The Dangers of Smoke from Cigarettes

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4 pages /

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1653 words

Downloads: 30

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Cigarettes, with more than 480,000 casualties each year, is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. With each cigarette that’s lit, more than 7,000 chemicals are released into the air. This not only imposes a threat on the smoker, but everyone who breathes in the air around them. After becoming exceptionally popular in the 1980s, smoking cigarettes has become a worldwide epidemic. The aim of this essay is to educate younger generations about the dangers of smoke.

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Bryan Curtis, from St. Petersburg, Florida, was just 13 years old when he started smoking cigarettes. Little did he know that 20 years later he would be leaving behind his wife, Bobbie, and their two year old son. Bryan discovered he had lung cancer at 33 years old and passed away 47 days after his diagnosis – less than a month after his 34th birthday. Upon the realization that his addiction would soon be the cause of his death, Bryan began advocating to teens about the effects of smoking cigarettes. Once Bryan could no longer actively go out and advocate, his mother, Louise Curtis, began to speak on his behalf. Bryan and his family even chose to have an open casket funeral to show everyone the sad reality of smoking cigarettes.

A common misconception, especially among teenagers, is that taking just one hit will not hurt them. However, according to a report from the U.S. Surgeon General’s office and researchers from Keck Medicine at the University of Southern California, one hit is enough to cause plenty of damage. “Because tobacco has thousands of addictive chemicals that cause cancer, even a whiff of tobacco can adversely affect the body, the report found” (King After taking a puff of a cigarette for the first time, your nose and throat will become red and irritated and you’ll begin to cough. On top of the immediate intake of dangerous chemicals, you can experience discoloration of teeth, bad breath, and age spots. Even worse, you are exposing the body to the possibility of addiction. “Because nicotine is a stimulant, your brain will release feel-good chemicals or make you want to eat. When you don’t satisfy the urge, you will feel anxious and irritable”. So not only are you causing immediate damage to your body, but you are almost guaranteeing that you will develop an addiction to nicotine.

Along with the short term effects, habitual smokers have a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and many forms of cancer. In addition, smoking increases your risk of having a stroke. A stroke occurs when brain cells are damaged due to a lack of blood flow to the brain. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smokers are two to four times more likely to have a stroke than non-smokers. “Smoke inhaling damages blood vessels and can make them thicken and grow narrower. This makes your heart beat faster and your blood pressure go up. Clots can also form”. Another big risk associated with cigarettes is the development of COPD, or formally known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. As reported by the CDC, smokers are nearly 13 times more likely than non-smokers to develop COPD. COPD is a condition that involves the obstruction of the lungs in various stages. Some symptoms include shortness of breath, overproduction of mucus, and coughing. If you have asthma and you smoke on top of that, the cigarettes can worsen your attacks. Smoking cigarettes can also theoretically cause any parts of your body to have cancer. Common places for smokers to develop cancer include the lungs, bladder, liver, and stomach. “Smoking also increases the risk of dying from cancer and other diseases in cancer patients and survivors. If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the United States would not happen”.

When smoking a cigarette, the thousands of chemicals are not only affecting the smoker, but everyone around them as well. “Since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report, 2.5 million adults who were nonsmokers died because they breathed secondhand smoke”. Secondhand smoke can also affect children with asthma and can cause their asthma attacks to worsen. Secondhand smoke is extremely harmful to the cardiovascular system and can cause heart disease and strokes. “Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25–30%...Secondhand smoke exposure causes more than 8,000 deaths from stroke annually”. These numbers are extremely concerning, especially considering that nonsmokers are not choosing to breathe in these chemicals. Secondhand smoke also increases the chances of having a heart attack among nonsmokers. “Breathing secondhand smoke interferes with the normal functioning of the heart, blood, and vascular systems in ways that increase the risk of having a heart attack. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can damage the lining of blood vessels and cause your blood platelets to become stickier. These changes can cause a deadly heart attack”. In addition, those who already have heart disease are even more prone to these problems associated with secondhand smoke.

