Smoking Term Paper

This essay has a total of 1271 words and 6 pages.


Humans are the only species that have, “this urge”, to inhale harmful smoke
into their body. There are all types of smokers. Some smokers are casual smokers, who
only smoke in a social scene, other types of smoker are depressed/stressed smokes, who
smoke, because they feel that it relieves something in them, and finally there are
addictive smoker, who don’t know why they even started, but they can’t stop.
What these people don’t realize is that the harm they are putting their bodies
through. There are many risks of smoking, like lung disease, heart disease, and risks in
pregnancy to the unborn child.

Today it is known that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and death in
the United States. One researcher has described cigarette smoking as causing “a
chronic inflammatory disorder of the lower airways.”(Doll 901-911) When we breathe,
air enters the upper airway through the nose and mouth, where the air is filtered, warmed
and humidified. The inhaled air travels though the trachea to the lungs. Inside the lung
there is a main stem called the bronchus and little air sacs called bronchioles. (Together
it looks like a main stem with a bunch of grapes.) Oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide
in the blood; the blood then carries oxygen to all the body tissues. (Sherman 355) The
respiratory system has several built in safeguards to protect it against disease. The
filtering that takes place in the upper airway helps prevent infectious and irritating
substances from entering the lung. The trachea and the lung produce mucus, which helps
trap and carry away contaminants. These contaminants are moved through the lungs by
cilia, which are tiny hairs that beat rapidly back and fourth. When smoke is inhaled
through the mouth, smokers automatically bypass the first safeguard, the filtering action
of the nose. While smokers often produce more mucus in response to smoking, they are less
able than nonsmokers to move the mucus out of their respiratory system. This happens
because cigarette smoking paralyzes and eventually destroys cilia. It also changes the
makeup of the mucus-secreting glands and consequently the mucus itself. In addition,
mucus glands sometimes become plugged and less able to produce mucus. The end result is
that smokers' mucus, contaminated with potentially harmful substances, is more likely to
become trapped in the lung tissue. (Sherman 355) Smoking impairs lung growth and lung
tissue in children and adolescents. Another type of lung-growth impairment occurs in
smokers’ aged 20 to 40. During this stage of life, the lungs undergo a type of
growth called the plateau phase. This phase is shortened in smokers, which shortens the
time with which tobacco- induced diseases develop. Smokers who take up smoking at younger
ages are more apt to suffer smoking-related disease after shorter periods of time than are
smokers who begin smoking later in life. (Peterson 215-218)

Twenty percent of people who smoke get heart disease. Smokers in there thirties and
forties have a heart-attack rate that is five times higher than their nonsmoking peers.
Smoking lowers HDL levels (also called good cholesterol), causes deterioration of elastic
properties in the aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body, and increases the risk for
blood clots. Smoking also increases the activity the sympathetic nervous system, which
regulates the heart and blood vessels. The more a person smokes the higher the chance of
developing coronary heart disease and experiencing a heart attack. (Davis) In women who
smoke the risk for a heart attack is about 50% greater than in male smokers; researchers
speculate that tobacco smoke may increase cardiovascular disease in women through an
effect on hormones that causes estrogen deficiency. Quitting will rapidly decrease the
risk of developing heart disease, but long-term smoking may still permanently damage
arteries. Studies continue to confirm the dangers of second-hand smoke; one study reported
that exposure to second hand smoke is just as dangerous in the workplace as it is at home.
Regular exposure to passive smoke is now estimated to increase the risk of heart disease
in the nonsmoker by between 25% and 91%, causing 30,000 to 60,000 deaths each year.
According to one report nonsmokers who spend as little as a half-hour in a smoke- filled
room suffer a serious drop in blood levels of antioxidants, such as vitamin C, which may
be important for heart protection.(Whelan 26-32)

Studies have now linked cigarette smoking to infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and
Miscarriage. (Whelan 81) Women at greatest risk are those who smoke one or more packs a
day and who started smoking before age 18. Smoking increases the risk for stillbirth and
infant mortality by 33%. Smoking also appears to reduce folate levels; a vitamin that is
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