World No Tobacco Day 2020: Five common myths about smoking

Myths encourage people to begin or continue smoking, deter them from quitting, and are so popular that even some physicians and policymakers buy into them.

Myupchar May 30, 2020 13:00:48 IST
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World No Tobacco Day 2020: Five common myths about smoking

Tobacco consumption is considered to be the most easily preventable risk factor for premature death in the world, and yet, in developing countries like India, the consumption of cigarettes is continuing to increase.

World No Tobacco Day 2020 Five common myths about smoking

Representational image. Image by Mari Ana from Pixabay

Apart from addiction, another major factor that keeps smokers from kicking the butt is the misinformation regarding tobacco and smoking. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2005 revealed that such myths encourage people to begin or continue smoking, deter them from quitting the habit, and are so popular that even some physicians and policymakers buy into them.

The following are some of the most popular myths about tobacco and smoking, which need to be busted immediately.

Myth 1: Nicotine is the only harmful component in cigarette tobacco.

Nicotine is definitely addictive, but there are many other harmful substances in cigarette tobacco apart from this one compound which gets the majority of the blame. According to the American Lung Association, cigarette tobacco contains more than 7,000 chemicals and at least 69 of them are carcinogenic (which means, they can cause cancer). Many of these other chemicals are also toxic.

Myth 2: Smoking relieves stress.

Ask any smoker and they’ll insist this is a fact, not a myth. Science, however, says otherwise. Smoking actually increases stress, because your body experiences nicotine withdrawal when you don’t smoke. This withdrawal heightens anxiety, stress and directly affects your mood. When the nicotine enters your system again during your next cigarette, the withdrawal symptoms go away and you assume that this is relief from stress - but it’s really not.

Myth 3: Smoking a mild/light cigarette is less harmful.

The above-mentioned study in the American Journal of Public Health also reveals that fewer than 10% of smokers realise that a cigarette labelled “light”, “ultra-light” or “ultra-mild” provides the same amount of tar as a regular cigarette. These labels, therefore, just give the impression of being less harmful, but they’re actually not.

Myth 4: A few cigarettes a day is not that harmful.

A study published in BMC Medicine in 2015 shows that cutting back on cigarettes is only beneficial if it leads to a complete cessation of the habit. If not, you’re likely smoking only two or three cigarettes a day, but taking more puffs and inhaling more deeply - which will lead to more damage.

Myth 5: Quitting after years of smoking is useless.

Whether you quit after a week, a few months or years after you started smoking - it does not matter, as long as you do quit. Multiple studies have shown that your body and lungs start to repair themselves as soon as you finish that last cigarette. The blood pressure levels go back to normal, carbon monoxide levels reduce drastically within 12 hours, nerve endings start growing back and lung function improves a week after quitting. A year of not smoking can reduce your risk of heart disease by half, and if you continue on that streak for 10-15 years, risks of all tobacco-related diseases reduce greatly.

For more information, read our article on Harmful effects of smoking and benefits of quitting.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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