British scientist Richard Peto, a world authority in the study of tobacco use, uses an example to explain the risks that smokers assume. Take a coin, throw it in the air and pick it up with the palm of your hand. Face or cross: this is the risk that regular smokers have to die from tobacco, (50%). It’s that simple and blunt.
These data are the result of a follow-up study conducted over 40 years among British male smokers and reflects that 1 in 2 regular cigarette smokers will die from tobacco. In Spain, it is estimated that, as a result of tobacco, there are more than 55,600 deaths annually.
Cigarette smoking is the main public health problem in developed western countries, among which we are, being also the largest preventable cause of illness and death.
We also know that quitting smoking produces important and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages, whether or not they suffer from tobacco-related diseases. Quitting smoking decreases the risk of lung cancer, other cancers, myocardial infarction, cerebral thrombosis, and respiratory problems.
The human, health, social and economic costs of smoking and exposure to smoke are known to all, but in our country tobacco consumption is still socially accepted: smoking is still well seen by society. The latest statistical data showed that 34.4% of the Spanish adult population smokes (National Health Survey Spain ENSE, 2001), with a clear tendency for consumption to decrease in men and an increase in women.
Smoking is an addiction, learned behavior and social dependence. A complete view of the smoking problem can help us to understand definitively why people smoke.
Nicotine, present in tobacco, is a potent chemical that produces pleasure, increases attention, decreases hunger, improves mood and calms nicotine withdrawal symptoms. In addition, it can act as a stimulant and relaxant.
Nicotine arrives in 7 seconds from the lungs to the brain and joins different brain areas. An average smoker repeats this process about 200 times each day (73,000 puffs per year) and this leads to tobacco addiction. Among the evidence that shows that smoking is a dependency are that more than 90% of smokers smoke daily, that tobacco withdrawal symptoms calm down when nicotine is administered, and that there is difficulty in quitting with frequent relapses.