Despite being known as extremely toxic and additive and costing over eight million lives per year, many people continue to smoke. It is estimated that there are 1.3 billion smokers in the world and 80 percent of them live in low- and middle-income countries.
A defining characteristic of the tobacco industry has been its ability to adapt to the changing world. For instance, when the link between cancer and smoking first gained public attention, manufacturers responded by putting filters on cigarettes.
While there is no scientific evidence showing that filters protect smokers from the harmful effects of tobacco, massive marketing from the tobacco industry made it appear that it did.
Then, when cigarettes became a major concern in public health, they introduced e-cigarettes which were dubbed as a ‘safer’ and ‘healthier’ alternative.
Millions of people fell into the bait and switched to e-cigarettes, thinking that they are doing themselves a favor. Others who were looking to quit smoking turned to vapes without thinking that it was also going to do them harm.
The Healthy Smoking Myth
The truth is that there’s no such thing as a healthy smoker, especially when it comes to cancer prevention.
A lot of people think that they can offset the negative effects of smoking if they exercise and eat healthily.
But experts agree that it isn’t absolutely the case.
While it’s true that exercise is one of the best ways to improve your health and lower your cancer risk, you can’t undo what smoking does to your body. Even if you eat a balanced diet and work out, smoking still increases your risk for chronic diseases.
Research involving athletes reveals that even though regular exercise somewhat reduced the risk of lung cancer, it didn’t reverse many of the other health problems caused by smoking, particularly heart disease and pulmonary problems.
According to the researchers, a person’s heart rate will be elevated for 12 hours after smoking. Over time, this causes strain on the heart and leads to problems.
Here are some other myths about smoking:
Occasional Smoking Won’t Hurt You
People who smoke for just a few days or weeks or only during social gatherings think that they can escape its risks. Don’t buy it. Every cigarette you smoke causes damage to your health.
There is no safe level of exposure to cigarette smoke. Even small amounts of the chemicals in cigarettes can damage your blood vessels and make your blood more likely to clot.
In fact, experts say that smoking just one to four cigarettes a day can double one’s risk of dying from heart disease. Meanwhile, heavy smokers who reduce their cigarette consumption in half are still at a very high risk of dying early.
‘Light’ Cigarettes Are Safer
There is no such thing as a safe cigarette.
Many people opt for “mild”, “light”, or “ultra-light” cigarettes because they think that they contain fewer chemicals, including tar than full-flavored cigarettes.
Well, the truth is that light cigarettes are not safer for you than regular cigarettes. The exposure to chemicals from light cigarettes is just as high as that from regular cigarettes.
Neither does it lower one’s risk of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic diseases. According to a study by the National Cancer Institute, people who switched from regular to light cigarettes are likely to have inhaled the same amount of toxic chemicals.
E-cigarettes Are a Healthy Choice
E-cigarettes are marketed as a healthy alternative to tobacco. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. The aerosol in vapes contains damaging chemicals, including nicotine, cadmium, pesticides, and heavy metals that are linked to lung disease.
While e-cigarettes are considered less harmful than cigarettes, they are still not safe. Moreover, research suggests that vaping is bad for your heart and lungs. Since they also contain nicotine, they are no different from regular tobacco products as far as the health effects are concerned.
Also, there are many things we don’t know yet about vaping, including what chemicals make up the vapor.
To date, no e-cigarette has been approved as a smoking cessation device or authorized to make a modified risk claim.
Smokeless Tobacco is Safer
Some people think that smokeless tobacco like pipes, hookahs, cigars, snuff, and chewing tobacco are safe alternatives to cigarettes.
Well, they aren’t. Smokeless tobacco causes gum problems and precancerous lesions, and it can cause mouth, lung, and pancreatic cancer. They also contain nitrosamines which are known to cause cancer.
Smokeless tobacco also contains high levels of nicotine so they are very addictive. According to the CDC, young people who use smokeless tobacco can become addicted to nicotine, which increases their likelihood to become cigarette smokers.
It’s Too Late to Quit
It doesn’t matter if you’re in your 20s or 60s, it’s never too late to quit. Quitting, even in later life, has been shown to reduce one’s risk of death.
Even if you’ve smoked your whole life, it’s still worth it to stop. If you quit smoking now, you will improve your health and quality of life. The benefits of quitting start the moment you throw your last cigarette.
Your heart rate and blood pressure will go down and your lungs will work better. In addition, your body’s overall energy level will increase.
One year after you quit, your risk of heart disease will be cut by half.
Stop Smoking Today
Smoking is dangerous regardless if you’re just getting a few puffs per day or smoking occasionally.
Even if you’re exercising regularly and eating healthy meals, you can’t escape the negative effects of smoking on your body.
That said, there is no other way than to stop. Thankfully, quitting smoking for good is possible although it isn’t always easy for some. Instead of quitting cold turkey, opt for a smoking cessation method that works for you.
One of the keys to successfully quitting smoking is preparation. Create a quick plan which includes the things you will do when nicotine withdrawal symptoms start to kick in. alternatively, you can contact a health professional to create a smoking cessation program for you.