Tobacco and Cancer: Unveiling the Long-Term Effects of Smoking

tobacco market

Smoking refers to the practice of burning a plant substance and consuming its fumes, and it is one of the oldest forms of consuming tobacco. It has been around for more than 2,000 years and people used to chew and smoke tobacco during cultural and religious ceremonies.

Over the past centuries, tobacco has become a major consumer product often used for recreation and stress relief. Cigars, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, hookah, snuff, and smokeless tobacco have been some of the most known tobacco products, and market leaders have been developing new forms of tobacco amid evolving consumer preferences.

The tobacco market has witnessed remarkable transformations since its discovery- not only its demand exponentially grew during both World Wars I and II but also it has enjoyed a wide influence over political leaders. However, in the late 20th century, smoking started to lose popularity in Western countries, which compelled market players to divert their focus to developing countries in the Asia Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East.

In recent years, market players have introduced products like vapes and clove cigarettes to attract the younger generation. Due to their availability in different flavours and their milder taste, vapes and clove cigarettes are considered to be a gateway to smoking, especially among the young population. Such factors, along with the addition of sweet flavours in cigarettes, have fuelled the clover cigarettes market growth, particularly in developing countries.

Although it is considered that these products are safer and less toxic as compared to traditional cigarettes, they are as problematic as regular cigarettes, often more harmful due to the presence of eugenol. Vapes and clove cigarettes are mild anaesthetics, and their numbing effect enables smokers to inhale for a longer period of time.

There are more than a billion smokers worldwide who use tobacco, making it one of the most widely consumed psychoactive substances globally. Regular consumption of tobacco causes high exposure to nicotine, leading to nicotine dependence which can manifest itself in the form of insomnia, anxiety, reduced attention span, and irritability.

For decades now, smoking has been acknowledged as a harmful habit with significant implications for health. The adverse effects associated with smoking have been unveiled through extensive research conducted by experts across diverse scientific disciplines.

Research by American Cancer Association

According to the American Cancer Society, smokers, on average, die 10 years earlier than non-smokers and smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide. It is one of the largest contributors to several types of cancer, including lung, mouth, throat, oesophagus, pancreas, bladder, kidney, and cervix cancers.

Smoking presents significant dangers to the respiratory system, primarily due to the presence of toxic chemicals within cigarette smoke. These harmful substances actively irritate the airways, resulting in the potential development of chronic ailments like chronic bronchitis and emphysema. These conditions manifest in various symptoms such as difficulty of breathing, persistent coughing, and a decline in lung function.

Furthermore, due to the prolonged habit of smoking, there is a significant increase in the risk of developing serious lung diseases, including lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The organisation also concludes that smoking has far-reaching consequences on various organs and systems in the body. It damages the skin, leading to premature ageing, wrinkles, and a dull complexion. Smoking also weakens the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections and diseases. Furthermore, it increases the risk of developing diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis.

The Nature Reviews Study

A study published in Nature also explores the effects of smoking on our cardiovascular system. The study asserted that smoking severely damages blood vessels, increases blood pressure, promotes the formation of blood clots, and accelerates the development of atherosclerosis. These adverse effects significantly contribute to the heightened risk of cardiovascular events among smokers.

Furthermore, the study provided valuable insights into the harmful influence of smoking on the respiratory system. Smoking emerges as a leading factor behind chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a progressive lung ailment responsible for compromised breathing and diminished lung capacity.

The researchers also drew attention to a strong correlation between smoking and respiratory infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis and the high susceptibility of smokers to these diseases.

The Dangers of Secondhand Smoke

While these studies focus on the adverse effects of smoking on individuals, it is also important to acknowledge the damage smoking causes to our surroundings. Secondhand smoke, the involuntary inhalation of smoke by non-smokers, poses significant health risks. The toxic chemicals released from burning tobacco can be equally detrimental to non-smokers, increasing their chances of developing various diseases, including lung cancer and respiratory illnesses.

To combat the pervasive impact of smoking and reduce tobacco consumption, both governments and health organisations have implemented stringent measures. These include public smoking bans, increased taxation on tobacco products, and comprehensive tobacco control programmes aimed at raising awareness and promoting smoking cessation.

Such studies and research reinstate the urgent need for developing strict control strategies and comprehensive public health initiatives to combat the detrimental effects of smoking and control tobacco consumption around the globe.

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