Tobacco and Hookah Myths
Myth #1: Smoking relieves stress
Truth: The nicotine in cigarettes is a stimulant. It causes the heart to beat faster and blood pressure to go up. Nicotine does artificially stimulate the release of dopamine, which usually, but not always, results in feelings of well-being, pleasure and increased attentiveness.
The problem is that once habituated or addicted to the nicotine, withdrawal occurs between cigarettes, resulting in headache, lack of concentration, irritability, etc. The smoker then spends a great deal of time “chasing” the right balance of nicotine. The net effect is that those who are addicted to cigarettes/nicotine experience more stress and lack of concentration and productivity over time than do non-smokers.
More simply put, craving nicotine causes stress, and smokers spend a considerable amount of their time craving nicotine – and having elevated levels of stress.
Myth #2: Smoking is cool.
Truth: Actually, most people don't think that smoking is cool. In fact,
- 67% of teenagers say that seeing someone smoke turns them off.
- 65% say that they strongly dislike being around smokers.
- 86% would rather date people who don't smoke.
Many think that kissing a smoker is like licking a dirty ashtray; perhaps this is why the percentages who don’t want to date smokers are so high!
If you've gotten the impression that smoking is cool, it may be because smoking is portrayed that way in cigarette advertising. Ads for cigarettes -- like ads for other products -- are designed to associate the product with positive images. Cigarette ads usually show smiling, healthy-looking young adults, in an outdoor setting, having fun with friends. That's a "cool" image. But letting advertising manipulate you into making poor choices is not cool. What's really cool is thinking for yourself and making smart personal decisions.
Myth #3: Sure, smoking is unhealthy. But a lot of other things are just as bad for you. After all, practically everything seems to have a warning label.
Truth: Smoking is far worse than most other health hazards. For instance:
- Smoking is the number one cause of avoidable deaths in the United States.
- Every year, more than 400,000 Americans die as a result of smoking.
- One out of every five deaths in the U.S. is due to smoking.
- Worldwide, four million people a year die from smoking -- that's 11,000 people every day.
- Smoking kills one-half of all people who smoke.
Myth #4: Smoking only causes a few health problems -- the ones listed on the warning labels.
Truth: The only health problems specifically mentioned on the warning labels are lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and special problems that can happen when a pregnant woman smokes (complications of pregnancy, injury to the unborn child, low birth weight, and premature birth). But smoking also increases your risk of a wide variety of other diseases. And for people who already have health problems, smoking can make many of those problems worse.
Myth #5: Smoking won't affect my health until I'm much older.
Truth: Actually, if you smoke now, it can hurt you now. Some of the harmful effects of smoking occur right away. Smoking-related diseases can kill people at surprisingly young ages. Some of the victims are in their 30s or 40s. For example:
- Nancy Gore Hunger, sister of former Vice President Al Gore, died of lung cancer due to smoking at 46.
- Actress Carrie Hamilton, daughter of TV star Carol Burnett, died of lung cancer due to smoking at 38.
Myth #6: I only smoke a little. That won't hurt me.
Truth: Even smoking a little can hurt you. Research has shown that even "occasional" (less-than-daily) smoking (only a few cigarettes per day) can increase your risk of heart disease and shorten your life. There is no such thing as smoking "in moderation." Any amount of smoking is bad for you.
Another problem with smoking "just a little" is that most people can't do it for long. Cigarettes are physicallyaddictive. If you become a smoker, your body will adapt to cigarettes so that you will come to need them -- and need them several times a day -- in order to feel normal.
Myth #7: I'm only going to smoke for a few years. Then I'll quit. So my smoking doesn't really matter.
Truth: People who assume that all of the health hazards of cigarettes will disappear in a puff of smoke when they quit are wrong. Many of the harmful effects of smoking are irreversible, meaning that they do not go away completely after a person quits smoking.
Smoking for as short a time as five years can cause permanent damage -- to the lungs, heart, eyes, throat, urinary tract, digestive organs, bones and joints, and skin. Ex-smokers continue to have increased risks of many smoking-related diseases and health problems, including lung cancer, bladder cancer, chronic obstructive lung disease, the bone disease osteoporosis, serious diseases of the eyes (cataracts and macular degeneration), and muscle and bone pain.
Myth #8: Smoking will help me lose weight.
Truth: Starting to smoke is not associated with a decrease in body weight and for smokers, unfortunately, quitting smoking is generally followed by a gain in weight for many people.
Myth #9: I don't smoke cigarettes. I just smoke cigars or bidis or use smokeless tobacco. So I don't have a problem.
Truth: All of these forms of tobacco are addictive, and all are seriously harmful to your health.
Myth #10: If I smoke, the only person I'm hurting is me, so it's nobody else's business.
Truth: Smoking is a problem for all of the people who care about you as they don't want to see you harming yourself. And when you smoke, your cigarettes give off smoke into the environment that is harmful to other people's health.
Reference: The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH)http://thescooponsmoking.org/xhtml/aboutUs.php
Myth #11: Most people smoke.
Truth: Actually, most people don't smoke. This is true both for adults and for teenagers.
- Among adults in the U.S., 77% are nonsmokers.
- Among high school students, 71% are nonsmokers.
- Among FSU students, 82.7% have not smoked in the last 30 days (National College Health Assessment, 2010)
Myth #12: Smoking hookah is safer than smoking cigarettes
Truth: Hookah is not safer than smoking cigarettes.
- Hookah smoke contains high levels of toxic compounds, including tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens). In fact, hookah smokers are exposed to more carbon monoxide and smoke than are cigarette smokers.
- As with cigarette smoking, hookah smoking is linked to lung and oral cancers, heart disease and other serious illnesses.
- Hookah smoking delivers about the same amount of nicotine as cigarette smoking does, possibly leading to tobacco dependence.
- Hookah smoke poses dangers associated with secondhand smoke.
- Hookah pipes used in hookah bars and cafes may not be cleaned properly, risking the spread of infectious diseases, such as herpes and tuberculosis.
- Hookah smoking by pregnant women can result in low birth weight babies.
For more information about hookah, or tobacco in general, visit http://breatheeasy.fsu.edu.