Nicotine addiction is deadly

It would really thunder strike anyone who can labor to calculate the cigarette consumption rate of a modest smoker. During my recent insight into the habit of cigarette smoking, I got a rather shocking revelation from a certain victim of nicotine addiction. Never mind his identity. He revealed to me that on a regular day, he consumes two packets of cigarettes.
Unidentified  smoking a cigarette around KCC. ( Photo /E. Mucungunzi).
Unidentified smoking a cigarette around KCC. ( Photo /E. Mucungunzi).

It would really thunder strike anyone who can labor to calculate the cigarette consumption rate of a modest smoker. During my recent insight into the habit of cigarette smoking, I got a rather shocking revelation from a certain victim of nicotine addiction. Never mind his identity. He revealed to me that on a regular day, he consumes two packets of cigarettes.

I was therefore tempted to calculate, and I found out that in a month he puffs 144 sticks and in a year, it goes to 14,400 sticks, which amounts to 720 packets a year.

Over 35 million smokers try to quit each year, yet less than 5 percent reach their one year anniversary. For these smokers, the key to stopping may seem elusive, but the facts of nicotine addiction are not a mystery.

The degree of cigarette smoking, however, thrives on other factors, for instance when an alcoholic is also a chain smoker, the consumption tends to shoot higher, according to a prolific smoker.

“When you are drinking beers, you can smoke non-stop until morning. You feel life is a bore when you are not smoking,” the 25-year-old smoker said.

He further went on to reveal that the craving for cigarette smoking tends to intensify mostly after meals, more so fatty foods like pork, barbecue and other meals rich in fats.

“After a heavy meal, the next thing you want is to smoke. Immediately, you feel life has come back,” he says. Another thing that boosts the craving, in the short run, is a smoker inhaling the smoke of another smoker.

“When you inhale the smoke, you just want to follow this person the whole day,” another chain smoker in Remera, James Karangwa says.

The habit of cigarette smoking is induced by addiction, medically called nicotine addiction. However this addiction takes place in the long run.

About 62 million people in the United States of America, ages 12 and older, or 29 percent of the population, are current smokers, according to a recent national household survey on drug abuse. This makes nicotine’ the addictive component of tobacco, one of the most heavily used addictive drugs in the USA.

Nicotine addiction is what drives a smoker’s into the habit of smoking. Unless he or she beats the cravings that come from nicotine addiction a person can’t beat the habit. Sadly, the reality of the dire side effects of nicotine addiction go a long way, to affect the non-smokers who inhale its smoke.

When a person inhales cigarette smoke, the nicotine in the smoke rapidly absorbs into the blood, and starts to affect the brain within 7 seconds. In the brain, nicotine activates the same reward system, as do other drugs such as cocaine or amphetamine, although to a lesser degree.

It increases alertness and enhances mental performance, perhaps this explains why most people involved with works requiring a lot of thinking and little sleep, smoke profusely.

Nicotine affects the cardiovascular system, and increases heart beat, blood pressure and also restricts blood flow to the heart muscle. This drug also stimulates a release of a hormone, epinephrine which further stimulates the nervous system.

Nicotine is also known for promoting the release of a hormone called beta-endorphin, which inhibits pain. People addicted to nicotine experience withdrawal when they stop smoking. This withdrawal involves symptoms like anger, anxiety, depressed mood, difficulty in concentrating, increased appetite, and craving for nicotine.

Most of these symptoms subside within 3-4 weeks, except for craving and hunger, which may persist for months. Besides nicotine, cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 substances, many of which may cause cancer or damage the lungs.

Cigarette smoking is associated with coronary heart diseases, stroke, ulcers, and an increased incident of respiratory infections. Smoking is a major cause of lung cancer and hypertension, according to Dr Butare Richard, a doctor at Kigali Central Hospital.

It is also associated with cancers of the larynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, and stomach and uterine cervix. Smoking has also been found to be the major cause of chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Cigar and pipe smokers and chewers of tobacco and snuff, can also become addicted to nicotine, although cigar and pipe smokers have lower death rates compared to cigarette smokers.

However, they are still susceptible to cancers of the oral cavity, larynx, and esophagus. Users of chewing tobacco and snuff have an elevated risk of oral cancer.

Women who smoke cigarettes normally have earlier menopause; pregnant women who smoke run an increased risk of having premature infants or infants with low birth weight.

Children of women who smoked while pregnant, have an increased risk of developing conduct disorders. Like addiction to heroin or cocaine, addiction to nicotine is a chronic, relapsing disorder.

A cigarette smoker may require several attempts, over many years before that person is able to permanently give up smoking. Less than 10 percent of unaided quitting attempts lead to successful long-term abstinence.

However, studies have shown significantly greater cessation rates for smokers, receiving interventions, compared to those who don’t receive interventions. The primary medication therapy currently used to treat nicotine addiction, is nicotine replacement therapy.

This supplies enough nicotine to the body to prevent withdrawal symptoms, but not enough to provide the quick jolt caused by inhaling a cigarette. The association of nicotine and depression is not yet understood, but nicotine appears to have an antidepressant effect in some smokers.

Just like how a small lit fire on to a dynamite makes it explode after some time, a lit cigarette stick also does the same harm to a human body after some time.

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