Many nonsmokers struggle to understand why people start smoking cigarettes to begin with, and why they won’t just quit. It is more likely for people to become addicted to nicotine when they are teenagers. This is due to the fact that the younger you are, the higher the risk you have of becoming addicted to nicotine. “According to the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report, (SGR) nearly 9 out of 10 adult smokers started before age 18, and nearly all started by age 26”. The physical and emotional effects of nicotine on the body are what keep the smoker hooked. As your body gets used to these effects, it will require you to smoke more to get the initial “buzz” the cigarette gives you. This is what makes it so difficult for people to stop smoking. Withdrawal symptoms can be as minor as headaches and dizziness, or can be as extreme as anxiety and depression. Quitting is especially difficult for those who use cigarettes to cope with mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. “If a smoker uses tobacco to help manage unpleasant feelings and emotions, it can become a problem for some when they try to quit. The smoker may link smoking with social activities and many other activities, too. All of these factors make smoking a hard habit to break”.

For many people, cigarettes are used to aid the relief of stress. The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) conducted research on care facility workers because of how emotionally and physically challenging their job is. “Workers who experienced conflict in both directions — that is, both stress at home from work (“work-to-home” conflict) and stress at work from personal issues (“home-to-work” conflict) — were 3.1 times more likely to smoke than those who didn’t experience these two types of conflict, the researchers found”. Although the research would have been more accurate if they had used a larger group, we can still get a good understanding of the positive correlation between stress and the amount of cigarettes a person smokes. On another note, many people who smoke cigarettes believe that this reduces their stress, when in actuality it does quite the opposite. “Research into smoking and stress has shown that instead of helping people to relax, smoking actually increases anxiety and tension. Nicotine creates an immediate sense of relaxation so people smoke in the belief that it reduces stress and anxiety. This feeling of relaxation is temporary and soon gives way to withdrawal symptoms and increased cravings”. This sense of relief is temporary and is just a side effect of the addictive chemicals.

What is really concerning about smoking is that it is highly preventable yet so many teenagers choose to develop such a risky habit. In a study published in 2012 conducted by Andrew W. Hertel and Robin J. Mermelstein at the University of Illinois at Chicago, they studied what kind of correlation there was, if any, between smoking escalation and smoker identity. “There was a unique relation between smoker identity and smoking escalation. The more that adolescents thought smoking was a defining aspect of who they were, the more likely their smoking escalated”. Their research showed that adolescents who felt like smoking was a part of their identity smoked more than those who did not. If a teenager tends to form their identity around smoking cigarettes, they are more likely to smoke more than those who do not.

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While smoking is detrimental to every organ in the body, some still find it difficult to quit the shameful habit. With all of the knowledge we have on cigarettes today and people, like Bryan Curtis, who share their stories, hopefully one day we can reduce the victims cigarette addiction.

Works Cited

  1. The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team. 'Why People Start Using Tobacco, and Why It's Hard to Stop.', American Cancer Society, 13 Nov. 2015, tobacco-and-cancer/why-people-start-using-tobacco.html.
  2. Feldscher, Karen. 'Home stress, work stress linked with increased smoking.', The President and Fellows of Harvard College, 12 Sept. 2012, nelson-work-family-conflict-smoking/.
  3. Hertel, Andrew W., and Robin J. Mermelstein. 'Smoker Identity and Smoking Escalation Among Adolescents.' Health Psychology, vol. 31, July 2012, pp. 467-75., doi:10.1037/a0028923.
  4. King, Heidi Tyline. 'What Happens to Your Body When You Take a Puff of a Cigarette?', Keck Medicine of USC, what-happens-to-your-body-when-you-take-a-puff-of-a-cigarette/.
  5. Landry, Sue. 'He Wanted You to Know.', edited by John R. Polito,, 15 July 1999,
  6. Mental Health Foundation. 'Smoking and mental health.', Mental Health Foundation, smoking-and-mental-health.
  7. Office on Smoking and Health, and National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. 'Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke.', U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 17 Jan. 2018, data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/health_effects/index.htm.
  8. Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. 'Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking.', U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 17 Jan. 2000, data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/index.htm. Accessed 15 Sept. 2019.
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The Dangers Of Smoke From Cigarettes. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from
“The Dangers Of Smoke From Cigarettes.” GradesFixer, 18 Mar. 2021,
The Dangers Of Smoke From Cigarettes. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Sept. 2023].
The Dangers Of Smoke From Cigarettes [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Mar 18 [cited 2023 Sept 21]. Available from:
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