Online exclusive: What a drag

Coronary heart disease, stroke, emphysema, infertility, low birth weight, lower bone density and of course lung cancer… well, really a whole smorgasbord of cancers. Yep—this is the “smoking is bad” article.

Coronary heart disease, stroke, emphysema, infertility, low birth weight, lower bone density and of course lung cancer… well, really a whole smorgasbord of cancers. Yep—this is the “smoking is bad” article. 

Oh don’t roll your eyes; this is going to be fun!

Lets start with the obvious point that smoking—and we must be specific about this because I have a surprise for you later if you’re good and read the facts first—cigarettes is bad for you. And me. And the guy across the street, and your neighbor, and your neighbor’s Persian cat. We know this because the proliferation of images of sickly smokers on ads and TV screens encouraging us to never ever, no matter what, smoke a blessed cigarette. It’s enough to make a person so stressed that they really could use a cigarette.

These tactics are so dramatic. Which I’m guessing (and partially admitting to) makes some people want to smoke, just out of rebellion. You have to admit it—deep down you know it’s at least somewhat true. One would think the anti-smoking task force would have figured this out.

So smoking is bad for you. We know this, and many of us completely accept the personal risks involved. Not that I’m advocating smoking—but hey, shut up about it already. Let’s get straight to the point—it’s not all about you.

Smoking is bad for other people’s health. This is where things get dicey. Second-hand smoke carries almost identical health risks to actually smoking the cigarette yourself.

According to research done by the American Cancer Society there are some nasty consequences from inhaling nicotine smoke that is simply in the air that bystanders breath. These include an estimated 46,000 deaths from heart disease and around 3,400 deaths a year from lung cancer. These are deaths of people who do not smoke.

Well, adults do have a choice to not be around smokers whilst doing the deed, you say? Perhaps, but there is evidence that residue on the clothing and skin of smokers is also harmful. This is being called third-hand smoke, and basically consists of dust and left over chemicals being inhaled. Plus, this affects everyone, not just adults.

I admit I’m not a huge fan of children, but I have no long-harbored secret desire to “off” any of them. The American Cancer Association reports that as a result of secondhand smoke, 50,000 to 300,000 lung infections occur every year in children under the age of 18 months. Furthermore, children with asthma are more likely to have an asthma attack when exposed to cigarette smoke, and it will be more severe when they do. Plus, babies tend to be of lower birth weight if exposed to secondhand smoke prenatally.

What if these personal consequences of smoking included killing someone other than yourself? You read right—think about it. The conclusion? Smoking is bad. Put it out!

But wait, didn’t I promise a surprise?

Put it out is right! Smokeless cigarettes are a “non-harmful and cleaner” way to get your fix, according to CNN. These devices don’t contain any of the chemicals and tar that are included with a typical smoke based cigarette. Basically they are harmless to both, the smoker, and the typical secondhand sufferer.

But there is another angle here. Believe it or not, there are actually health benefits of smoking cigarettes—sort of. There are health benefits to absorbing nicotine, and smoking is one way to accomplish that. The smoke aspect of smoking is unfortunate, but now completely avoidable.

The health benefits of nicotine include improved performance due to an increase of fine motor skills and alertness, as well as improvements in short term memory. Hey, Discovery News says so¾I’m not making this up. There is also some indication that nicotine consumption may slow down the onset or improve the symptoms of cognitive diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

So cigarettes don’t have to be a drag, just be sure to take one off your smokeless variety.