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Cigarettes are Legal Again but They Still Have Serious Health Consequences

The sale of cigarettes in South Africa was banned at the start of the national lockdown and remained as such for almost 4 months.

However, cigarettes are once again legal and smokers all over the country are celebrating, despite the fact that smoking continues to cause major health issues across the globe.

Harmful Effects of Smoking

Many individuals consider cigarettes a life-line during stressful times. They provide a sense of calmness amidst the storm that is life with all its ups and downs.

However soothing it may be to smoke, the damage that cigarettes do to the smoker’s health can be severe and, in some cases, fatal.

Although the cigarette ban presented an excellent opportunity to quit the habit, most smokers continued to purchase illegal cigarettes and are now relieved that they can go back to their preferred brand.

Cigarettes are made to be highly addictive. They are filled with chemicals that not only alter the chemical balance in the brain, but also cause and exacerbate existing chronic disease.

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Side Effects of Smoking

Lung Disease

Smoking causes various kinds of lung diseases such as:

  • Chronic asthma
  • Emphysema
  • Lung cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder
  • Chronic bronchitis
Heart Disease

Smoking causes damage to the entire cardiovascular system which include the heart, blood vessels and blood cells.

The following are heart conditions that can be caused or exacerbated by smoking:

  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Blood clots
  • Angina
  • Heart attacks
  • High blood pressure
  • Strokes

Smoking can negatively impact both the male and female reproductive systems, decreasing fertility in both genders.

In addition, men who smoke are more at risk of developing erectile dysfunction.

Glucose Conditions

Regular smokers are at higher risk of developing type two diabetes than those who don’t smoke. Furthermore, because of the effects cigarettes have on circulation, those with existing diabetes will find it harder to manage their disease and are at higher risk of developing infection.

Immune System

Smoking causes damages to blood cells that are responsible for fighting off bacterial and viral infections. Smokers are sick more regularly than non-smokers.

This is especially relevant in the current climate of the COVID-19 pandemic as this virus is one that affects the respiratory system.

Visual Issues

There is a direct correlation between proper circulation and vision. Smoking decreases circulation and causes the blood vessels to narrow, which can directly impact the eyes.

The following are other ways that smoking can affect the vision:

  • Greater risk of cataracts
  • Greater risk of age-related macular degeneration
  • Dry eyes
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Glaucoma
Poor Oral Hygiene

Smokers are at higher risk of developing gum disease and other oral hygiene related issues that include:

  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Bleeding when brushing
  • Painful gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Bad breath

In addition, smoking also decreases the smoker’s ability to taste or smell properly.

Increased Risk of Other Cancers

Smoking does not only cause lung cancer. In fact, it places the smoker at much higher risk of developing other cancers such as:

  • Colon cancer
  • Oesophageal cancer
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Mouth cancer
  • Throat cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer

Benefits of Quitting Smoking

The following are benefits that come with quitting smoking:

  • Better circulation
  • Increased energy
  • Improved mood
  • Improved immune system
  • Improved taste and smell
  • Lower risk of cancer
  • Better lung capacity
  • An opportunity to save money
  • The cycle of addiction is broken
  • Decrease in blood pressure

Step Away – Rehabilitation Centre South Africa

At Step Away, we offer excellent out patient programmes to assist with quitting smoking as we believe that a smoke-free life is a better life.

There are countless harmful effects of smoking. It’s never too late as the body has the miraculous ability to heal itself, but it needs your help.

To find out more about our outpatient programmes or for more information on the harmful effects of smoking, contact us.

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