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Smoking

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Smoking
Summary
  • Smoking is the action of inhaling and emitting smoke or a visible vapour whilst burning tobacco.
  • People smoke for many different reasons such as peer pressure, social activity or addiction to substances in the tobacco.
  • Tobacco smoke contains over 4000 chemicals, including Nicotine and Tar.
Description

Smoking is the action of inhaling and emitting smoke or a visible vapour whilst burning tobacco. People smoke for many different reasons such as peer pressure, social activity or addiction to substances in the tobacco.

Tobacco smoke contains over 4000 chemicals, including:1

Nicotine - the drug in tobacco that causes addiction. The mix of nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarettes temporarily increases heart rate and blood pressure, straining the heart and blood vessels. This can lead to heart attack and stroke. Circulation to the hands and feet is impaired and this can result in some long term smokers needing to have lower limbs amputated.

Tar - coats the lungs like soot in a chimney. Tar is made up of many chemicals, including gases and substances that cause cancer. Even low tar cigarettes may cause the smoker to take deeper puffs and hold the smoke in for longer, dragging the tar deeper into the lungs.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous, colourless and odourless gas also found in car exhaust fumes. Carbon monoxide robs the body of oxygen, forcing the whole body (especially the heart) to work harder. Inhalation of carbon monoxide leads to tiredness and muscle fatigue.

Hydrogen cyanide in combination with carbon monoxide and nicotine can greatly restrict blood flow to the head, hands and feet, reducing the flow of oxygen through the body. This can result in tissue death and poor wound healing2.

  • Management

    As with all conditions see your Doctor for advice. Your Doctor may suggest a nicotine replacement product such as chewing gum, patches, lozenges or inhaler. Non-nicotine medications such as bupropion (Zyban) may be prescribed for those who have tried nicotine replacement therapy without success. See the Anti-smoking Products topic on the Healthpoint.


    Lifestyle

    Vitamins/Minerals/Herbs
    • Avoid taking beta carotene, as taking regular doses of this supplement has been linked to a possible increased risk of lung cancer in smokers3.
    • A recent clinical trial indicates that Vitamin C can improve blood circulation to the heart which can be impaired in smokers4.
    • Chamomile and valerian may help relieve restlessness and anxiety.5
    • There are products available that contain a variety of herbs, vitamins, minerals and amino acids designed to help relieve the restlessness and anxiety that may be associated with giving up smoking. These products also support the immune system and replace depleted vitamins and minerals in people who have given up smoking.
  • Pharmacist's Advice

    Ask your Pharmacist for advice.

    1. Ask your Pharmacist about nicotine replacement products such as nicotine chewing gum, patches, lozenges and inhalers.
    2. Follow the Diet Hints.
    3. Stop smoking if you are pregnant, as smoking may affect the unborn child. Ask your Pharmacist about the programs to help you quit.
    4. If your diet is inadequate, consider some supplements.
  • Notes

    HELP TO STOP SMOKING

    Quitline (Tel: 131 848) is a free 24-hour, 7-day-a-week telephone service that provides advice and assistance to smokers who want to kick the habit. You can also use the Quitline website at www.quitnow.info.au to email Quitline for a Quit Book or you can call the Quitline on 131 848 and they can mail you a Quit Book.

    See also the Anti-Smoking Products topic on the HealthPoint.


    Organisations & Support Groups

    Australian Cancer Society - (02) 9036 3100 for information about the Quit Programme.


    References

    1. Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care (Australia). National Tobacco Campaign. Quit because you can. (booklet). [cited 2002 Nov 1]. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/pubhlth/quitnow/quitbook/.
    2. Sussman G. Pharmacological Considerations in Wound Management. Retail Pharmacy. Vol 11, No 10. Nov 2002.
    3. De-Luca-LM; Ross-SA. Beta-carotene increases lung cancer incidence in cigarette smokers. Differentiation Control Section, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892-4255, USA. Nutr-Rev. 1996 Jun; 54 (6). pp 178-80.
    4. Teramoto. K et al. Acute Effect of Oral Vitamin C on Coronary Circulation in Young Healthy Smokers. Am Heart J 148(2):300-305, 2004.
    5. Mills S and Bone K. Principles and Practise of Phytotherapy - Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh:Churchill Livingstone;2000.
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