Everything in a cigarette is bad for you. There is nothing beneficial about it, period. Every substance contained within is toxic and designed to make you crave more, that’s how the cigarette companies make money.
Continued smoking is the result of an addiction to the drug, nicotine. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), nicotine has a serious effect on the body’s regulation of a natural substance called, acetylcholine.
Without getting too deep into the physiological details, acetylcholine aids in the release of dopamine, the chemical that makes smokers feel pleasure when they light up. As the body becomes more accustomed to this artificial stimulus, it craves more. That’s why it’s so tough to beat unless you can stop cold and give your body time to recover to a normal chemical “rhythm,” for lack of a better word. That could help you better resist the cravings.
For smokers struggling to quit, unsuccessfully, it has to be frustrating to watch others just throw away their last pack and never pick up another. But everyone’s chemical makeup is a little different and some people just have an easier time dumping the smokes.
No one in my immediate family smoked, so I’ve been lucky enough to never to have developed an interest in cigarettes. That said, I’ve been forced to watch my share of people become seriously ill or die over the years as a direct result of smoking.
It was always puzzling to me how smart, educated people could do something so incredibly stupid. But it’s not about smarts or education. Once you start, you’ve potentially signed up to be a member of the club for life.
There are no benefits to this particular membership, however, only disease and a horrific death from some debilitating cocktail of lymphatic illness, heart disease, and, of course, lung cancer. It’s about now that someone reading this is saying, “Eh, something’s going to kill me, I might as well enjoy life and do what I want.”
Grand words. But the longer you smoke, the less you’ll enjoy about your so-called life. First, you’ll be isolated from people who like oxygen instead of carcinogens, doomed to the purgatory of the “smoking areas,” out in the cold and rain. You look sort of pathetic and ridiculous out there, you know that, right?
And enjoy life? Are you kidding? Not a chance. Instead, you’ll cough, wheeze and be out of breath all the time. Your body will also have a reduced resistance to infections like the flu and pneumonia. But, if you’re lucky, you’ll only have to be on an oxygen tank at home rather than dragging one around with you.
As you go about your day, you’ll cough, spit, hack, gross people out and generally pollute the air of everyone around you. You’ll smell like an ashtray all the time. Your nails and teeth will be disgustingly stained a grotesque amber while your hair turns brittle and wiry.
I know that all sounds harsh, it’s meant to. You don’t have to be any of that. Smoking isn’t like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, you do have a choice to prevent that awful life I just described, it’s all in your hands.
So, if you haven’t started, don’t. And whether you’re a newly minted smoker or someone who’s been lighting up for years, we’d really like you to be around for a while. If you can’t stop for yourself, think about your loved ones — children, grandchildren, family, and friends.
Plus, do you want the young people around you to think smoking is a good idea? Of course not. Set the example for them and save yourself in the process. Beating an addiction to any drug is an incomprehensible battle for those of us who have no such leanings. But you can do it.
Fact: No one has ever died solely from withdrawal symptoms. You’ll get over it. It’ll take more than willpower, though, and the sooner you stop the better. I’ve often said, “Stop buying them, and you can’t smoke them.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not that easy, not by a longshot — but it’s certainly a good place to start.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communication, Ltd. More at geryldeer.com.