Tuesday, October 21, 2014

There is no safe way to smoke

Lung cancer takes more lives than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined. Regardless of the device used, smoking is not healthy.

Smoking and secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, low birth-weight babies, ear infections and asthma. Help break the cycle. Talk to your health care provider about smoking cessation.

There are 600 ingredients in cigarettes that create more than 7,000 chemicals when burned, according to the American Lung Association. Sixty-nine of these chemicals causes cancer. Some of the chemicals and the places you might routinely find them include:

• Acetone — nail polish remover

• Acetic acid — hair dye

• Ammonia — household cleaners

• Arsenic — rat poison

• Benzene — rubber cement

• Butane — lighter fluid

• Cadmium — battery acid

• Carbon monoxide — car exhaust fumes

• Formaldehyde — embalming fluid

• Hexamine — lighter fluid

• Lead — batteries

• Naphthalene — moth balls

• Methanol — rocket fuel

• Nicotine — insecticides

• Tar — used for paving roads

• Toluene — paint

For those who claim that e-cigarettes are not as harmful, please consider that:

• In February, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reported 215 calls to the poison center related to e-cigarettes. The Federal Drug Administration also has reports of hospitalizations resulting in pneumonia, congestive heart failure, seizures, hypotension, disorientation and other health problems related to e-cigarettes.

• In September, Dateline NBC reported e-cigarette use by American high school students with Cloud 9, a synthetic drug sold at gas stations. It elicits heart attack symptoms and is responsible for many hospitalizations.

• The World Health Organization is currently recommending a ban on indoor use of e-cigarettes, as well as sales and advertising targeting youth. E-cigarette devices expel nicotine, formaldehyde, nickel, acrolein and other harmful substances.

• Hookah bar devices expel nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide and other carcinogens, which cause cancer. Many of the devices have more nicotine and release more carbon monoxide and smoke than cigarettes. Improperly cleaned, these devices spread communicable diseases.

In summary, there is no healthy smoking device. They all cause cancer. In order to stop this epidemic we must become smarter consumers, both for those we love and for ourselves. Smoking not only affects the smoker; it affects anyone that takes in secondhand smoke, and every person near and dear to the smoker who will deal with the deathly consequences.

The next time you think you want to smoke, ask yourself if you would consume any of the aforementioned chemicals. I doubt you will say yes.

Contributing Columnist October 19, 2014  Belinda Blair is an oncology nurse navigator at Baptist Health Lexington.