Tobacco – The Legally Lethal


Out of all the substance abuse drugs, Tobacco the only legalized drug kills its users exactly the way intended by the producers. In a recent report of World Health Organization (W.H.O) indicates that tobacco use (smoking or smokeless) caused death of nearly six million people across the globe each year and many of which are premature. On top of that nearly 6,000,000 other people are estimated to die from the secondhand effect of the smoke. Apart from causing ill-health, disability and death from noncommunicable diseases tobacco increases the risk of death due to communicable diseases as well.

In force since 2005, the main objective of the WHO FCTC (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) is to protect present and future generations from the destructive influence of tobacco consumption and exposure on health, social, environmental and economic aspects. W.H.O. says that the tobacco industry has increasingly directed its marketing campaigns at women and girls. Indian women have now figured right on top in an infamous list of smoking. India estimates around 12.1 million female smokers more than any country except United States. The W.H.O. is calling on those governments to ban tobacco advertising to the fullest extent possible and do more to protect women. The agreement seeks to reduce the demand and supply of tobacco products.

How smoking affects

Nicotine, which is a pharmacologically the active substance in tobacco and carbon mono oxide from the smoke raise the level of fibrinogen, which acts as a blood clotting factor. On the other hand it lowers the HDL(High Density Lipoprotein) also called the “good” cholesterol. The high-level of fibrinogen makes the blood “sticky” and causes the lipids to accumulate to produce a plaque within the arteries. This plaque in turn causes narrowing of arteries. Narrow arteries reduce the blood supply to vital organs, such as heart and to muscles. The carbon mono oxide in cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen available in the body. Carbon mono oxide binds to the haemoglobin within the red blood cells, as does the oxygen needed for transport around the body when it leaves the lungs. Carbon mono oxide’s affinity for haemoglobin is up to 300 times greater than that of oxygen’s. Higher carbon mono oxide levels in the blood makes it difficult for oxygen to reach out for cells, affecting the heart muscles and other muscles that have a high oxygen requirement during exercise. The lack of energy production in the body decreases the exercise performance due to the interference of oxygen transport system by the carbon monoxide.

Smoking reduces your lung capacity and stimulates the production of mucus in the lungs. At the same point of time it hampers and destroys the hair like cilia in the lung that cleans out mucus and toxins. You are better able to exercise when your lung capacity is good and your lung functions well. Studies show that your body performs exercise more efficiently when it can get oxygen into your blood stream and bring it to your working muscles, where it is used in the metabolic processing of energy.

Smoking – the most preventable cause of premature death

There is no “safe” amount of smoking. Even the light smokers or occasional smokers damage their heart and blood vessels. Women who concurrently smoke and use birth control pills and smokers with diabetes are greatly at risk of heart attack and stroke. There can be exceptions like people staying healthy in spite doing everything wrong on the contrary to people maintaining healthy lifestyle getting heart attack.It does not mean that one should stop being careful and lead a healthy smoke free life.

Published By:-Dr. Dilip Kumar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist & Electrophysiologist
Chief Academic Co-Ordinator
Medica Institute of Cardiac Sciences
Medica Superspecialty Hospital, Kolkata, India

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