10 Things People Might Not Know About Smoking and How to Quit
Smoking is bad for you, we all know that. It damages your health and it can be quite an expensive habit. What might start as a social activity can actually end up ruining your life. On top of that, not only does smoking affect your lungs, but it also affects your skin, your family and even your job prospects.
We are aware of the obvious effects such as lung disease and heart problems, but there are many wider physical and social effects smoking can have on our lives. We look at ten surprising facts that you may not know about smoking.
Smoking makes your arteries sticky
The nasty chemicals you inhale when you smoke a cigarette get quickly absorbed into your bloodstream and make your arteries sticky. Fatty deposits then build up and stick to these ‘sticky walls’ making it harder for blood to pass through.
Smoking also makes your blood thicker by making blood cells clump together. This can lead to strokes and heart attacks if blood cannot travel to vital organs like the brain and heart.
Smoking makes you age faster
Deeper wrinkles and sallow skin are just two examples of how smoking can age you. Many studies have confirmed that smoking causes premature ageing, so much so, that a 40 year old smoker has skin similar to that of a 70 year old non-smoker. Studies have also looked at the impact of smoking in sets of identical twins.
They found that those who smoked had lower eye bags, deeper nasolabial creases and more lip lines than their siblings. There is still hope for people who quit as smoking cessation can halt the effect of smoking. Although some long-term damage is expected, ex-smokers can age much better than smokers despite their previous habits..
Smoking makes your breath stink
Apart from the obvious stench of nicotine lingering in your clothes, hair and even in your home, you’re also more likely to have bad breath if you smoke. Smoking disrupts the healthy flora of the mouth making it easier for bacteria to attach and cause havoc. Smoking also increases your chance of developing gum disease which also contributes to bad breath.
Living with a smoker can kill you
You don’t necessarily have to be a smoker to develop smoke-related lung disease. Passive smoking kills 600,000 people a year of which a third of those are children. For every puff of a cigarette, a smoker is expelling harmful chemicals back into the air. For those who live with a smoker, they’ll be within a confined space for large periods of time. It’s a sobering fact to know that a habit you have may be killing your loved ones.
The UK government make millions from the tobacco industry
For every tobacco product sold, the government makes money from taxes on cigars and cigarettes either manufactured or imported into the UK. During the pandemic, the government made £8.5 billion from tobacco duty tax, which was 13.1% higher than the year before. An increase in taxation on products like these intend to discourage smoking and for the most part, has worked well as studies have shown.
Smoking can affect your fertility
Smoking can cause fertility issues in both men and women. Men who smoke often have reduced sperm counts with poor motility. Additionally, women who smoke were found to have lower implantation rates than non-smokers. This means that not only is it harder for a smoking couple to conceive, but the chances of a fertilised egg being able to successfully implant in the uterus is also less likely.
You are more likely to die from COVID-19
There has been a lot of discussion during the pandemic about whether or not smoking reduces your chance of catching coronavirus. Although there is still more research needed, what we do know is that smoking increases your chance of dying from COVID-19. Smoking damages your organs and decreases lung function. Any so-called benefit of smoking is immediately outweighed by all of the other health issues it causes.
Children are more likely to smoke if their parents do
Many people actually start smoking when they’re children. Those who have parents or siblings who smoke are 3 times as likely to pick up the habit. Although you have to be 18 before you can legally buy cigarettes, these laws are not enough to stop children from smoking. Easy access to cigarettes around the house as well as a familiarity with the smell make it much easier for children to develop a habit. The earlier someone starts, the longer they are to continue smoking and therefore less likely to give up.
You’re more likely to develop digestive issues
Smoking can increase your chances of developing stomach ulcers and bowel cancer, but did you know that it also increases your chances of developing Crohn’s disease?
The chemicals in cigarettes are incredibly toxic and can change the balance of bacteria in our gut as well as how our immune system works. Both disruptions can contribute to developing Crohn’s disease among other digestive diseases. For those who already have Crohn’s, guidelines strongly urge them to stop smoking. Crohn’s sufferers who smoke are twice as likely to have flare-ups than non-smokers.
Smokers earn less money
Did you know that smokers make less money on average compared to their non-smoking counterparts. Smokers are actually 7.5% less likely to be employed. This results in a massive £14.1 billion lost a year in lost earnings. Smokers are less likely to be fit enough to work, with a large proportion becoming disabled due to the effects of smoking. This has a huge impact on the economy as people become incapacitated due to prolonged smoking and therefore are unable to earn.
Although smoking rates have reduced, there are still a number of people who continue despite the risks. The coronavirus pandemic made a lot of people think more about their lung health, so much, that 1 million quit in 2020. With improved education and better research, we are more aware than ever about the harmful risks of smoking. Quitting can be hard but making that decision is the hardest part. With all of the support out there, it’s never been easier to quit smoking and promise yourself a better tomorrow for you and your family.
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