Smokers choosing ultra-light or low-tar cigarettes are reaching through a smokescreen. The cigarettes not only are as unhealthy as regular cigarettes, but also may pose even greater health risks.
How can light cigarettes be more detrimental to smokers?
Many light cigarette smokers don’t realize the filters have vent holes located millimeters from where smokers put their lips or fingers when smoking. As a result, many smokers block the vents, turning the light cigarette into a regular one.
Because smokers crave nicotine, they may inhale more deeply, take larger, more rapid or more frequent puffs; or smoke a few extra cigarettes each day to get enough nicotine to satisfy their craving. Through this “compensating,” smokers end up inhaling more tar, nicotine and other harmful chemicals than intended.
What should smokers know about all cigarettes?
Tobacco smoke is a complex mixture of 4,000 chemicals with more than 60 known carcinogens, or cancer-causing substances. Nicotine, while not a carcinogen, is the addictive drug in cigarettes. Manufacturers have made sure that cigarettes are the most effective tool to get nicotine to the brain, even faster than intravenously injecting the drug. Nicotine causes arteries to narrow, creating a short-term increase in blood pressure, heart rate and blood flow from the heart.
Cigarette smoke includes carbon monoxide, which reduces the amount of oxygen the blood can carry. This, combined with the nicotine effects, creates an imbalance between the cells’ demand for oxygen and the amount of oxygen the blood can supply.
How does nicotine in cigarettes increase the risk of heart attack?
Cigarette smoking can increase the risk of hardening of the arteries and heart attacks in several ways. First, carbon monoxide may damage the inner walls of the arteries, encouraging fatty buildup. Over time, this causes the vessels to narrow and harden. Smoking also causes several changes in the blood that make clots — and heart attacks — more likely.
What are the benefits of kicking the habit?
Stopping smoking offers these immediate and long-term health benefits:
* Immediately—Blood circulation increases, blood pressure and heart rate quickly improve and the carbon monoxide and oxygen levels in the blood soon return to normal.
* Within a few days—Breathing becomes easier, and the senses of smell and taste improve.
* Within two to three months—Lung function improves up to 30 percent.
* One year after quitting—The risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by 50 percent.
* Five to 15 years later—The risk of stroke is similar to that of a nonsmoker.
* Ten years later—The risk of developing lung cancer is 30 to 50 percent below that of a person continuing to smoke.
* 15 years later—The additional risk of heart disease is the same as someone who never smoked.
Where can I turn for help?
Western Baptist co-sponsors the Cooper Clayton Method to Stop Smoking, a series of 13 free classes. For upcoming dates, phone the Kentucky Cancer Program at (270) 442-1310.
How can I learn more about heart disease?
To learn more about the risk factors, symptoms and treatment for heart disease, visit westernbaptist.com/heart. You can take a free, five-minute online heart risk survey and become eligible for reduced-cost cardiac screenings at Baptist Prime Care. You also may phone Baptist Health Line at (270) 575-2918.