Sunday, 6 May 2012

Trying to quit smoking

This is going to be a rather unusual post on this blog, but I decided to drop down a few words, as I may find reading them in the future helpful & inspiring.

I am a smoker and I smoke roughly a pack to a pack & a half a day, which, by man, is considered quite a lot. In this blog post I will try to establish, for myself & others, the benefits & drawbacks of smoking, based entirely on my opinion, so you are more than welcome to judge & criticise. I suppose, being human, it is always easier to find the negative sides of things with more of an ease, so I shall begin with that...

Negatives of Smoking:

1. May cause Emphysema, which is a disease characterised by shortness of breath, wheezing & increased breathing rate. The way this is caused is by inflamation of the lung tissue, causing phagocytes to appear in the area. They release an enzyme which destroys elastin, which helps alveoli expand & recoil during respiration. Loss of elastin means that alveoli can't expel all the air out of the lungs, so there is trapped air in the the thorax. In other words, with regards to Fick's Law of Rate of Diffusion, this would mean increased distance pathway & decreased concentration gradient, hence lower speed of diffusion, causing respiration to longer be a passive process, it has become voluntary & people with emphysema force themselves to breathe. Indeed, it doesn't sound like a positive outcome, does it..? No.

2. Prolonged exposure to tobacco fumes or polluted air may cause fibrosis & lung cancer, which we are all familiar with, thanks to the studies in the 90s about asbestos in wall paint causing cancer. Again, another serious drawback.

3. Destroys skin elasticity & causes premature aging of the epidermis. Yup, all those dark spots, red patches, blotches of discoloured skin we see on old smokers, it's all due to smoking & tobacco fumes.

4. Discolours your nails, causing them to be yellow-tinted.

5. You "smoking hand" smells well... If I have to be honest, I like the way it smells, but this may be due to prolonged exposure to smoking. I do remember not being particularly drawn to the smell when I was 5-6 years old.

6. Overall bad smell. I never understood that point. Every non-smoker always tells me "you've been smoking, you reek!" I suppose I will have to take it for granted, as I never sense the smell myself.

7. Having a last cigarette before bed & lighting a cigarette first thing in the morning contribute a lot to a bad morning breath. My boyfriend once told me I could melt concrete with it. As for overall bad breath throughout the day... I can't really give you my input, as I always carry breath spray & chewing gum on me, so I am prepared.

8. Decreases the rate of circulation in blood vessels. This may cause symptoms such as initial stages of hypothermia (cold limbs), dry skin on your limbs, discolouration of the skin (fingers & finger nails may become slightly blue-tinted, due to increased concentration of deoxygenated blood in your veins & decreased concentration of oxygenated blood in your arteries), desensitised areas of the body (decreased sensitivity of fingers, toes etc).

9. Hair loss. Some researches suggest that smoking causes hair loss. I have looked into it and I do see a positive correlation. However, having done courses in biological statisctics, I am inclined to say that correlation does not prove causation. There could have been other factors influencing the research results, such as genetic predisposition to hair loss, increased stress levels, high exposure to radiation, taking of drugs such as Adriamycin, Adrucil, Bleomycin etc (usually prescribed to patients in Chemotherapy), as they inhibit cell division, thus reducing the numbers of proteins being synthesised, hence hair loss.

10. Reduced circulation & decreased sensitivity (see point 8) may mean that we men may suffer from inability to ejaculate during sex, reduced firmness when sexually aroused, and in the long run - impotency.

11. Social awkwardness: You have to agree with me, it is not always adequate to be sitting around the table with your friend and all of a sudden, you inform everybody that you are going to walk away for a few minutes to have a cigarette. The social awkwardness is obviously reduced, when you are not the only smoker in the group, but for the sake of this argument, let's assume it's a worst-case scenario.

Positives of Smoking:

1. You always meet new people at a party when you walk out to have a cigarette. Of course, that doesn't justify smoking, otherwise, following the same train of thought, it would be okay to do illegal substances, simply because others do it & you may want to make friends.

2. A meal simply doesn't feel finished without a cigarette afterwards. A cigarette takes away the feeling of bloatedness and fatigue one may feel after a heavy meal.

3. The morning coffee's best friend? Cream? No. A cigarette, of course. Those two go hand in hand, just try to deny it!

4. There is a great controversy about the emotional effect cigarettes have on us. Most smokers would agree that when in a stressful  situation, lighting a cigarette calms them down. However, scientificly speaking, tobacco & nicotine excite one's organism. I always take the scientific approach when tackling an issue, but that would mean there is another explanation for the emotional relief we feel when/after having a cigarette. I suppose we make a subconscious link between the two and calm ourselves down automatically when smoking.

5. A cigarette after sex? Yes, please! However, you would have to make that extra trip to the bathroom to brush your teeth AGAIN, if you would like to cuddle & kiss afterwards, provided your partner does not enjoy cigarette smell.

Well, there you have it. That's everything I could come up with and I am proud to say I did not light a single cigarette while writing this, as I usually do when being in a creative mood.
I have to say, having a 2:1 ration in favour of Cons of Smoking does make one realise all the drawbacks of smoking. Wish me luck in my attempt to stop smoking and I will try to keep you updated along the way.


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