Smoking Cigarettes: Addicting and Cancerous Mental Illusion!

Why cigarettes cause cancer, what are those poisonous ingredients? Why it is important to get rid of cigarette addiction as soon as possible? Why do most of the adolescents fall prey to cigarette smoking? Find all answers in this article by Padmanav Koushik

One of the inevitable and most prevalent addiction is smoking cigarettes. It is often seen in almost all the age groups above 15 yrs old. When a child attains his/her adolescence, he/she is quite prone to some deadly addictions to drugs like Nicotine or in some cases it advances to even heroine, mandrax, LSD, Cocaine etc or Alcohol.

Why adolescents are the most victimised ones? 

To answer this, we can correlate a famous proverb, “Little knowledge more dangerous than that of having no knowledge”. Relevantly, it’s the phase of life similar to the dawn of the day. It’s the intermediate between the known and the unknown. In adolescence a child grows up to be a teenager and he starts experiencing new things, new lives apart from the principles of their respective guardians. Also, they start learning new tactics of the society and they start meeting new friends. The college life, the hostel life and the new peer groups and company of friends heavily influence them to taste new things, experience the best and the worst feelings. At that time they are living in a fantasy that they are mature enough to pursue new things in order to get importance in their friends’ circle as at that age it is considered a “cool thing”. They could not grasp a single thing then because it’s the mind that controls their physical activities and the social activities as well and their minds are most undulating at that particular stage. Sometimes addictions are influenced by genetic practices but it’s not obvious as it just makes one prone to become addicted. The teenagers most commonly get into the grasp as they want to feel better, do better and also they get the influences from their friends and environment. They trust their friends more than their parents and logics. But the turning point is not getting into these stuffs but getting into the addiction. It is very hard when one gets addicted. Tasting something is not a bad thing but to get addicted to it can make this habit a parasitic life-partner. 

Here we are talking about Cigarettes. My topic’s headline seems quite ridiculous as I am claiming it as a mental illusion. Actually, it holds a logic in it. Illusions are those which often play with our minds. If our brain pre-assumes something, that pre-assumption becomes an illusional reality, which our brain and mind configures as the utmost truth. Cigarettes also play that game with our brain especially in the immature ones. When a teenager starts his smoking habit, the first day is always the worst one but that worst feeling starts converting to the best day by day. Starting with 1 puff, 2 puffs etc, one starts engulfing a whole pack of 10 cigarettes a day and also advances to 2 or 3 packs a day. At first smoking was their curiosity, after that it turns into habit and later on it becomes their necessity and it’s the deadline of smoking. Because up to a limit we smoke cigarettes after that cigarettes start smoking us. 

Let’s involve some science between our topic. The most heard excuses of a chain smoker is that it helps in relaxing one’s mind, motivates us and our mood to do something energetic, feels refreshed and active, helps with drowsiness and sleepiness etc. So is it true that only cigarettes help with that or there are also some other healthier options that can really help dealing with that? Yeah it’s true that there are lot more stuffs, one can take other than that of the lame excuse a smoker often makes to puff a cigarette. So let’s get started. 

Cigarettes contain Nicotine which is present 0.6% - 3% of the total dry weight of the tobacco and nicotine is a stimulant and potent parasympathomimetic alkaloid that is naturally produced in the Solanaceae family of plants. Nicotine has a role function as a receptor against (it binds to the receptor enhancing it to bind to a molecule) at most nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), except at two nicotinic receptor subunits (nAChRα9 and nAChRα10) where it acts as a receptor antagonist (it binds to the receptor inhibiting its binding capacity to a molecule). Nicotine is present from 1.5mg – 3mg on an average in every cigarette approximately on an average scale. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug that causes intense addiction and therefore there are certain withdrawal symptoms when a chain smoker quit smoking. Nicotine in a certain dose is then administered to that particular patient by various ways like nicotine gums, dermal patches and lozenges in order to keep this withdrawal symptoms away. 

It’s not only the nicotine that makes a cigarette harmful but there are also some other chemicals and substances that makes the cigarettes seriously deadly. 

A cigarette contains about 7000 chemicals when it is burnt and out of these about 60 or more are known to be carcinogenic or cancer causing. Some chemicals are mentioned below: 

  • Tar – One that is used to prepare the tarmac roads. It’s a sticky substance that gets collected in the lungs and can cause cancer.
  • Carbon monoxide- One that is emitted by most car exhausts.
  • Cadmium- found in batteries.
  • Arsenic- found in rat poison.
  • Ammonia- found in toilet cleaner
  • Radon- a radioactive gas
  • Acetone- found in nail polish remover
  • Polonium 210- A radioactive gas
  • Methanol- Rocket fuel
  • Hydrogen cyanide- poison
  • Butane- lighter fuel
  • Hexamine- found in lighter
  • Methane – found in sewer gas.

These are the chemicals that cause cancer. Besides this, there are again a lot more chemicals, which cause in cancer. 

Nicotine (C10H14N2) makes the cigarettes addictive and these chemicals are there to ruin our body. Nicotine is often said as a stress reliever, so let’s get into the depth of that topic. 

