Learn about Smoking & Tobacco
Tobacco itself is not a drug, but cigarettes contain nicotine which is a drug, and it is this ingredient that gets people hooked on cigarettes. Nicotine is a stimulant or upper drug which stimulates the central nervous system, increases blood flow and increases brain activity.
Smoking tobacco is a habit that affects one in four adults in Scotland, and over 2 billion people around the world. It is of course your choice if you wish to smoke, however it is a dangerous habit that can cause serious health problems to you and the people around you. Unlike other drugs, there are no harm reduction messages associated with smoking tobacco, and even smoking occasionally can increase your risk of developing smoking related illnesses.
In this section we will cover:
Myths & Facts
Many people believe that smoking calms and relaxes them.
Nicotine is in fact a stimulant drug; this causes your heart to speed up which raises your blood pressure, so it doesn’t relax you it only feels as though it does. Many smokers think having a cigarette when stressed helps them to relax, the fact is you’re only feeding your nicotine addiction and as soon as the nicotine wears off you’ll want another one, whether you’re stressed or not.
I don’t want to stop smoking as I’m scared I’ll put weight on.
The truth is once you stop smoking you will be much fitter and have loads more energy, which will make you want to be more active and maybe join the gym or take up a new sport.
Having the odd cig won’t do me any harm.
Even the odd cigarette can increase your risk of developing lung and heart disease.
Smoking & the Law
- It is illegal for any person to sell cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18.
- It is an offence to buy or attempt to buy cigarettes if you are under the age of 18.
- It is illegal to sell loose/ single cigarettes. If you do you could be fined up to £1000.
- Buying or attempting to buy cigarettes for someone under 18 is an offence and you could get a fine.
- It is against the law to smoke in public places eg, pubs, restaurants, trains etc. If you do you could be fined.
If a young person under the age of 18 is in possession of tobacco products or cigarette papers and refuses to give them over to a Police Officer or provide their name and address when requested, they are committing an offence. They could be fined up to £500 if convicted or given a fixed penalty notice of £50.
Second hand smoke / Passive Smoking
Second hand smoke or passive smoking is when a non – smoker breathes in smoke from someone else’s cigarette. Second hand smoke or passive smoke contains a mix of over 4000 toxic chemicals, with more than 40 of these being known cancer causing chemicals.
Second hand smoke is made up of two types of smoke:
Mainstream smoke – is what a smoker takes in when they take a draw of a cigarette. When a smoker breathes out, a non-smoker is exposed to their smoke, which they then pass through their lungs.
Side stream smoke – is the smoke which is breathed in by a non-smoker, this smoke comes from the end of a smokers burning cigarette.
Long Term Risk
Second Hand Smoking isn’t just a nuisance, it kills – long term exposure to second hand smoke increases the risk of –
- Developing asthma/ asthma attacks
- Developing respiratory symptoms such as coughing/ wheezing as well as glue ear
- Cot death
- Developing lung disease by 24%
- Developing heart disease by 25%
- Having a stroke by 82%
Risk To Children
Children are more at risk to the dangers of second hand smoke because –
- Their lungs are smaller and are still developing
- Their immune system is still developing
- They breathe quicker taking in greater amounts of the toxins
- Babies and young children are unable to walk away from ‘smokers’
- Smoking in the home is responsible for 17,000 hospital admissions each year for children under 5
- Think of your friends and family; your younger brothers and sisters getting all that second hand smoke into their lungs. Is that really healthy for them?
Risk To Pets & Animals
- Pets are also at risk from secondhand smoke. Even small amounts can double a cat’s risk of Feline Lymphoma.
- Second hand smoke can cause nasal cancer in dogs. The toxins from cigarette smoke lies on their coats and is absorbed into their skin when grooming.
- Pets also sometimes eat cigarettes and other tobacco products causing nicotine poisoning which can kill them.
How to protect the people you love from passive smoking –
- Don’t smoke indoors (or in your car)
- Ask others not to smoke in your home or car, ask them to go outside
- If they must smoke indoors ask them to smoke in one room only, open the windows and close the door
- If someone is smoking near you, walk away from them and go into to another room.
