Harms of Cigarette Smoking and Health Benefits of Quitting
Encourage Responsible Drinking in Others
• Encourage responsible attitudes. Learn to express disapproval about someone who has drunk too much. Don’t treat the choice to abstain as strange. The majority of American adults drink moderately or not at all.
• Be a responsible host. Serve only enough alcohol for each guest to have a moderate number of drinks, and offer nonalcoholic choices. Always serve food along with alcohol. Stop serving alcohol an hour or more before people will leave. Insist that a guest who drank too much take a taxi, ride with someone else, or stay overnight rather than drive.
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• Hold drinkers fully responsible for their behavior.
Pardoning unacceptable behavior fosters the attitude that the behavior is due to the drug rather than the person.
• Take community action. Find out about prevention programs on your campus or in your community. Consider joining an action group such as Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) or Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
Nicotine can either excite or tranquilize the nervous system, generally resulting in stimulation that gives way to tranquility and then depression. Figure 13.4 summarizes the immediate effects of smoking.
In the short term, smoking interferes with the functions of the respiratory system and often leads rapidly to shortness of breath and the conditions known as smoker’s throat, smoker’s cough, and smoker’s bronchitis. Other common short-term complaints are loss of appetite, diarrhea, fatigue, hoarseness, weight loss, stomach pains, insomnia, and impaired visual acuity, especially at night.
Long-term effects fall into two general categories. The first is reduced life expectancy: On average, smokers lose about 14 years of life. The second category of long-term effects involves quality of life. Smokers have higher rates of acute and chronic diseases than those who have never smoked. The more people smoke, and the deeper and more often they inhale, the greater the risk of disease and other complications. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of all the following:
• Cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, hypertension, high cholesterol levels), lung disease (emphysema, chronic bronchitis), osteoporosis, diabetes, and many types of cancer (lung, trachea, mouth, pharynx, esophagus, larynx, pancreas, bladder, kidney, breast, cervix, stomach, liver, colon)
• Tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, colds, ulcers, hair loss, facial wrinkling, and discolored teeth and fingers
• Menstrual disorders, early menopause, impotence, infertility, stillbirth, and low birth weight (see the box “Gender and Tobacco Use”)
• Motor vehicle crashes (smoking causes a serious distraction) and fire-related injuries
When smokers quit, health improvements begin almost immediately. The younger people are when they stop smoking, the more pronounced are these improvements (see the box “Benefits of Quitting Smoking”).