Harmful Health Effects Of Smoking
On April 5 voters approved the Springfield Smokefree Air Act of 2011. This new ordinance will prohibit smoking:
- in all enclosed places of employment.
- in all enclosed public places.
- within five feet of outside entrances, operable windows and ventilation systems where smoking is prohibited.
Why the community outcry over cigarette smoking in public places? Regardless on which side of this issue you find yourself, the facts show that smoking accounts for an estimated 443,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. This number includes nonsmokers who were exposed to secondhand smoke. Facts such as these got the attention of many in our community.
What makes smoking so dangerous? The American Cancer Society reports that cigarette smoke contains a mix of chemicals, many of which are known to cause cancer. A few of those cancer-causing chemicals include arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde, and ethylene oxide. The National Cancer Institute lists each of these chemicals as causing cancer in humans.
Cancer isn't the only hazard facing those exposed to tobacco smoke. The National Cancer Institute also lists an increased risk of heart disease as an effect of exposure. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, ear infections, colds, pneumonia, bronchitis, and more severe asthma. View more health effects of smoking on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
A public information booklet from the Surgeon General uses a quite succinct metaphor to explain the damage done by smoking: "If you spilled drain cleaner on your skin, it would hurt and become inflamed. If you did this many times a day, your skin would not have a chance to heal. It would stay red, irritated, and inflamed. The organs in your body also have a lining of cells similar to skin. Chemicals in tobacco smoke cause inflammation and damage to these cells. When you keep smoking, the damage cannot heal."
The immediate health benefits of quitting smoking are substantial. Despite the evidence supporting the health benefits of not smoking, quitting can be a challenge. Luckily, there are many smoking cessation resources available. The Library also has books available to anyone who is trying to kick the habit:
The Easy Way to Stop Smoking
by Allen Carr
The Enlightened Smoker's Guide to Quitting
by B. Jack Gebhardt
Kicking Butts: Quit Smoking and Take Charge of Your Health
by the American Cancer Society
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