Effects of Smoking on Our Society
Smoking doesn’t only affect those who smoke and the people around them. It affects everyone in society. If you choose to smoke that’s your choice, but it’s not only you that pays the price.
- Smoking costs the NHS around £2.7 billion a year for treating diseases caused by smoking. This includes the costs of hospital admissions, and visits to your GP. The government also pays for sickness benefits to people who can’t work because of illness’s brought on by smoking, widows’ pensions and other social security benefits to those who are left behind when a smoker dies.
- In order to grow more tobacco, trees have to be cut down which damages the environment
- There are millions of tobacco farmers worldwide. The tobacco companies pay them very little money which means they live in poverty.
- Using more fertilisers and pesticides to grow tobacco damages the environment
Cost of fires and damage to buildings caused by careless smoking –
- Higher numbers of accidents – fires in people’s homes from cigarettes left unattended. Accidents in cars where people are smoking and not paying attention to the road.
- Scotland, 2009: at least 54 out of 131 house fires were started due to smoking.
- Every year 1,000,000 fires are started worldwide by children using lighters.
(All of the above figures sourced from ‘Scotland Together a study examining fire deaths and injuries in Scotland (2009)’)
UK Litter Figures
- 22 tons of cigarette butts and cigarette packets are dropped every day in the UK.
- Every day UK smokers throw away about 200 million cigarette butts.
- It costs the UK government around £370 million a year to remove cigarette packets from our streets.
- Cigarette filters have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales and other marine animals who mistake them for food
Smoking & the Workplace
- Each year about 34 million work days are lost in England and Wales through sickness absence caused by smoking. In Scotland those sick days cost employers £400million per year.
- Smoking results in less work being done caused by smoking breaks and more sick days amongst smokers due to ill-health.
Are you hooked? – spot the warning signs
(When answering the last 4 questions think of a time when you tried to stop smoking or hadn’t had a cigarette for a while.)
- Have you tried to quit smoking but found it too hard? Yes/ No
- Do you only smoke because you find it too hard to stop? Yes/ No
- Do you think you’re hooked on cigarettes? Yes/ No
- Do you ever crave a cigarette? Yes/ No
- Have you ever felt like you’ve really needed a cigarette? Yes/ No
- Do you find it hard not to smoke in places you shouldn’t, like school? Yes/ No
- Did you find it harder to concentrate? Yes/ No
- Were you more irritated? Yes/ No
- Did you find yourself desperate for a cigarette? Yes/ No
- Did you feel nervous, restless or anxious when you couldn’t smoke? Yes/ No
If you answered YES to any of the questions above then you might already be hooked on nicotine. When you’re addicted your body starts to have cravings, which make it harder to stop.
Want To Quit?
Here’s How You Can…
NRT… What’s that?
Nicotine Replacement Therapy are products that a smoker can use to help them quit when they feel they are ready. These are available to anyone age 12 and over and are normally prescribed by a smoking cessation worker, but are also available through your doctor and some local pharmacies. NRT works best and has a higher success rate when you also get professional advice and support. Many people don’t use NRT properly; they don’t pick the right product for them or don’t take enough of the product. That’s why it’s important to get some support and not try quitting on your own!
How does it work?
- NRT products release nicotine into the body (about half the amount they would get from cigarettes)
- It takes the edge off cravings and withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and irritability and makes you feel a bit better helping you to keep on going
- It is better for you than smoking cigarettes as you do not get the harmful chemicals that are found in cigarettes (there are over 4000)
- By using NRT you can double your chances of quitting smoking, and by getting professional help, you are 4 times more likely to quit smoking.
Examples of NRT products
- Nicotine patches
- Nicotine gum
- Nicotine lozenges
- Nicotine inhalator
- Mouth spray
Benefits of quitting
Timeline of health benefits after stopping smoking…
Blood pressure and pulse return to normal
Nicotine & CO levels in the blood are halved, oxygen levels return to normal
CO is eliminated from the body, lungs begin to clear tar
Nicotine gone, taste & smell begin to improve.
