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EduKational Health Article


Smoking - the facts

Experts agree that tobacco is the single biggest avoidable cause of cancer in the world.

And smoking doesn’t only cause cancer. It also causes tens of thousands of deaths each year in the UK from other conditions, including heart and lung problems.

Some facts about smoking

Tobacco was responsible for more than 100 million deaths worldwide in the 20th Century. The World Health Organisation has estimated that, if current trends continue, tobacco could cause a billion deaths in the 21st Century.

More than 70 chemicals in tobacco smoke that have been found to cause cancer in studies involving people or in the laboratory

Tobacco smoke contains many dangerous chemicals

cigarette chemicals
Chemicals found in cigarettes

Scientists have identified over 5,300 different chemicals in tobacco smoke. The International Agency for Research into Cancer (IARC), the gold standard for establishing the causes of cancer, state that there are more than 70 chemicals in tobacco smoke that have been found to cause cancer in studies involving people or in the laboratory. And many of the other thousands of chemicals are toxic and harmful to your health, including carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and ammonia.

Some chemicals found in cigarette smoke

  • Methane - Sewer gas
  • Arsenic - Poison
  • Nicotine - Insecticide
  • Ammonia - Cleaning fluid
  • Methanol - Rocket fuel

Additives in cigarettes

In 1994 tobacco companies in the US released a list of 599 different cigarette additives, which included chocolate, vanilla, sugar and liquorice as well as common herbs and spices. Although these don’t make cigarettes any more toxic, they are meant to make cigarettes taste nicer and ensure that smokers want to continue smoking.

Man smoking

Flavoured tobacco, such as menthol or chocolate-flavoured cigarettes, has been banned in Europe under the Tobacco Products Directive, this will be introduced by 2020. Although additives necessary for manufacturing tobacco can continue to be used, including sugar lost during the curing process, tobacco companies will have to do more research into additives with the possibility that those found to be more harmful or addictive could be banned from use.

Chemicals in tobacco smoke can harm the body in many ways

Chemicals found in tobacco smoke can damage DNA. For example, studies have shown that benzo(a)pyrene damages a gene called p53 that normally protects our cells from cancer. While polonium-210 becomes concentrated in hotspots in smokers’ airways, subjecting them to very high doses of high-energy alpha-radiation that damages the DNA of nearby cells.

The cocktail of chemicals in tobacco smoke is even more dangerous as a mix.

The cocktail of chemicals in tobacco smoke is even more dangerous as a mix. Toxic metals found in tobacco smoke, like cadmium, arsenic, and lead, stop our cells from repairing DNA damage. This worsens the effects of chemicals like benzo(a)pyrene that damage DNA and makes it even more likely that damaged cells will eventually turn cancerous.

Many tobacco poisons disable the cleaning system that our bodies use to remove toxins. Some substances including formaldehyde and acrolein kill cilia, tiny hairs in our airways that help to clear away toxins.

Nicotine is a highly addictive drug

Most smokers do not smoke out of choice, but because they are addicted to nicotine]. This was highlighted in a report by The Royal College of Physicians into the effects of nicotine. They also compared nicotine to other supposedly ‘harder’ drugs such as heroin and cocaine. They looked at many things including how these drugs cause addiction, how difficult it is to stop using them and how many deaths they caused. The report concluded that nicotine is a highly addictive substance, particularly when people are exposed to it through using tobacco, and that tobacco dependence is at least as serious as addiction to ‘harder’ drugs.

Smoker may be more stressed than non-smokers

People associate smoking with feeling less stressed and anxious, but the evidence suggests this is only because it temporarily relieves the unpleasant symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. If anything, current smokers seem to feel more stressed and anxious than ex-smokers or people who have never smoked.

Smokers can also make mental associations with abstract things like the smell of cigarettes, objects related to smoking like ashtrays and lighters, and situations in which they usually smoke. These can all act to reinforce the addiction to smoking.

Alcohol worsens the effects of smoking


Alcohol has also been shown to be a cause of mouth, oesophageal and liver cancers, among others. And scientists have found that together, the effects of alcohol and tobacco are much worse than for either one of them by itself.

Passive smoking causes cancer and other diseases

There is clear evidence that breathing in other people’s smoke causes cancer in non-smokers. Second-hand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke or passive smoking, exposes people to cancer-causing chemicals.

passive smoking cartoon

People who have never smoked have their risk of lung cancer increased by around a quarter if they have a spouse who smokes. The risk increases the more second-hand smoke they’re exposed to, people exposed to the highest levels can have their risk of lung cancer doubled.

