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Reasons to Quit Smoking

Why are cigarettes bad for you?

More than 4,000 different chemicals have been identified in cigarettes and cigarette smoke. Out of those 4,000 chemicals, 60 are known to cause cancer.

The amount of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) in U.S. brands is about triple that of brands from Australia, Canada or the United Kingdom. U.S. smokers get more exposure to this deadly carcinogen than smokers in other countries.

Even if it were just the tobacco to worry about more than 25 million pounds of pesticides are sprayed on tobacco crops in the United States each year, making tobacco the sixth highest out of all agricultural crops in terms of the amount of pesticides applied per acre, the General Accounting Office and CBS News reported.

The pesticides used in tobacco production have been linked to cancer, nervous system damage and birth defects, so when you volatilize these by lighting the cigarette, these chemicals can cause far more damage than the actual tobacco.

Here are a few of the chemicals in tobacco smoke, and other places they are found according to the American Lung Association.

Acetone – found in nail polish remover
Acetic Acid – an ingredient in hair dye
Ammonia – a common household cleaner
Arsenic – used in rat poison
Benzene – found in rubber cement
Butane – used in lighter fluid
Cadmium – active component in battery acid
Carbon Monoxide – released in car exhaust fumes
Formaldehyde – embalming fluid
Hexamine – found in barbecue lighter fluid
Lead – used in batteries
Napthalene – an ingredient in moth balls
Methanol – a main component in rocket fuel
Nicotine – used as insecticide
Tar – material for paving roads
Toluene - used to manufacture paint

Research has shown that cigarettes are "widely contaminated" with bacteria, including some known to cause disease in people. This may explain why smokers' respiratory tracts tend to contain higher levels of disease-causing bacteria. Of course, this may also be a symptom caused by weakened immunity, which is also common in smokers.

Smoking cuts your life short

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  on average, smokers will die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.

The American Cancer Society even reports that smoking cigarettes kills more Americans each year than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined, while other research has shown that just by smoking one pack of cigarettes cuts a smoker's life short by two hours.

Smoking ages you

Smoking causes wrinkles by upsetting the body's mechanism for renewing skin.  Smoking disrupts the body's natural process of breaking down old skin and renewing it. It's bad enough to die early, but the fact is cigarettes make us appear much older than we are.

Smoking may diminish the speed and accuracy of your thinking and bring down your IQ. The association was a surprising result of a study of more than 170 men that initially set out to examine alcoholism's long-term effect on the brain. While it was confirmed that alcoholism is associated with thinking problems and lower IQ, analysis showed that long-term smoking has similar effects.

The effects were most pronounced among those who had smoked the longest.

Smoking or exposure to cigarette smoke can be linked to an increased risk of hearing loss. The study, also suggests that nonsmokers who live with smokers are almost twice as likely to have hearing loss than those not exposed to smoke at home. About 30% to 35% of adults ages 65 to 75 have some degree of hearing loss. Smoking may contribute to hearing loss in a couple of different ways. Smoking suppresses the body's ability to repair damage to blood vessels including blood vessels feeding structures in the ear and also its ability to repair damage to tiny sound receptors in the ear called hair cells.

Second hand smoke effects everyone in your family

If you're not at all concerned about your own health, consider the effect smoking has on your kids and how it will make them more prone to pneumonia, bronchitis and other lung diseases.

An estimated 50,000 Americans lose their lives to secondhand smoke annually and 4 million youth (16 percent) are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes. A number of studies have indicated that animals, too, face health risks when exposed to the toxins in secondhand smoke, from respiratory problems, allergies and even nasal and lung cancer in dogs and lymphoma in cats.

A history of smoking on a daily basis is a risk factor for development of major depression, and depression of one member of the family often hurts others in the family.

A recent study from Harvard Medical School, published in the January 2009 Journal of Pediatrics, found additional health risks associated with what they termed “third-hand smoke,” describing the invisible yet toxic brew of gases and particles clinging to smokers’ hair and clothing, cars, and carpeting that lingers long after the second-hand smoke has cleared the room.

Third-hand smoke is what you smell when a smoker passes you by on the street.

The 2009 Harvard study found small children to be uniquely susceptible to this toxic residue, and the same can be said for your pets.

A Canadian study has suggested that it may take only one cigarette for some people to get addicted to nicotine, because of how their brains are wired. So think about this, do you want your friends and family to get hooked on cigarettes as well?

The bottom line of all this is you really have no choice but to quit if you're a smoker. What sane rationale can a responsible person use to keep smoking? It's better to face reality, and do the right thing now than to wait and wait for the list of health risks to grow and grow until it's too late. You're going to quit one way or the other. Do it now and live, or do it later six feet under. Your choice.

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