Blood pressure and pulse return to normal
Circulation improves, making it easier to exercise
Skin appearance improves
Cough, wheezing, and breathing problems improve and lung function increases by up to 10%
Risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker
Risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker
Risk of heart attack falls to the same level as someone who has never smoked
Other benefits of stopping smoking include the following:
- You will have more money in your pocket
- You are likely to feel good about yourself.
- You’ll get less colds and chest infections.
- The smell of stale tobacco goes from your breath, clothes, hair, and face.
- Food and drinks taste and smell much better.
Tobacco & Cannabis
Ever heard of rolling a joint…?
- Did you know Cannabis can contain more than 400 chemicals? Put this together with a cigarette and you’re putting over 4400 chemicals into your body.
- Cannabis is a Class B drug which means it is illegal to use and to have on you. It can make you feel happy and relaxed or ‘stoned’, but it can seriously affect your concentration and your ability to learn and take things in. Cannabis can affect your mental health as it can make you feel down and paranoid.
- For more information on cannabis see the Alcohol & drugs page
Chemicals found in a cigarette
There are over 4000 chemicals in a cigarette. Here are a few of the more dangerous substances that are hiding in there.
Ammonia – Ammonia is also found in toilet cleaner
Acetone – Acetone is also found in paint stripper and nail polish remover.
Arsenic – Arsenic is also found in rat poison
Acetic Acid – Acetic Acid is also found in vinegar
Butane – Butane is also found in lighter fuel
Cadmium – Cadmium is also found in batteries
Cyanide – Cyanide is also found in gas chambers
Carbon Monoxide (C0) – Carbon Monoxide is also found in exhaust fumes
DDT – DDT is also found in insecticides
Formaldehyde – Formaldehyde is also found in embalming fluid
Hexamine – Hexamine is also found in BBQ lighters
Methanol – Methanol is also found in rocket fuel
Nicotine – Nicotine is also found in pesticides
Radon – Radon is also found in radioactive gas
Tar – Tar is also found in road surfaces
Toluene – Toluene is also found in industrial solvents
Illicit tobacco is tobacco which has not had duty(tax) paid on it and has normally been smuggled in from another country or illegally produced. There are 3 sources of illicit tobacco:
- Smuggled – usually this is part of large scale organised crime which results in the illegal transportation, distribution and sale of genuine tobacco products. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs report that smuggled tobacco accounts for 70-80% of illicit cigarette imports.
- Bootlegging – This is a form of smuggling carried out by gangs of criminals. The products are purchased from countries with low levels of taxation (such as Eastern Europe) and brought back into the UK for sale.
- Counterfeiting – This is where illegal copies are made of tobacco products and their packaging. Typically, the tobacco products are made from inferior materials with the final product being made to look like genuine brands. Most counterfeit products come from Eastern Europe or East Asia.
(Trading Standards Tobacco Controls)
Counterfeit Cigarettes (fake fags)
The dangers of fake cigarettes:
- They can contain up to 75% more tar
- 28% more nicotine
- 63% more Carbon Monoxide
- They may have safety warnings on them written in a foreign language or no safety warnings at all
- Can have spelling mistakes and changed logos
- Sold at car boot sales, markets, on the street or in pubs
- Sometimes low quality packaging, but mostly they look exactly the same as a real packet
- If you’re already a smoker then you will notice they taste different
- They are normally cheaper in price
What’s inside a fake cigarette?
These can include many different substances to bulk them out. Such as..
Landed have several resources available to help teach young people about the dangers of Smoking & Tobacco, if you are an organisation you can view our products by visit our shop page or contact us directly if you wish to discuss more customised orders. If you are based in Lanarkshire you may be able to get our resources for FREE.
If you are under 25 & live in the Lanarkshire area you can access a copy of our Smoking information booklet “Cigs” FREE OF CHARGE. Simply get in touch through the Contact page or call 01698 269872 to claim your copy