Smoking, health risk

HARARE - Smoking is an addictive and dangerous habit that is associated with a wide range of health risks, health experts have said.

Health analyst, Dr Edgar Mhizha said tobacco is aggressively marketed and is used worldwide. Many of the adverse health effects associated with smoking do not become apparent until many years after use, so many users do not recognize the true severity of the habit.

According to the international Lung Association, there are more than 600 ingredients in a cigarette that produce over 4 000 chemicals when burned.

Many of these chemicals are poisonous, and approximately 50 are cancer-causing.

Several of the chemicals in cigarettes are also found in other common products, such as rubber cement, rat poison, nail polish remover and rocket fuel, said the Lung Association report.

According to, there is a variety of diseases caused by cigarette smoking. Heart disease, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have been shown to be caused by smoking.

Mhizha added smoking can also cause a variety of cancers, including cancer affecting the lung, mouth, esophagus and larynx.

Smoking has been shown to be a contributing factor to the development of pancreatic, kidney and bladder cancers as well.

“Secondhand smoke increases the risk of asthma, ear problems, respiratory infections and sudden infant death syndrome in children,” he said.

“Smoking not only has adverse effects on internal organs but on outward appearance as well. Smoking causes discoloration and staining of the teeth and fingernails.”

He said dried smoke builds up in the mouth and causes bad breath as well.

“Smokers also experience hair apid aging and wrinkling of the skin.

“Due to the many effects of smoking on every part of the body, smokers tend to look and feel older than their actual age.”

According to researchers, smoking can also increase the risk of developing acid reflux.

Smoking can contribute to the aggravation of this condition in a variety of ways.

Saliva functions to protect the esophagus and help wash stomach acid back down.

Smoking can reduce and slow the production of saliva. It can also stimulate the production of more stomach acid and weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, which will allow stomach acid to travel up the esophagus more freely, states the research.

Mhizha said quitting smoking brings many benefits.

“Smokers who quit get the immediate financial benefit of not having to pay for cigarettes anymore.

“They also quickly notice an increase in the ability to smell and taste foods. Smokers who quit also gain health benefits, including a reduction in blood pressure, better breathing ability and a return to normal blood circulation, short-term withdrawal symptoms may include irritability, anxiety and weight gain,” he said.

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