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Tar the roads, not your lungs

A few weeks ago I dropped *Andrew off at his house. As he got out of the car, he picked up his packet of cigarettes that fell into the space between the two front seats. I casually said to him that if he ever wanted to stop smoking, I’ll be there to support him. He nonchalantly answered: “You see; the problem is this; I do not want to stop smoking.” Just like Andrew, there are many people who smoke and enjoy it, but may not necessarily know the full impact of their habit.

In this edition, we zoom in on the harmful ingredients of cigarettes as a befitting sequel to the previous article on lung health.

The million-dollar question is: “Do you know what it is that you are smoking?” You may just be in for a big surprise! The American Lung Association explains that cigarettes contain about 600 ingredients such as nicotine, arsenic (also found in rat poison), ammonia (household cleaner), acetone (nail polish remover), butane (lighter fluid), acetic acid (hair dye), and many others, of which are also found in cigars and hookahs. When these ingredients burn, they generate over 7,000 chemicals, most of them poisonous and linked to cancer. The residue of these ingredients build up over the years and literally “tar” your lungs! In the end, you are slowly, but surely orchestrating your own death!

Smoking is a notoriously addictive habit that is difficult to quit. In fact, some studies hint that nicotine is as addictive as crack cocaine. Literature indicates that a typical smoker inhales about 200 hits of nicotine a day - that is ten puffs per cigarette; times 20 cigarettes a day. This equates to over 70,000 hits per year. So, the longer you smoke, the more hits!

As a result, your brain relentlessly waits for the next nicotine hit. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that, contrary to popular belief, there is no safe way to smoke, and replacing a cigarette with a cigar, pipe, or hookah won’t reduce the health risks associated with smoking. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the global tobacco epidemic kills more than 7 million people each year, making it one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced.

Close to one million of these deaths are a result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoking. More than one billion people in the world are smokers, and 80% of them live in low- and middle-income countries. Closer to home, the Namibia Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) of 2013 reported over 1000 smoking-related deaths in Namibia each year. That means on average, 13 men and 6 women die each week due to smoking-related complications.

While it is a well-known fact that tobacco smoke is harmful to your health, the economic impact is often ignored. Let’s do a quick calculation: a packet of cigarettes may cost you on average N$45.00. If you smoke one packet a day for a full year, you’d have forked out a whopping N$16425.00 by the end of that year! Now, considering all the above, you, and possibly Andrew, may want to get out of your abusive relationship with cigarettes.

This article originally appeared at the New Era Live website


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