Misconceptions about smoking


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One big misconception is that only smokers will contract diseases related to cigarettes.   The truth is that even non-smokers, if exposed to smoke, can catch diseases. Secondhand smoke is variously known as environmental smoke, side-stream smoke, involuntary smoke, or passive smoking. Smoke does contain toxic chemicals and exposure to it can lead to serious health issues.

Experts explain that even if you do not smoke, you are at risk because, “The components in secondhand smoke are more concentrated than in firsthand since there is no filter at the end of the cigarette. The levels of nicotine, tar, nitric oxide and carbon monoxide are at least twice as high in secondhand smoke.” Secondhand smoke is the smoke emitted from the burning end of a cigarette or from other smoked tobacco products. More than 8 million people die each year from tobacco use. 1.2 million are killed as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke. In 2019 tobacco killed 8.67 million people worldwide (6.53 million men, 2.14 million women). The economic damage amounted to about US $ 2 trillion.

A second misconception is that “If I smoke in the home in a separate room, members of the family will be safe.” However, reports show that smoke from one cigarette can stay in a room for hours. You may open the windows, use the air conditioner or the fan, or use purifiers, but somehow these devices do not entirely get rid of secondhand smoke. Have you noticed that even if you are smoking separately, someone in the house may always tell you that the odour is embarrassing him or her?

We do not realize it but smoke residues may turn out to be dangerous. It is said that the compounds may be stirred up and inhaled with other house dust, and may also be accidentally taken in through the mouth. The risks exist for babies and children who play on the floor or put things in their mouths, according to the American Cancer Society.


Another common wrong idea about smoking is that vaping carries no risks – it is safer than actual cigarettes. In e-cigarettes, liquid is heated into a vapour. This vapour is inhaled. It is good to know that the safety of e-cigarette has not been guaranteed so far. E-cigarettes can be harmful to non-smokers as well. Today manufacturers are aggressively marketing e-cigarette by making it more attractive and child-friendly to appeal to the young. The idea that is sold to people is that e-cigarette is safer and it is an ideal replacement for cigarettes. We must not fall into these marketing traps. Today manufacturers can tell you anything to make money. The problem is that the young may begin with e-cigarette to end up with the tobacco. E-cigarette can be addictive.

There is a misconception that e-cigarette plays a vital part in quitting cigarette smoking. There is no scientific study so far to prove that e-cigarette helps you to quit cigarette. One reliable source states that “The quality and safety of e-cigarettes has not yet been thoroughly tested, and it is not clear whether they are actually helpful for people trying to quit.” The two major dangers associated with e-cigarettes are (1) faulty parts (2) swallowing of e-liquid, which can lead to poisoning and it can even cause death in children. To protect people from the adverse health outcomes of e-cigarette, our government has taken the correct decision to ban it. We must not forget that nearly half of all children breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke and 65,000 children die annually due to illnesses related to secondhand smoke, according to the World Health Organization.

“The Conversation”, November 24, 2016, reports that “The use of e-cigarettes over smoking tobacco recently has been found to improve everyday prospective memory (memory for future activities), but we presently know little about what long-term impact e-cigarettes may have upon health, mood and cognitive functions.”

The dangers of secondhand smoke

Secondhand smoke may be a major cause of coronary heart disease, lung cancer and even stroke. Women may have reproductive health problems. Children may suffer from respiratory problems or sudden infant death syndrome. Those suffering from asthma may find their condition getting worse. Since 1964, about 2,500,000 non-smokers have died by diseases caused by secondhand smoke.

We have had some effective measures from successive governments to curb smoking: banning direct forms of advertising, banning sponsorship, awareness campaigns, banning smoking in public places, taxes on cigarettes, and pictorial health warnings in dispensaries and hospitals. On the international level, we find that in Indian films where you have characters smoking, there is a note mentioning that smoking is hazardous to our health. In some Indian films, we see a video at the beginning of the film depicting an individual suffering from cancer of the throat due to smoking. It’s pathetic. The idea is to discourage people from smoking.   However, I am perplexed about one thing: how do the young still manage to obtain cigarettes? How do they manage to enter the school premises with cigarettes?

“What harm is there if I smoke a cigarette once in a while?” This kind of thinking is flawed because smoking is known to become addictive with time. The bottom line is: don’t start something you can’t stop.

Another misconception is that smoking diminishes the level of anxiety or stress. At the approach of examinations, many students are tense and anxious. They are under pressure. Some students may have heard from friends that smoking releases tension and are curious to give it a try. They think they will concentrate better. But what nicotine does is to create an impression of relaxation. Pairing or association, a psychological phenomenon, may occur. Each time the student is at the table to study at a particular time, the brain associates studies with smoking. He feels like missing something badly. So, he reaches for a cigarette. He may develop a sense of dependence. The best way to revise during exam is to organize oneself, to have enough sleep, to have adequate physical exercises, to consume proper food, to do short periods of revision rather than long hours late into the night.            

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