Nicotine is a stimulant, basically but studies shows that it too have a depressant effect when taken in very low doses. But a smoker never takes nicotine in low doses so it will always have a stimulating effect. It acts as a mood swinging chemical which often seems to alter moods. It do not practically relieves stress instead it increases the stress level but it is a momentary perk of happiness soon after smoking a cigarette that often deceives us to choose the wrong way of smoking. Nicotine stimulates in releasing a good feeling chemical called as dopamine in the brain which ultimately helps in relieving stress and provides good mood, happiness and relaxation. But it is quite momentary. The adverse effects of nicotine is that nicotine when is introduced inside our body plays a role in constricting the blood vessels and restricting the blood flow and thus the blood becomes devoid of oxygen. The oxygen scarcity in the blood demands for more oxygen for which a large amount of hard work is done by the heart by forceful pumping. Repeated exposure thus increases the risk of heart failure or any cardio-vascular diseases. 

What are the healthier and effective ways of relieving stress if one does not smoke? 

Yes, this is a very significant question. There are many physical ways by which one can release stress like meditation, yoga or daily exercise as it enhances the cardiovascular activities and increases the blood flow to the heart and provides free pure oxygen from the environment and thereby it reduces the cardiovascular diseases enhancing overall good health. 

Moreover, if one is so much obsessed with his work and tired cumbersome day he can switch to Caffeine, a much healthier drug than that of Nicotine, which has been proven to be a real stress reliever. 

Caffeine taken from certain stuffs or drinks are proved to be a healthier habit but up to a certain limit, crossing the line may cause harm. Earlier it was thought that caffeine is harmful to the heart but recent studies assures us that if it is not overdosed, then there is no connection between caffeine, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. We can get caffeine mainly from Coffee, chocolate or cocoa powder, tea and some certain caffeinated beverages. 

An average cup of coffee (100 ml) contains caffeine that ranges from about 90-96 mg. So as it is a much healthier choice than that of the nicotine and it also works as a stress reliever so let’s get into the depth of the mechanism how does caffeine work in our body.

Caffeine (C8H10N4O2) is a type of a psychoactive stimulant, which means it stimulates our brain to be psychologically active. Caffeine functions by traversing the blood brain barrier and it specifically binds to the adenosine receptors, now the matter of fact that these adenosine receptors are some neuro-transmitters which functions by inducing sleep in the brain. When a chemical called as adenosine binds to the receptor then the brain gets drowsy and the intension raises to sleep. As the person takes a nap or takes a sound sleep then the adenosine gets removed from the receptors making the binding sites free and thus the brain regains its freshness.

So caffeine has a tremendously similar structure to adenosine, which then binds to the adenosine receptors and also decreases the number of adenosine receptors in the brain. As the caffeine gets binded to the receptor there are no space left for the adenosine to bind which prevents the brain to get a drowsy feeling and the brain remains active. But a cup of coffee has a self expiring time. So generally after that time more adenosine receptors start popping in the brain which demands for adenosine molecules. So it’s the high time to get asleep or to recharge with another cup of refreshing coffee which will initially repeat the process.

Therefore, a person who is literally a coffee addict develops intense drowsiness as compared to the normal being if they have to survive a day without coffee because of the increased number of adenosine receptors. 

Caffeine also increases metabolism of energy throughout the brain and at the same time decreases the cerebral blood flow, which ultimately induces a relative brain hypoperfusion. Caffeine activates nor-adrenaline neurons, which results in the release of dopamine locally. Certain studies have shown that there are 2 types of adenosine receptors (A1 and A2A). A1 are thought to be wake promoting and sleep inhibiting and A2A are thought to be sleep promoting and wake inhibiting.

Caffeine also triggers the release of Adrenaline, which is also known as the fight and flight hormone of our body or also known as the emergency hormone. Certain studies have also proved the use of caffeine in case of headaches and migraines, which lowers the symptoms and severity in the body.

Now overdosing caffeine can really compel one to lose their lives but it is too far again. Because about 150 - 200mg/kg of body weight is harmful to a person. So, an average 80 kg person can take up to the dead-limit of 12000mg caffeine at a time if we consider the amount of caffeine as 150mg/kg. An average-moderate to strong cup of coffee literally contains about 100-120 mg of caffeine therefore a particular individual have to drink at least 120 or 100 cups of coffee respectively, which is practically not possible. He will be hallucinated much before crossing the deadline. So, it can be placed as a healthier and effective option than that of smoking a deadly cigarette. 

Cigarette smokers who get heavily addicted are more likely to give those lame excuses, which literally make no sense. Because above all, there is a logic which bears no logic. 

I want to request each and every cigarette smoker to please quit smoking and to choose a healthier way of living. Nothing is impossible and nothing is more precious than your own life. Moreover, a smoker not only harms himself but also contributes to the pollution of the surroundings, which eventually affects the greater mass. It is never late to quit smoking. You have the full right to live your life, that’s true but you have no right to destroy a human resource because it’s a resource for the world. So do not let your cigarette puff you up and lives of others around you in vain.

About The Author

Padmanav Koushik

Padmanav Koushik is a Fitness Youtuber @Zoonovation and Fitness science Blogger.
He has a Diploma in Human Nutrition (Alison), Certifications on Diet and Nutrition. He is c.... Read More..

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