Second-hand smoke can reach high levels in enclosed spaces such as within the home or inside a car. Studies have shown that even with open windows, levels can be dangerously high.

Second-hand smoke also causes other health problems in non-smokers including heart disease and respiratory diseases including asthma in children. And it may increase the risk of pharyngeal and laryngeal cancers.

Even light or occasional smoking damages health

Although the risk of an early death increases the more you smoke, people who think of themselves as light or occasional smokers also have an increased risk compared to people who don’t smoke. One study found that people who smoked up to 4 cigarettes a day were about 50 per cent more likely to die prematurely than non-smokers. And the Million Women study found that women who smoked up to 10 cigarettes a day were twice as likely to die prematurely than non-smokers.

Large studies looking at the health risks of smoking, such as the British Doctors Study and the Million Women Study, have found that people smoking between 1 and 14 cigarettes a day are at least 7 times as likely to die from lung cancer compared to people who have never smoked. And one study found people who smoked between 5 and 9 cigarettes a day had a higher risk of dying from lung cancer, or any type of cancer.

How does second-hand smoke affect children?

Second-hand smoke is particularly dangerous for children. Children exposed to passive smoke are at higher risk of respiratory infections, asthma, bacterial meningitis and cot death. Second-hand smoke has been linked to around 165,000 new cases of disease among children in the UK each year.

Second-hand passive smoking harms children

For children, the majority of exposure to second-hand smoke happens in the home. Smoke can spread throughout the home, even if you open the windows. Almost 85 percent of tobacco smoke is invisible and smoke particles might also build up on surfaces and clothes, although the impact of this is not yet clear. If you are a smoker, smoking outside can help reduce your child’s exposure.

Is smoking in cars bad for passengers’ health?

Second-hand smoke can reach very high levels inside cars because it is a small enclosed space.

During your journey, children and other people in the backseats will be exposed to average smoke levels around three times the European recommended air pollution limit. But the level varies depending on how much you smoke, if you have all the windows fully open or air con on. Peak levels can reach as much as 35 times this limit.


  1. Cancer Research UK
    Article: Smoking - facts and evidence

EduKational comment

Despite huge amounts of research pointing to the destructive power of tobacco and cigarette smoking, the world is still gripped by the scourge of smoking. The health and economic toll on people, their families, the communities in which they live, health services, and their county, from cigarette smoking - and other tobacco products - is vast. As a global community we are still being held to ransom by the tobacco industry. Governments likewise are held in the vice-like economic grip of the tobacco industry.

One unequivocal fact stands out in relation to tobacco and that is, SMOKING KILLS.

cigarette advert
Old cigarette advert

Truly gargantuan efforts are put in to stopping people smoking by anti-smoking activists, honest medical professionals, and sections of Governments worldwide. Misleading and health dangerous advertising from the cigarette manufacturers is becoming a thing of the past and many more people than ever now do not take up smoking. However there are still far too many that do.

cigarette advert-th
Thai cigarette pack warning advert

Legislation has forced cigarette manufacturers to package their goods in either plain unbranded packets, or to have warning messages and graphic images printed on them; but, still, people continue to smoke.

So my question is, "Why do so many people continue to smoke?"

The answer is socially complex but medically simple - Nicotine. The fact that so many people continue to smoke, and find it so difficult or impossible to quit, shows the enormous power that nicotine has over the human brain. Once we are caught in the Nicotine web we are like dolphins caught in a fishing net, if we cannot be set free we die.

At EduKational we are campaigning for the rights of children to be given the chance to live a life in health.

man-carrying baby
Thai anti-smoking advert

As responsible humans we have a duty to look after ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. This fact appears to be lost on smokers who regularly subject their family members to the dangers of passive, or second-hand smoking. Children are particularly vulnerable to passive smoking chiefly because of their inability to guard against it.

At EduKational we are campaigning to educate people in all areas of health, nutrition and lifestyle by using Bhuddi to provide a stable pathway to success.

One of the myriad of reasons smokers put forward for not quitting smoking is that they will put on too much weight. However a big part of successfully quitting smoking is willpower; this state of mind must also extend to other areas affected by not smoking, for example diet and lifestyle.

In order to bring about these transformations smokers should be encouraged to pursue for Bhuddi. Only then will they realise what is true, honest, reliable information about smoking; only then will they be able to combat the unenlightened who will not see the truth. Only then will they have a powerful ally in their fight against nicotine.

At EduKational we encourage you to join our honest efforts to provide all people with not only honest real food, but also honest reliable information and the means to live a healthy life free from those 75% of diseases and conditions that are entirely preventable.

Join with us at EduKational Restaurant and campaign for a smoke-free Thailand and a smoke-free World

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