Is Smoking an Addiction?

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Smoking has been linked to dozens of cancers, illnesses, and diseases over the last 30 years of intensive studies. The average cigarette contains anywhere between 3,000 and 7,000 chemicals, and every time you take a drag, those chemicals wreak havoc on your body.

It’s well-known that smoking is difficult to put down once you pick it up, but is it really an addiction?

smoking-ashtray
Ashtray; image source: pexels.com

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the effects of smoking and why smoking is so addictive. You might just be surprised at what you learn.

What Makes A Cigarette So Addictive?

The tobacco plant contains a chemical called nicotine, which is what gets your brain addicted to cigarettes. Nicotine is actually one of the world’s most addictive substances, alongside cocaine, alcohol, and barbiturates, and tobacco companies have taken advantage of this fact from day one. After all, if you’re hooked on their products, you could potentially become a life-long customer. And even if you decide you want to quit, they also have a hand in the cessation business, so they’re getting your money either way.

It’s a dangerous cycle that puts millions of Americans in the hospital every year and claims the lives of around 800,000 people directly or indirectly. What’s worse is that over the course of about five decades, tobacco companies have learned to genetically engineer their tobacco to contain nearly twice the nicotine; making cigarettes incredibly addictive and more deadly than ever.

Why do tobacco companies have so much power to do these things? The answer is simple: money. With an annual revenue stream in the billions, tobacco companies have plenty of leverage, even when the FDA would try to limit the amount of nicotine in cigarettes.

A Dangerous Habit

Everyone knows that smoking is a dangerous habit. And yet, millions of people all over the globe still partake of it. Let’s look closer at some of the damage that cigarettes can cause to the body to give you a better idea of what’s actually happening when you inhale cigarette smoke.

Lighting Up: the minute you light up a cigarette, you’re burning through about 7,000 chemicals, which then are released into the air around you, toxifying it. Anyone close to you is then exposed to those toxic fumes, and you’re breathing them directly into your lungs.

Mouth, Throat: Cigarette smoke is so damaging that it can cause wrinkles, skin problems, and damage throat and mouth tissue. Throat cancer is a common cigarette-related illness, and smokers tend to have poorer dental hygiene as well.

Lungs: exposing your lungs to anything but good, clean oxygen isn’t good, but inhaling 7,000 chemicals, including formaldehyde, arsenic, and heavy metals like lead, is deadly. The lungs are immediately affected by a drag from a cigarette, causing your alveoli to shrivel and making the gas exchange in your red blood cells more difficult. Not to mention, the tar coats your lungs and causes them to shrivel, seriously affecting healthy lung function.

Heart and Blood Vessels: Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s only the lungs that are affected by the habit. Your heart is also impacted, with rising blood pressure from smoking putting serious strain on the cardiac muscle, and causing your blood to thicken. This increases the risk of heart attack or stroke, and higher blood pressure can rupture vessels and wear them down quicker.

Advertising To Keep You Addicted

Tobacco companies spend billions of dollars every year to ensure you continue smoking (and to bring in new smokers and keep you away from tobacco alternatives). Studies have found that previous advertising efforts on the part of big tobacco have been geared towards children and adolescents, encouraging younger populations to pick up the habit.

While a large portion of cigarette advertising has been banned, there are still ways to get the word out, and the industry still spends billions every year.

A Threat To The Environment

One of the most impactful but least talked-about effects of the tobacco industry is that of its environmental impact. Cigarette butts account for nearly 85% of the world’s litter, and the industry itself is a driving force behind pollution, deforestation, and the dumping of hazardous chemicals into waterways and ecosystems.

Deforestation occurs to make way for massive tobacco farms to meet the needs of millions of smokers across the globe; to the detriment of every other living thing on the planet. The bottom line? Smoking is good for no one, not even the Earth itself.

The Bottom Line

The tobacco industry can’t hide the fact that its products are addictive, but it can certainly try to make them as addictive as possible and as appealing as possible so you’ll buy them. Remember that nicotine is highly addictive and dangerous, and cigarettes contain more chemicals than your household cleaners.

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Utilize alternatives like CBD oils or tobaccoless products to ditch the habit once and for all, and leave your addiction behind.

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