smoking medication.
SMOKING AND DISEASE
- Smoking causes around 86% of deaths from lung cancer, around 80% of deaths from bronchitis and emphysema, and about 17% of deaths from heart disease. More than a quarter of all cancer deaths can be attributed to smoking.
- People who smoke between 1 and 14 cigarettes a day have eight times the risk of dying from lung cancer compared to non-smokers. Smokers under the age of 40 have five times greater risk of a heart attack than non-smokers.
- On average women smokers go through the menopause up to 2 years earlier than non-smokers and are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Smoking has been associated with increased sperm abnormalities and is a cause of impotence.
- It can affect both your sense of taste and smell. Smokers are more likely to develop facial wrinkles at a younger age and have dental hygiene problems.
- Teenage smokers experience more asthma and respiratory symptoms, suffer poorer health, have more school absences and are less fit.
Exposure to other people’s tobacco smoke is also a cause of ill-health. I know all about secondhand smoke – my Mum smoked 40-60 a day throughout my childhood!
Secondhand smoke has been shown to cause:
- lung cancer and heart disease in adult non-smokers;
- increased sensitivity and reduced lung function in people with asthma;
- irritation of the eye, nose and throat;
- reduced lung function in adults with no chronic chest problems.
- The death of Roy Castle and many other non smokers!
(Roy just stood out for me from when I was young).
Secondhand smoke exposure also harms babies and children, with an increased risk of respiratory infections, increased severity of asthma symptoms, more frequent occurrence of chronic coughs, phlegm and wheezing, and increased risk of cot death and glue ear.
It is estimated that globally 600,000 deaths a year are caused by secondhand smoke.
BENEFITS OF STOPPING SMOKING
- You’ll live longer: smokers lose an average of 16 years of life.
- Stopping smoking reduces the risk of developing many fatal diseases.
- One year after stopping, the risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker and within 15 years falls to a level similar to that of a person who has never smoked.
- Within 10-15 years of quitting, an ex-smoker’s risk of developing lung cancer is only slightly greater than that of a non-smoker.
- You’ll save money!
- You won’t need to replace your clothes / carpets / furniture as much: Smoking makes a residue stick to your clothes, furniture and carpets with stained with a bad smell or colour.
- A 20 a day smoker will spend almost £48,000 over the next 20 years!
- Smoking 15 a day, costs around £35 a week, or around £2,000 a year.
- Think of the holidays or purchases you could make with that kind of money!
- Your health and your family’s health will improve.
- You’ll be able to play with your kids more and won’t be as out of breath when you’re looking after them / chasing them.
- 73% of children worry that their mum or dad will die because they smoke
- Children exposed to a smoky atmosphere are more likely to suffer from breathing problems, allergies & chest infections
- If you smoke, your children are twice as likely to smoke when they grow up.
- Children exposed to a smoky atmosphere are off sick from school more often.
Other benefits include:
- Better sex
- Improved fertility
- Younger looking skin
- Whiter teeth
- Better breathing
- Longer life
- Less stress
- Improved smell and taste
- More energy
- Healthier loved ones
In fact, with all of the benefits of not smoking, surely it is simply common sense NOT to smoke! I honestly can’t understand why anyone would choose to do it!
But, I meant it when I said ‘you can smoke if you want to’. But really?
Do you really want to smoke? Really?
If you want to give up smoking… why not go see your GP, or tell your friends and ask for their support. As I’ve already mentioned, the NHS (our taxes) has spent millions of pounds of providing resources and treatments to help you stop. See more below:
HOW TO GIVE UP SMOKING
The NHS has made provision to help people like Mr Smokey Man give up smoking: see the NHS smokefree online resource for more information.
It includes information on:
So if you do smoke, why don’t you give up for good? It’ll be the best decision you ever made.
You can do it, just like you can do anything you set your mind to.