I interrupt your usual weekly blog post to bring you… an extra rant!
A warning that this will be a very serious, blunt and to-the-point rant. If you are a smoker and get offended by people telling you why they hate it, I am one of those people and I will offend you. Read at your own risk.
Smoking. I really hate it, more than the average person. You see, it not only impacts in the physical and mental health of the person smoking but also the physical, mental and emotional health of their friends, family and those strangers standing around them.
I probably don’t need to warn you about the extensive physical health problems attributed to smoking. Increased death of cells, increased likelihood of cancer etc. As a biology student, I know how smoking can negatively impact every single cell in our body; from those lining your lungs, to those that make up your blood, from the cells of your digestive tract, from your extensive array of nerves cells, to your bone cells. From head to toe, smoking attacks them all.
For those who are more worried about their looks more than their health, it will attack you too. Causing premature wrinkles, yellow teeth, thinner hair and bad breath that strong mints can’t even make go away. I can always smell the stench of a cigarette on someone’s clothing and breath even if it has been covered with a large amount of perfume.
Some people I’ve talked to about this issue argue that over-eating is just as bad as smoking; but I disagree. Yes, eating a large amount unhealthy food is bad for your health, but this food has some good in it too. Our body needs fat for protection and secondary energy use. Our body needs cholesterol to stabilise our cell membranes so we don’t just fall apart. Our body needs sugar and complex carbohydrates to use as a primary energy source and for cellular respiration. Plus, unhealthy food does contain calcium, protein and other vitamins and minerals that some of us are sorely lacking. Smoking has no such benefit. Every single thing that is put into a cigarette is bad for your health. In addition, when someone eats unhealthy food, they are only physically hurting themselves (if they are over-eating). The people in the area around them are not being harmed in any way.
For smoking however, this is not true. The health effects do not just impact on the smoker, they also impact on all those poor, passive smokers who didn’t hold their breath or were too kind to ask someone to stop smoking. These people not only breathe in the deadly smoke that smokers do, they breathe it in without a filter and once it’s come out of the infected lungs of a smoker. I won’t go as far to say that smokers are murderers, but they single-handedly play a part in the deaths of 600,000 non-smokers per year.
Now some smokers say that they smoke low-tar cigarettes so they’re not as bad, wrong. Tar is only one of the thousands of chemicals that hurt you in cigarettes. Low tar or not, they still kill. There are also those who wrap their own and say their not as bad, also wrong. Many of these don’t have a filter which means smokers are getting the full brunt of smoke. “Oh but I know what’s in them so it’s not as bad”, I hear smokers argue. Do you really know what’s in them? Cut open the ready-made cigarette and you’ll see the same leafy mixture as you put in your DIY ones.
Now for the mental side-effects. Most smokers smoke because they say it reduces their stress levels. But how is this possible when smoking increases your blood pressure? The ‘relaxing’ feeling smokers feel when they smoke is actually caused by nicotine addiction and the release felt when the addiction is met. Smoking itself actually increases anxiety and stress, and the feeling smokers feel when they smoke is a slight release of this feeling.
And what about the environment? If I had a dollar for every cigarette butt I’ve seen thrown on the ground I’d probably be a millionaire. I understand that not all smokers do this, but from what I’ve seen, most of them do.
Now, to the most important part of my argument. What a lot of smokers don’t realise is how selfish the act of smoking is. Even if they smoke only when there is no one else around it is still hurting their friends and family. It’s us who has to see them killing themselves. It’s us who have to wonder if we are so unimportant to them that they consider a smoking-related illness irrelevant. It’s us who have to hear the pained breathing of their dying lungs. Us who have to see them become prematurely aged. Us who have to smell their lingering smoke. Us who have to watch them suffer from a smoking-related illness. Us who have to mourn their death. And us who have to wonder if there was something we could have done to save them. It is us who suffer. We are being hurt more than some of us can bear.
So the next time you think smoking only affects the smoker, think again. Spread the message to ban smoking for good, and help raise awareness about the lesser-known facts of smoking.