Saturday, August 20, 2011

Does tobacco smoke contain harmful chemicals?

Does tobacco smoke contain harmful chemicals?
Yes. Tobacco smoke contains chemicals that are harmful to both smokers and nonsmokers. Breathing even a little tobacco smoke can be harmful. Of the 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 250 are known to be harmful. The toxic chemicals found in smoke include hydrogen cyanide (used in chemical weapons), carbon monoxide (found in car exhaust), formaldehyde (used as an embalming fluid), ammonia (used in household cleaners), and toluene (found in paint thinners). Of the 250 known harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, more than 50 have been found to cause cancer. These chemicals include the following:
• Arsenic (a heavy metal toxin)
• Benzene (a chemical found in gasoline)
• Beryllium (a toxic metal)
• Cadmium (a metal used in batteries)
• Chromium (a metallic element)
• Ethylene oxide (a chemical used to sterilize medical devices)
• Nickel (a metallic element)
• Polonium-210 (a chemical element that gives off radiation)
• Vinyl chloride (a toxic substance used in plastics manufacture)
What are the immediate benefits of quitting smoking?
The immediate health benefits of quitting smoking are substantial. Heart rate and blood pressure, which were abnormally high while smoking, begin to return to normal. Within a few hours, the level of carbon monoxide in the blood begins to decline. (Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas found in cigarette smoke, reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen.) Within a few weeks, people who quit smoking have improved circulation, don’t produce as much phlegm, and don’t cough or wheeze as often. Within several months of quitting, people can expect significant improvements in lung function.
What are the long-term benefits of quitting smoking?
Quitting smoking reduces the risk of cancer and other diseases, such as heart disease and lung disease, caused by smoking. People who quit smoking, regardless of their age, are less likely than those who continue to smoke to die from smoking-related illness.
Quitting Smoking: Why to Quit and How to Get Help
Studies have shown that quitting at about age 30 reduces the chance of dying from smoking-related diseases by more than 90 percent. People who quit at about age 50 reduce their risk of dying pre- maturely by 50 percent compared with those who continue to smoke. Even people who quit at about age 60 or older live longer than those who continue to smoke.
How can I help someone I know quit smoking?
It’s understandable to be concerned about someone you know who currently smokes. It’s important to find out if this person wants to quit smoking. Most smokers say they want to quit. If they don’t want to quit, try to find out why. Here are some things you can do to help:
• Express things in terms of your own concern about the smoker’s health (“I’m worried about . . .”).
• Acknowledge that the smoker may get something out of smoking and may find it difficult to quit.
• Be encouraging and express your faith that the smoker can quit for good.
• Suggest a specific action, such as calling a smoking quitline, for help in quitting smoking.
• Ask the smoker for ways you can provide support.
Here are two things you should not do:
• Don’t send quit smoking materials to smokers unless they ask for them.
• Don’t criticize, nag, or remind the smoker about past failures.


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