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According to the WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2015 1 in every 30 Nigerians smoke cigarettes. This may seem like a small fraction but it is enough to impact our society because smokers are liable to die young. The reason being primarily because of the contents of the smoke inhaled. Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen cyanide (HCN), nicotine polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Some of these components can cause cancer and harm various organs in the body. Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) for example are know to be cancer causing and are found in some food products. The diseases associated with cigarette smoking are usually chronic diseases which lead to slow and painful deaths. some of the eventual effects of cigarette smoking on the lungs include

  1. Blackening of the lungs

    cigarette and lung

    The color of the lungs of healthy non-smokers is usually bright pink while the color of a lung term smoker is almost always dark, because of the gradual absorption of smoke particles by a population of cells in the lung(Macrophages). Although this can be seen as more of a hidden cosmetic issue, than a overt disease, the fact still remains that long term smokers have black lungs.

  2. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease(COPD)


    This is a disease common among among smokers, it is characterized by Chronic mucous laden cough, difficulty breathing and damage to the structure of the lung . According to a Nigerian study , One in every 5 smokers develop significant symptoms of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The end result of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is respiratory failure and that is a precursor to death.

  3. Heart disease


    Heart diseases are rampant among cigarette because some of the components of cigarette smoke such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which promote the hardening and narrowing of blood vessels and then increases the risk of strokes, heart attacks, heart failure and hypertension. As mentioned before Polyaromatic hydrocarbons can also be found in some food products.

  4. Lung cancer

    lung cancer in Nigerian smokers

    Perhaps the most freighting complication of Cigarette smoking is lung cancer. Cancer is a disease caused by out of control and rapidly proliferating cells of the body which take up space and energy and then impair the functions of the normal organs. The lung cancer gotten from cigarette smoking is as a result of years of chemical insult by the components of the cigarettes smoke. 90% of all lung cancers are associated with lung term smoking. Long term Second hand smokers are also at risk. Second hand smokers are people who inhale exhaled cigarette smoke from people close by. According to the american lung association 5 out of 10 people survive for at least 5 years if diagnosed and treated early, while only 1 out of 25 people survive up to 5 years if treatment is started late.

  5. Smoking in pregnant women


    Pregnant women who smoke put their child at risk of many complications such as retarded growth, heart defects and spontaneous abortions. This is usually as a result of a component of cigarette smoke called nicotine which naturally tightens blood vessels and will do so to the placenta there by limiting the blood flow and oxygen supply to the developing fetus .

In summary the pleasure of cigarette smoking does not come close to matching the risk of medical complications , which are most often life threatening.


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