Stop The Puff: How smoking, e-cigarettes, and vaping affect your body

By Brett Benton on Oct 25, 2016

More than one billion people in the world, and more than 40 million people in the United States smoke cigarettes every day. It's no secret that smoking is bad for your health, but many would argue that non-tobacco smoking products like vapes or e-cigarettes have different effects on your body, and that these products don't affect the people around you. These are common beliefs, but more and more research is suggesting that they are wrong.

Smoking can lead to serious life-threatening diseases such as cancers of the kidney, throat, esophagus, pancreas, stomach, cervix, ovaries, breasts, and most common, the lungs.  According to the American Lung Association, smoking is accountable for 80 percent of lung cancer deaths in women and 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men. The number of chemicals that are found in tobacco roughly equates to 4,000. The main chemicals are nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar. 

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that has serious side effects such as an irregular heartbeat, chest pains, severe rashes, swelling, and even seizures.

Carbon Monoxide is a highly toxic gas that binds strongly to hemoglobin, a red protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood. Once carbon monoxide binds to your hemoglobin, it will take the space available for oxygen in the cell. Eventually, your blood will lose all of its ability to transport oxygen, and you will suffocate.

Tar  is a sticky residue that is extremely dangerous for your body. Not only does it stain your teeth and fingers, but when it’s inhaled, it creates a yellowish film on the inner layers of your lungs. This prevents your lungs from working at full capacity and can lead to shortness of breath or even suffocation.

In 2003, the first e-cigarette, a non-tobacco smoking product, was created to save money and lower the risk of toxic chemicals typically found in traditional cigarettes.  Although there are fewer chemicals in e-cigarettes, these products still contain nicotine, a addictive substance that can cause very serious side effects. According to the FDA, e-cigarettes, vaping pens, and hookahs have all tested positive for detectable levels of toxic cancer-causing chemicals. E-cigarettes may seem less safe than normal cigarettes, but they still contain many of the same hazardous chemicals. 

With the number of smokers increasing in the past 50 years, there has been a significant increase in second-hand, smoke-related health problems. Second-hand smoke happens when smoke enters the lungs involuntarily from tobacco-related products being used by others. This involuntary entrance into the lungs has led to more than 7,330 deaths from lung cancer and 33,950 deaths from heart disease each year. According to the American Lung Association, this equates to around 2.5 million preventable deaths in the last 50 years. 

Adults, teenagers, and children die every year from second-hand smoke. Your next exhale could be the death of someone around you. With many people realizing they need to quit for their health, there has been an increase in availability of resources to aid people in quitting for good. The American Lung Association has listed steps to help aid the process. First, know your reason for quitting. Second, talk to your doctor for tools to help you can stop smoking. Third, use help lines and groups for support. Lastly, stay proactive while quitting and thereafter. Don’t put yourself in temptations way. Live a healthier life and stop smoking today.