Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 440,000 lives in America alone each year, including those affected indirectly, such as babies born prematurely due to prenatal maternal smoking and some of the victims of "secondhand" exposure to tobacco's carcinogens. All cigarettes can damage the human body. Any amount of smoke is dangerous. Cigarettes are perhaps the only legal product whose advertised and intended use, smoking, is harmful to the body and causes cancer.

Cigarettes contain at least 69 distinct cancer-causing chemicals. Smoking is directly responsible for 87 percent of lung cancer cases and causes most cases of emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking is also a major factor in coronary heart disease and stroke; may be causally related to malignancies in other parts of the body; and has been linked to a variety of other conditions and disorders, including slowed healing of wounds, infertility, and peptic ulcer disease.

People may try to make their smoking habit safer by smoking fewer cigarettes, but most smokers find that hard to do. Some people think that switching from high tar and nicotine cigarettes to those with low tar and nicotine content makes smoking safer, but this is not always true. When people switch to lower tar and nicotine brands, they often smoke more cigarettes or more of each cigarette to get the same nicotine dose as before.

A low-tar cigarette can be just as harmful as a high-tar cigarette when a person takes deeper puffs, puffs more frequently, or smokes cigarettes to a shorter butt length. Even if smokers who switch to lower tar brands do not make these changes to compensate, the health benefits are very small when compared to the benefits of quitting for good.

The nicotine in cigarette smoke causes an addiction to smoking. Nicotine is an addictive drug, just like heroin and cocaine, for 3 main reasons:

· When taken in small amounts, nicotine creates pleasant feelings that make the smoker want to smoke more.

· Smokers usually become dependent on nicotine and suffer withdrawal symptoms when they stop smoking. These symptoms include nervousness, headaches, irritability, and difficulty in sleeping.

· Because nicotine affects the chemistry of the brain and central nervous system, it can affect the mood and nature of the smoker.

Nicotine is an addictive drug, which when inhaled in cigarette smoke reaches the brain faster than drugs that enter the body intravenously. Smokers become not only physically addicted to nicotine; they also link smoking with many social activities, making smoking a difficult habit to break.

Nicotine is a poison and in large doses can kill a person by stopping their breathing muscles. The first dose of nicotine causes a person to feel awake and alert, while later doses result in a calm, relaxed feeling. Nicotine can make new smokers, and regular smokers who get too much of it, feel giddy or ill to their stomachs. The resting heart rate for young smokers increases 2 to 3 beats per minute. It also lowers skin temperature and reduces blood flow in the legs and feet. Nicotine plays an important role in increasing smokers' risk of heart disease and stroke.

When nicotine and other compound in the cigarette burns, it produces smoke. Cigarette smoke is a complex mixture of organic and inorganic compounds produced by the burning of tobacco and additives. The smoke contains tar, which is made up of over 4,000 chemicals, including over 60 known to cause cancer. Some of these substances cause heart and lung diseases, and all of them can be deadly. You might be surprised to know some of the chemicals found in cigarette smoke. They include:

· cyanide
· benzene
· formaldehyde
· methanol (wood alcohol)
· acetylene (the fuel used in welding torches)
· ammonia

Cigarette smoke also contains the poisonous gases nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide. Its main active ingredient is nicotine, an addictive drug.

All forms of tobacco are dangerous. Even if the health risks were smaller for some tobacco products as opposed to others, all tobacco products contain nicotine, which can lead to increased use and addiction. Tobacco cannot be considered safe in any amount or form. Several forms of flavored tobacco have become popular in recent years, especially among younger people. Clove cigarettes, bidis, and, more recently, hookahs, often appeal to those who want something a little different or “exotic.” But these products carry many of the same risks of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Clove cigarettes
Also called kreteks, are imported mainly from Indonesia and contain 60% to 70% tobacco and 30% to 40% ground cloves, clove oil, and other additives. The chemicals in cloves have been implicated in some cases of asthma and other lung diseases. Users often have the mistaken notion that smoking clove cigarettes is safer than smoking tobacco or marijuana. But they are a tobacco product with the same health risks as cigarettes.

These flavoured cigarettes imported mainly from India. They are hand-rolled in an unprocessed tobacco leaf and tied with strings on the ends. Their popularity has grown in recent years in part because they come in a variety of candy-like flavors such as strawberry, vanilla, and grape, they are usually less expensive than regular cigarettes, and they often give the smoker an immediate buzz.

Even though bidis contain less tobacco than regular cigarettes, recent studies have found that they have higher levels of nicotine (the addictive chemical in tobacco) and other harmful substances such as tar and carbon monoxide. And because they are thinner than regular cigarettes, they require about 3 times as many puffs per cigarette. They are also unfiltered. Bidis appear to have all of the same health risks of regular cigarettes, if not more.

Smoking hookah started in the Middle East, and involves burning flavored tobacco in a water pipe and inhaling the smoke through a long hose. It has recently become popular among young people, especially around college campuses. It is marketed as being safer than cigarettes because the percent of tobacco in the product smoked is low. This claim for safety is not true. Several types of cancer, as well as other health effects, have been linked to hookah smoking.

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