Help Your Kids Say No to Tobacco

by Minh Nguyen

Most of us understand the serious consequences of tobacco use. Tobacco products are the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, resulting in about 400,000 deaths per year. Many adults, who generally take their health more seriously than teenagers, try to quit smoking or reduce the amount of tobacco they use.

An overwhelming majority (80 percent)of adults who currently smoke say they started before the age of 18. And this trend is not changing. Every day, 3,000 youngsters become regular smokers.

Children, who tend to have a "nothing can harm me" attitude, largely ignore warnings and smoke without worrying about the consequences. And even if you teach your children that smoking has serious, even fatal consequences, your wise words may not reduce their temptation of trying a cigarette for the first time. According to the latest reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 5 million children living today will die prematurely because of their decision to smoke.

So what are the odds that a child will use some form of tobacco product?

1) As many as 1 in 10 middle school students smoke cigarettes. 2) More than a quarter of high school students smoke cigarettes. 3) 1 in 5 male high school students have smoked cigars. 4) 1 in 10 female high school students have smoked cigars.

And smoking is not the only danger. About 9.3% of high school students use smokeless tobacco. Kids who chew tobacco are approximately five times as likely to develop oral cancer than those who do not chew tobacco. The risks are real and problems are can develop quickly because cancer can appear within five years of chewing tobacco regularly.

A harrowing story about an all-American 18-year-old reveals the very real dangers of chewing tobacco. Sean Marsee was a talented athlete who won 28 medals. He did not smoke or drink, but chewed tobacco, believing it wasn't bad for him. When he was diagnosed with oral cancer, part of his tongue was removed. But cancer had spread. More surgeries followed, including the removal of his jawbone. Sean tragically lost his fight with cancer and died at age 19.

Clove and ethnic cigarettes

An increasing number of novel cigarettes such as clove cigarettes and bidis (small, flavored cigarettes from India) are being smoked, almost as much as smokeless tobacco is being used. The perception is that these are less harmful than the traditional cigarettes, but in reality, they are worse. Not only are bidis unfiltered, but they are reputed to have triple the amount of nicotine and five times the amount of tar compared with regular brands. They are disguised in enticing flavors like chocolate and raspberry.

Would you believe that chewing tobacco is available in the disguise as children candy? According to Dr. Khalid Anees at the Eastman Dental Institute in London, England, sweetened tobacco products called gutka are being imported from Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh into Britain and America. Because these tobacco products are colorful, shiny and often have pictures of children on the wrapper, people are mistaking them for candy. They are marketed like sweetened fennel seed products called supari, which are commonly consumed by the Asian community. It is now difficult to tell which products contain tobacco, and which are harmless.

The Indian sub-continent is seeing higher cases of oral cancer and now that these products are being sold in the United States and Britain, there is concern that many more children will suffer the same fate. American and British governments are working to find a way to resolve this problem.

How do we impress upon children the importance of avoiding tobacco products?

Show them how tobacco will be detrimental to their health now, and give them the confidence and tools they need to say "no" when offered tobacco.

About the Author

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Health After Smoking

by William Jones

If you are a smoker, you already know that your health is at stake. By understanding the positive changes to your body after you've stopped smoking, you will be more likely to stick to your new smoke-free regime.

First, it's important to understand how smoking affects your vital capacity. Ask your doctor to perform a Vital Capacity test to measure the amount of air you take in with each breath. You will be asked to take a deep breath and blow into a device that tells your doctor the volume of air dispelled. Air taken in by healthy lungs holds about 19% oxygen. Smokers take in even less vital oxygen because the lungs are not able to expand as much. The more you smoke, the lower your vital capacity.

Cigarette smokers also double their risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death. Additionally, more young smokers are killed by stroke than their young non-smoking peers.

That's the bad news. The good news is that the body has incredible healing powers, and can start to correct the negative effects of smoking within minutes of extinguishing your last butt.

According to the American Cancer Society, these are the estimated healing times following your last cigarette:

* After 15 minutes: Blood pressure, pulse rate, and body temperature of your hands and feet return to normal.

* After 8 hours: your oxygen level increases to normal, and the level of deadly carbon monoxide in your system drops

* After 24 hours: Heart attack risk decreases. You are less likely to have a heart attack in as little as one day after you've stopped smoking.

* Within 48 hours: Your senses of smell and taste increase, as damaged nerve endings begin to regrow. Many smokers have no idea that their habit has actually stopped the growth of nerve endings.

* 2 weeks to 3 months: Your lung function has increased by up to 30 percent. Your circulation has improved, and you find it easier to walk. Overall, you're feeling terrific!

* 1 to 9 months: You've noticed a decrease of coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath. The cilia in your lungs are now able to better handle mucus, clean your lungs and reduce infection.

* After 1 year: You are half as likely than a smoker to have a heart attack.

* After 5 years: You have nearly half the chance of dying from lung cancer as you did when you were a pack-a-day smoker. The risk of esophagus, mouth, and throat cancers are half that of smokers. Some communities have banned tobacco companies from giving chewing tobacco away at rodeos where it can easily get into the hands of children. It's hard to imagine anything worse than mouth cancer.

* After 10 years: The lung cancer death rate is equal to that of nonsmokers. Pre-cancerous cells have been replaced, and the risk of death from cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas has decreased.

* After 15 years: Your risk of suffering coronary heart disease is the same as that of a nonsmoker.

Your hard work will most definitely pay off in renewed good health, and with healthy financial benefits as well.

Assume that you spend $50.00 per month on cigarettes. If you were to invest that same $600.00 each year into a stock mutual fund, annuity, or another financial instrument that generates 5% annually, you will have saved more than $20,000 after 20 years. Of course, $50.00 per month is a very nominal amount. Most smokers will spend a great deal more while they smoke, and save a great deal more when they stop.

You know that you need to stop smoking. Both your body and your bankbook will be much healthier for it. There are many resources available to help you become a non-smoker, but be wary of television commercials that promote sites to help you quit. As a matter of fact, the first step to your healthier lifestyle should be to turn off the TV altogether. Instead, ask your doctor about the stop smoking methods and support groups that are available to help you quit.

About the Author

William Jones contributes to several well-known web magazines, on home and family tips and recreation and travel subjects.

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