Pros & Cons About Smoking

According to the American Heart Association in 2013, an estimated 23 percent of adult men and 18 percent of adult women in the United States are smokers. This has created a multibillion dollar industry that depends on the addiction. Although many smokers believe there are some small benefits to smoking, the consequences of the habit on the body far outweigh any positives.

An opened pack of cigarettes. (Image: merznatalia/iStock/Getty Images)

Why Smoke?

Because nicotine increases your basal metabolic rate, you burn more calories, causing some smokers to lose weight. Smoking may also calm nerves and help increase concentration. However, this is usually an illusion perpetuated by the addiction cycle. When a smoker's nicotine levels drop and she goes into withdrawal, she may feel anxious and unable to focus. Once nicotine levels return to normal after smoking, her ability to focus returns, and her overall feeling of well being also returns.

Smoking and Lung Damage

The disadvantages of smoking far outweigh the benefits. Nowhere is this seen better than with smoking's effects on the lungs. The American Lung Association estimates that cigarettes have 600 ingredients. When exposed to fire, the reaction creates an additional 4,000 chemicals, many of which are carcinogens. When exposed to the tissues of the mouth, esophagus and lungs, these chemicals can cause serious damage. This damage can lead to serious health problems, including emphysema and cancer.

Heart Health and Smoking

Smoking also has a devastating effect on your cardiovascular health. It increases your blood pressure, which can increase your chances of cardiovascular disease such as atherosclerosis. Smoking also increases your chances of developing blood clots, which can dislodge and travel to the brain, causing a stroke. Smoking also decreases your lung capacity, which can affect your ability to exercise. The loss of exercise can result in higher weight and cholesterol levels, which also puts you at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.

Financial Burden of Smoking

Smoking can also have a serious effect on your financial circumstances. In 2014, the average cost of a pack of cigarettes in the United States is $5.51. In some states, cigarettes can cost as much as nine dollars per pack. For a smoker who only smokes a single pack a day, the habit could cost as much as $2,011 a year, and that's on the low end of the spectrum. Other financial impacts include the loss in value of cars and homes that have been smoked in, as well as any health or insurance bills associated with smoking.

Death By Smoking

According to the American Heart Association, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Of the estimated 2.4 million Americans who die every year, as many as 440,000 die due to smoking-related illnesses. Even if you have smoked your whole life, quitting can drastically increase your lifespan. Within hours of smoking your last cigarette, your body will begin to heal itself. Although some health issues from smoking are permanent, many can be drastically reduced and even cured by stopping the habit.

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