Health Beat — Smoking

The Social Norm

Smoking in today’s society has become socially acceptable. It is a part of our everyday lives and affects not only the smoker, but also those around them. The long-term effects of smoking are horrendous. “I like the taste of cigarettes, and it keeps me de-stressed,” said GCC student Erica Granados. Most college students that do smoke have been smoking since high school, and now use smoking as a release for stress. Nearly one in every four people smoke in the United States. Nationwide, 22.9 percent of high school students are smokers and 27 percent of 18 to 24 years-old people are smokers.

Smoking & the Lungs

Smoking causes the build-up of tar in the lungs; it also causes the lungs of a long time smoker to appear to be darkened. This is due to the build-up of tar accumulated through the years of smoking. Smoking also causes a build-up of scar tissue in the lungs and airways that are most commonly associated with emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It also causes the lungs to wear out faster and when the lungs are damaged it is harder for a person to breathe; often smokers are gasping for air.

Diseases & Risks of Smoking

Each year 440,000 people
in America die from smoking, making it the cause of one in every five deaths. Smoking kills more than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide and illicit drug use combined. The major disease related to smoking is lung cancer and accounts for 87 percent of lung cancer deaths caused by smoking. It has surpassed breast cancer as the leading cancer among American women.

Other health problems caused by smoking are emphysema, COPD, heart disease, birth defects, strokes and bronchitis while also contributing to the severity of pneumonia. Many types of cancer are also linked to smoking such as cancers of the throat, bladder, pancreas, stomach, liver, kidneys and rectum.

Quitting Smoking

“It is very difficult to quit in this school because everyone around you is smoking,” said a GCC student who chose to remain unnamed. There are many ways to quit smoking. Some of the more popular ways are by using a nicotine patch or nicotine gum. Some companies advertise pills that claim to help people stop smoking. Others choose to quit smoking without the aid of nicotine patches. These people often have the most difficult time quitting because they do not have the nicotine in their system. There are also support groups out there that help people who are trying to quit. These support groups share their experiences with each other and encourage each other to quit smoking.