How Much Is Your Life Worth?
Tobacco Myths

I was shocked to see a recent article on the front page of the Laconia, NH Citizen written about two local tobacco products stores. The article quoted the owners as saying in effect that there were safer and better forms of tobacco; that there were safer, better and less costly forms of smoking. There is no safe form of tobacco!  There is no cheap form of smoking!

All tobacco contains nicotine. All nicotine is a narcotic as addictive as heroin and crack cocaine.  Tobacco also contains over 50 chemicals that have been proven to cause cancer, emphysema, asthma, strokes and many other respiratory and cardiac problems. It does not matter whether you smoke tobacco in a machine-rolled cigarette, a hand-rolled cigarette, a cigar, a pipe, or chewable forms.  It does not matter whether the tobacco comes from South Carolina, Europe, Asia, Africa or South America.  It does not matter whether it is high quality, middle quality or low quality tobacco.  All users of tobacco will suffer adverse health consequences.

For one third of all smokers that adverse health consequence will include premature death. The only minor differences are which health consequence will affect which user.  If you know a smoker that doesn't have a health problem then they are a very lucky minority and their clock is still ticking.

If you smoke, any type of smoking, or chew - you have very high risks of lung, throat, mouth, nose and heart problems and/or lingering death.

If you smoke you also increase the likelihood that your spouse and children will have smoking related problems including cancer, asthma, colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, chronic coughs, ear infections, and reduced lung functions.

Any cigarette advertised as ``natural" still contains the single most dangerous ingredient:  tobacco.  There is no safe form of tobacco.  Many people who smoke pipes, cigars or filtered cigarettes mistakenly believe that these are somehow being ``safer".  This is false!  The type of tobacco delivery system does not affect the amount of nicotine,  tar, or smoke consumed.  Because nicotine is a narcotic, the body will work to maintain whatever level of nicotine is required.  Filter cigarettes are often smoked more, harder and longer. They often cause more not fewer lung problems.  Often cigar and pipe smokers will unconsciously inhale smoke, whether they mean to or not, in order to meet their hourly drug need. In all cases smokers are also breathing their own second-hand smoke.  So even if they don't directly inhale every time they are still going to get the tars and nicotine through secondhand smoke.  Furthermore, even one or two cigarettes or cigars will have severe health effects.

The most die-hard smoker will say what does it matter "I will die anyway."  However,  smoking will guarantee that on average you will die 5 to 9 years younger.  Even if you are ready to chop off a decade it isn't that simple.  Smokers for the most part die very slowly and very painfully.  Emphysema can last for years and cost tens of thousands of dollars a year.  Emphysema is like trying to breathe through a straw, under water, and no way to find the surface.  Emphysema is like slowly drowning in your lungs - this goes on for years.  There is another even sadder consequence for families of smokers: watching a spouse or a parent die for years is very painful.

So once more, there is no safe form of tobacco!

Some seem to think smokeless tobacco - chewing tobacco - is better because the nicotine is not entering your mouth on a flaming cloud of 1200oF smoke.  The chewer still have very high risks of cancer of the throat or mouth, heart disease, and/or high blood pressure.  Chewing tobacco causes bad breath, decreases taste and smell.  Chewing tobacco contains just as much or more nicotine than other forms of tobacco.  Chewing tobacco greatly increases the likelihood of periodontal disease.

Is smoking truly relaxing?  No. First, deep breathing will relax you regardless of whether or not you are smoking.  But if you deep breathe without a cigarette you will not be damaging your health more than you are helping it.  Second, if you sit down, ``back off", take a walk during a cigarette break, you will relax just because you removed yourself from the stressful situation.  The third and most important reason, a smoker feels smoking or chewing is relaxing called ``getting a fix". Nicotine is a narcotic. Within five to ten minutes of the last smoke or chew, the body begins to have drug withdrawal symptoms.  These symptoms include anxiety, restlessness, tension and stress. These symptoms increase in severity the longer the next hit of nicotine is delayed.

The first drag of a cigarette is very relaxing because smoking and chewing are extremely efficient drug delivery systems.  Smoking and chewing deliver nicotine to the brain faster than the needle does heroin.  The mouth, nose and throat are able to transmit the nicotine to the brain almost instantly.  Thus, the body begins to feel a ``relaxation" of  withdrawal symptoms within 2-3 seconds.  So make no mistake about it, a smoker's relaxation is simply another indication of how addicted their body is to smoking or chewing.  So once again, there is no safe form of tobacco and no safe method of inhaling or ingesting it.

Parents, if you smoke your children smoke.  First they smoke through your second-hand smoke. Finally, they will smoke through their own uptake of the habit.  Children watch what we do not what we say.  Mothers, if you smoke when you are pregnant, your baby smokes.   If you sit in a room with smoke then at the end of an hour you have smoked several cigarettes too.  You have inhaled not just the tar and other cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco but the nicotine as well.  If you work or spend time in a bar or restaurant with smokers, you have greatly elevated risks of heart disease, cancers, COPD, bronchitis and emphysema.  Again, there is no safe form of tobacco!

Finally, the notion that there can be ``cheap" forms of tobacco use is simply not true.  Not only will the average pack a day smoker now spend over a thousand dollars a year but there are many other costs as well. The average smoker destroys hundreds of dollars worth of upholstery and clothes.  They cost employers more money in sick time and medical bills.  Smokers are much more likely to be sick and for longer periods of time.  Smokers rain down a constant litter of non-biodegradable butts and tobacco packaging.  Cigarettes are one of the top ten causes of domestic fires. Children playing with matches is another.  The tar from cigarette smoke tar coats the ceilings, windows and furniture which requires more cleaning.  Finally, in terms of personal cost, many smokers want to quit but feel an on-going sense of guilt and low self-esteem over their inability to do so.

One last time, there is no safe or cheap form of tobacco.

Written by the author of this website: David Stamps