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Smoking is the second most dangerous legal addictive substance after alcohol. Tobacco use may lead to very serious, even lethal harm to health. When smoking a cigarette, the human body is exposed to several chemicals, and the ones listed on the cigarette box are only a fraction of those substances.


There are approximately 4000 chemicals in a cigarette, the addictive nicotine being only one of them. The most common forms of smoking these days are cigarette, pipe or cigar.


The adolescents do not have enough knowledge of the harmful effects of smoking and the upcoming difficulties if later they would choose to quit the addictive habit. The young tend to start smoking as an act of rebellion or show off. Friends influence teenagers much strongly than adults, therefore the attempts of parents, school, and health experts to prevent them taking on smoking usually have no success.


Furthermore, passive smoking is thought to be twice as harmful as active cigarette use. The X-ray image of an adolescent’s lung will be like a strong smoker’s if he or she grew up in a smoking family. Unfortunately, half of the Hungarian families are smokers and smoking is the cause of approximately 28 thousand of deaths in Hungary.


Health effects of smoking

Reported by the World Health Organization, smoking caused the death of 100 million people in the 20th century. According to the assessment of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) smoking is the most important preventable risk for human health and an important cause for premature death in the developed countries. The smoking rate in those countries is stagnating or decreasing, in the United States between 1970 and 2020 it dropped to the half (from 42% to 20,8% in adults). In the developing countries, however, smoking rate increases by 3,4% per year.


The most common effects of smoking are cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. It also increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), cancer (primarily lung, larynx, oral cavity and pancreatic cancer) and impotence in men. For women, it may be the reason of having an underdeveloped baby, too.


Smoking is harmful to human health not only internally. It leaves its signs on the exterior of the body as well and fastens aging process. Crowlegs and wrinkles around mouth and eyes appear more often on smokers. Their fingers and teeth tend to turn yellow, their breath smells like cigarette.


The connection of using cigarettes and other drugs is also well-known, but its nature is yet to be defined. The two main theories are the phenotypic cause-effect relationship (nicotine and smoking acts like a “gate drug”) and mutual inclination. The cause-effect relationship claims that smoking has a primary effect on future drug use, while according to the mutual inclination theory smoking and drug use has its roots in hereditary or environmental factors.


Quitting Smoking

It is not easy to quit smoking and easier to start smoking again. About 68% of smokers have the intention to give up smoking but only 3 of 100 succeed if using only willpower. The reason behind this ratio, according to medical research, may be that nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Those who wish to quit will face serious physical and psychological difficulties because of withdrawal symptoms. By smoking nicotine enters the brain, promoting the release of hormones dopamine and noradrenaline. As the body adapts to this, nicotine withdrawal may cause strong irritability and anxiety.


Quitting, however, has several methods. A lot of people try to use their own willpower, others seek for help. There are proven methods, usually a combination of different approaches such as behavioural therapy and medications therapy (e.g. nicotine replacement therapy, varenicline).


Behavioural therapy is available in Hungary as individual or group therapy and via telephone as well. This method may multiply the likelihood of successful quitting.


If you need help in quitting, go to:

or call the GREEN NUMBER: 06-80-44-20-44


Health benefits of quitting

After quitting, the risk of health damage declines substantially, although in variable time and extent. After 24 hours the regeneration of bronchi already starts. After 72 hours breathing noticeably eases, after half a year cough and difficulties of breath decrease.

The risk of a heart attack is halved after a year and after 5 years it is approaching the risk of non-smokers. The halving-time of risk for lung cancer is 5 years, and the risk approaches the risk of non-smokers in 10-15 years.


cigarette  |   nicotine  |   smoke  |   effect  |   quitting  |   intervention  |   pharmacotherapy
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