Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death and ill-health in the world. It kills around 10,000 people per year in Scotland alone, and over 8 million people every year worldwide. This page aims to equip you with current and up to date information on the dangers of tobacco. For information on e-cigarettes click here.
It's never too late to stop. If you're wanting to quit smoking click here.
What is tobacco?
Tobacco starts life as a green leafy plant. It’s grown in farms in China, India, Brazil and the United States. Tobacco contains Nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive to humans and it is said that it is the most commonly abused drug.
After the green leaf has been harvested, it is then cured (dried) and processed into different tobacco products for use.
How is it used?
There are lots of different Tobacco products available worldwide. Some of these include; cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, snuff and pipe tobacco.
Tobacco can be smoked, heated, eaten, chewed and even snorted.
It is widely accepted that using smokeless tobacco (snuff, chewing) is less harmful to use. This is because a lot of the chemicals that cause harm to us are found in the smoke of the tobacco. But, smokeless tobacco is not without it's dangers and is still bad for your health.
What's in tobacco?
There are between 4000 and 7000 harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke. Roughly 70 of these chemicals are known to be carcinogenic; this means that they cause cancer.
Here are some of the chemicals found in tobacco smoke:
Smoking & The Body
When you smoke tobacco, the chemicals from the smoke are absorbed into your body through your lungs.
Smokers are at risk of developing many different health conditions, we will look into this more below.
This is Boab, at 16 he smokes a couple of cigarettes now and again. His lungs and heart are healthy. His teeth are clean and his tongue and mouth are free from disease. The nicotine has now started to cause him to crave cigarettes. His brain is telling him to smoke more cigarettes to fuel his addiction.
If we fast-forward 24 years in the future and catch up with Boab again, he is now a 20-cigarettes-a-day smoker. His teeth have become yellow and stained, his lungs are black with tar, his arteries are clogged which could lead to limb loss, a heart attack or even a stroke. Big Boab has now also found out that his sperm count is low.
Boab is also at risk of developing the following health conditions:
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
coronary heart disease
damaged blood vessels
cerebrovascular disease (damaged arteries that supply blood to your brain)
Nose and sinuses
Second Hand Smoke
Second-hand smoke or passive smoking is the smoke that comes off the end of a burning cigarette, and the smoke that comes out of a smokers lungs as they exhale (or breathe out) when smoking.
If you are in the same room or even house as someone who is smoking tobacco you are at risk.
People with chest and heart conditions, young children and babies are especially vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke.
Pets are also at risk from secondhand smoke. Even a little exposure to smoke can double a cat’s risk of Feline Lymphoma and can cause nasal cancer in dogs. Pets also sometimes eat cigarettes and other tobacco products causing nicotine poisoning which can kill them.
To protect other people around you, TAKE IT RIGHT OUTSIDE
How to quit smoking
If you decide to stop smoking, you will live a longer and healthier life.
Giving up smoking is not something you have to do on your own.
With support, you are 4x more likely to be successful to quit.
Within Lanarkshire you can access FREE Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), one to one support, group sessions and support from trained stop smoking specialists.
For more information, all you have to do is visit the Quit Your Way website.
What to expect when quitting smoking
The benefits of quitting smoking begin as soon as you put out your last cigarette. Have a look at the table below for a timeline of what to expect and when.
Because you are addicted to nicotine, your body and mind will begin to show some minor withdrawal symptoms when you stop smoking. These may be:
intense cravings for nicotine
tingling in the hands and feet
nausea and abdominal cramping
constipation and gas
It’s important that you try to distract yourself with something more beneficial than smoking if you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
This could be; exercising, meditation, getting some fresh air, watching a movie or playing a game.
The good news is that your cravings for nicotine will only last about five minutes, and will gradually reduce the longer you stop smoking.
National Tobacco Campaigns
Our partners at ASH Scotland run a number of great national tobacco information campaigns that you should be aware of.
Their website has lots of up to date information on everything to do with tobacco and e-cigarettes as well as future training & event dates.
We will outline some of their campaigns below which we have been part of in some way and have found to be excellent resources for working with young people.
Be Free Achieve More
This campaign is aimed at making young people more aware of the impact that smoking has on their lives. They could be better off financially, physically and mentally by not smoking.
There are some great resources available to order for free from ASH Scotland to display in your local area, youth centre or community centre.
For more information on #BeFree and to find out how you can get involved visit: https://www.befree.scot/
Scotland's Charter for a Tobacco-Free Generation
“Scotland’s Charter for a Tobacco-free Generation is an initiative to help reduce the harm
caused by smoking and deliver a tobacco-free generation by 2034.”
You can pledge your support to the charter alongside 350 other organisations in Scotland. Endorsing the Charter is a great way to help improve people's wellbeing and shows your commitment to making Scotland a healthier, wealthier place to grow, learn, play and work.
For more information and to find out how you can get involved visit: www.ashscotland.org.uk/charter
Have a look at the links below for further reading and information.
NHS SMOKE-FREE - https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree
ASH SCOTLAND - https://www.ashscotland.org.uk/
BE FREE - http://befree.scot
#NOTAFAVOUR - http://notafavour.scot
TOBACCO CHARTER - www.ashscotland.org.uk/charter
TALK TO FRANK - https://www.talktofrank.com/drug/tobacco
TRADING STANDARDS - https://www.tradingstandards.uk/news-policy/tobacco-control
QUIT YOUR WAY - http://quityourway.scot