Smoking equals CHOKING
Smoking cigarettes is cool. At least that’s what
people who smoke seem to think, and that’s what we see
in movies and television. But I don’t think smoking is
cool, and not because I hear about how bad it is for
your health. I think smoking stinks. I couldn’t play
basketball that well if I smoked. But for those of you
who smoke, or are thinking you might look cool if you
smoked, here’s a few details about those cancer sticks
you put in your mouth.
If you ever wondered what they put in cigarettes, as I
have, you may be shocked to find the answer. They
contain dozens of chemicals and, according the Centers
for Disease Control, more than 60 of the chemical
compounds are proven carcinogens, or things that cause
cancer. They include carbon monoxide, which is found
in car exhaust, acetone that is found in nail polish
remover and arsenic, which is used as rat poison.
Those poisons are so deadly that, according to
thetruth.com, cigarettes kill more Americans than
AIDS, drugs, homicides, fires, and auto accidents
Smoking tobacco can also contribute to the biggest
killers in America, Heart Disease and Cancer, said Dr.
Jennifer Choate, an oncologist (a doctor who treats
cancer), who works at Watsonville Community Hospital.
The biggest killer in the U.S. is heart disease, which
is caused by smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes,
family history and cholesterol. If you smoke and have
any of the other contributors, Choate says you
can “pretty much guarantee” that you’ll get heart
The number two killer is cancer, with tobacco causing
a large number of these deaths. Not only does smoking
cause cancers you might expect like lung, mouth and
esophagus, it also causes bladder and kidney cancer,
which are hard to catch.
Choate said it takes 20 “pack years”—smoking a pack a
day for twenty years—to get cancer. That may sound
like a lot, but if you smoke two packs a day and start
when you’re 15, you can get cancer by the time you’re
just 25 years old.
There are no tests for tobacco cancers so cancer is
usually not caught until late stages. Even if you
catch lung cancer in its first stage, there’s a 60
percent chance you won’t survive. If it’s caught
later, the survival rate drops to just eight percent,
There are other terrible health problems that can
result from cigarettes. Smokers can get emphysema,
which Choate describes at the constant feeling of
drowning. Some people with this disease have to take
oxygen tanks with them everywhere they go.
So if it’s so harmful, why do people smoke? For some,
it’s that they see their parents smoking and think it
must be okay. For others, such as one 16-year-old
interviewed, it was peer pressure. Choate said that
many girls do it to look cute. What they may not
realize is that it can cause stained fingers and
nails, bad breath, bad teeth and wrinkles. “You won’t
look cute if you’ve got huge wrinkles by the age of
28,” Choate said. Once people start smoking, they
become physically hooked to nicotine; the second most
addictive drug behind heroin. Then it’s really
difficult to quit.
For those of you reading this article that smoke, it’s
not too late to quit. There are plenty of resources
for teenagers hoping to kick the habit.
- The American Cancer Society offers counseling 24
hours a day, 7 days a week. (800) ACS-2345.
- Office on smoking and health. (800) 232-1311.
- Ready, Set. Stop! Online - WellMed’s self-paced
smoking cessation program.
- A free web-based smoking cessation study in English
The X Pack is a self-help kit packed full of items to
help young adult smokers kick the habit. It includes
an ex-smokers handbook, a success-o-meter, quit card,
preoccupation putty, chewing gum and cinnamon
toothpicks. It is $6 plus shipping. Check out www.x-