The Ottumwa Courier

November 10, 2012

Tobacco: The vile weed

Guest Editorial

Kenneth S. Wayne, M.D.

OTTUMWA — “Tobacco drieth the brain, dimmith the sight, vitiateth the smell, hurteth the stomach, destroyeth the Concoction, disturbeth the humors and spirits, corrupteth the breath, induceth a trembling of limbs, exsiccateth the windpipe, lungs and liver, annoyeth the milt, scorcheth the heart, and causeth the blood to be adjusted.”

— Tobias Venner, MD, 1638

“There is no safe level of tobacco smoke. Any exposure to tobacco smoke — even an occasional cigarette or exposure to secondhand smoke — is harmful. Damage from tobacco smoke is immediate. Smoking longer means more damage. Cigarettes are designed for addiction. There is no safe cigarette. The only proven strategy for reducing the risk of tobacco-related disease and death is to never smoke, and if you do smoke to quit.”

— U.S. Surgeon General, 2012

Any amount of smoking can trigger heart attack, asthma or stroke in the susceptible individual. Tobacco smoke is a known cause of cancer in humans. Smoking can reduce fertility, induce miscarriage and low birth weight babies. Smokers suffering from COPO (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) describe their struggle for breatb as “like being underwater and never being able to reach the surface.”

Cigarettes are nothing more than delivery systems designed to get nicotine quickly to the brain, causing and sustaining powerful addiction. Adolescents are even more sensitive and prone to addiction than adults, resulting each day in about 1,000 additional teenagers in the United States becoming daily smokers.

Introduction of filtered, low-tar and “light” cigarettes have not reduced the overall risk of disease in smokers and may delay or interfere with smoking cessation and prevention.

Quitting is the only answer to avoiding the horrendous consequences of smoking ... and quitting sooner is safer than quitting later. The immediate benefit of quitting is to clear the air around you of chemicals dangerous to you and others.

Within minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate improve and circulation to your hands and feet will increase. Within 12 hours, the level of carbon monoxide in your blood will begin to fall. By 24 hours your chance of heart attack diminishes.

Within 36 hours, with further reduction in carbon monoxide poisoning, your blood the oxygen levels in your system will rise. By 48 hours, exercise becomes easier and sense of smell and taste improve. By 12 weeks, there is measurable increase in lung function and circulation.

Over several months, the susceptibility to coughs and colds diminishes and fatigue and breathlessness reduce. By one year, your risk of heart attack is reduced by 50 percent. Within 10-15 years, life expectancy is comparable to people who have never smoked!

Talk to your health care professional and get started on a Quit Plan today!

Kenneth S. Wayne, MD, is from Ottumwa.