Smoking: Did you know?

by Dr. Jerry Singh

How many drivers do you know who smoke? You probably could name a few people who do not smoke, but most drivers do. We all know that smoking is not good for you. Quitting is difficult, but the sooner you do it, the healthier you will be. Here are some facts to think about before your next smoke.

Each cigarette contains nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide and close to 4,000 chemicals. Nicotine is a powerful mood altering substance, which is very addictive and toxic. It has a powerful effect on the brain and the central nervous system. Within seven seconds of taking in nicotine, one quarter of the nicotine has gone through the bloodstream straight to your brain. Nicotine also causes blood to coagulate (thicken/increase blood clots) and increases the need for oxygen. This results in the heart having to work harder to supply the body with oxygen. Research has shown increased levels of nicotine in your body increases your risk of death from heart disease and stroke.

Tar is a dark sticky substance that is made up of a combination of hundreds of chemicals, poisons and cancer causing substances.

Some people believe choosing a different type of tobacco is safer. Unfortunately, all tobacco contains these harmful substances. What does smoking do to your body? Smoking one cigarette can speed your heartbeat, increase blood pressure, affect the flow of blood and air in your lungs and alter your body temperature. Over extended periods of time, permanent damage to your body is done. Every year 45,000 Canadians die of smoking related illnesses.

Smoking can cause various diseases and illnesses. Smoking has been linked to many types of malignant cancers. Bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema, strokes, heart disease, heart attacks, gum disease and cataracts have also been associated with smoking. And smoking doesn’t just affect you, it also affects the people around you. Second hand smoke contains even more hazardous substances than inhaled smoke. Second hand smoke contains 2.7 times as much nicotine, 70 per cent more tar and 2.5 times greater carbon monoxide levels. Side stream smoke (directly from burning cigarettes) contains higher amounts of cancer causing agents than mainstream smoke (inhaled by smoker and then “puffed” out). Individuals who are exposed to second hand smoke on a regular basis have an increased risk of getting cancer, heart disease and other related chronic illnesses. There are approximately 300 lung cancer deaths a year attributed to second hand smoke. If you do not smoke, being around someone who does is hazardous to your health.

Here are some more numbers related to smoking in Ontario. Of every 1,000 Ontarians age 20 who smoke today, more than 50 per cent will die of smoking related illness if they continue. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the most serious respiratory condition for adults. Approximately 83-90 per cent of COPD cases are attributed to tobacco use.

Smoking is a hard habit to break, so here are some tips to help you quit: Drink a lot of water with crushed ice. This helps flush out the chemicals and nicotine from your body. This also helps satisfy your oral craving for a while. Each day try and delay your first cigarette of the day by one hour. After your first cigarette, try and delay each of your next cigarettes during the day by 15 minutes. By doing so, you are making a conscious decision about when you are going to smoke, slowly decreasing the psychological/physical need to smoke. Finally, keep busy. When you have the urge to smoke, start doing something to keep you occupied.

Trucking can be boring. Smoking helps pass the time, and can become more of a habit than a need. The sooner you quit, the more you will reduce your chances of developing any of the chronic illnesses listed above. Take care and drive safely!

– Dr. Jerry Singh, B. Kin., D.C., runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont. He can be reached at 1-888-252-7327, or e-mail

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