Heart Views

: 2018  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 158--159


Rachel Hajar 
 Department of Cardiology, Heart Hospital, Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar

Correspondence Address:
Rachel Hajar
Department of Cardiology, Heart Hospital, Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha

How to cite this article:
Hajar R. Smoking.Heart Views 2018;19:158-159

How to cite this URL:
Hajar R. Smoking. Heart Views [serial online] 2018 [cited 2023 Nov 30 ];19:158-159
Available from: https://www.heartviews.org/text.asp?2018/19/4/158/256234

Full Text


SMOKING and religion were closely linked in the ancient world, as seen in this carving of a Mayan priest smoking a pipe. Smoking tobacco emerged from religious ceremonies in the Americas as early as 5000 BC and was probably initially restricted to only shamans, priests, and medicine men.

Europeans arrived at the new world in the 16th century and introduced the habit of smoking to the old world, claiming all sorts of health benefits so that consumption, cultivation, and trading of tobacco quickly spread.

Today, we know that tobacco contains thousands of chemical compounds and toxins that are deleterious to health, among them nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide. Smoking damages the heart and blood circulation increasing the risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and cerebrovascular disease. Smoking accelerates the process of atherosclerosis; it damages the lining of arteries, leading to build-up of fatty material (atheroma) which narrows the artery and this causes angina, a heart attack or a stroke.

In the 1920s, a German doctor published a link between smoking and cancer. In 1948, a British epidemiologist published the first major studies demonstrating that smoking could cause serious health damage. In 1950, the British Medical Journal published an article that showed a close link between smoking and lung cancer. A few years later, the UK Government issued advice that smoking and lung cancer were related based on the British Doctors Study (40,000 doctors were enrolled) that confirmed the suggestion that smoking and lung cancer was related. Ten years later, in 1964, the US surgeon general reported that smoking causes lung cancer. This led to bans on certain advertising and requirements for health warning labels on tobacco products.

Among other cancers attributed to smoking are cancer of the mouth, bladder, pancreas, kidney, esophagus, stomach, liver, lips, tongue, throat, larynx, and esophagus. Smoking promotes the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease causing 83% of deaths and 84% from lung cancer. Tobacco has a harmful effect on other organs of the body as well, such as the bones, brain, skin, mouth and throat, and reproduction and fertility.

Research has shown that stopping smoking for 1 year reduced harmful health risks to 50% and after stopping for 15 years, risk is similar to someone who has never smoked.

However, a big problem is passive smoking or environmental smoke and e-cigarettes. Nonsmokers who breathed in the same smoke can take in nicotine and toxic chemicals the same way that smokers do. There is no safe level of exposure for secondhand smoke. Investigators are also finding out ways to decrease the nicotine level in tobacco by genetic manipulation.

E-cigarettes, on the other hand, are relatively new products. It was thought to be a safe and harmless method of smoking by replacing burning tobacco. E-cigarettes are devices that heat a liquid into an aerosol that the user inhales. It contains nicotine and is highly addictive. Besides nicotine, it can contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients, and therefore, its use is unsafe, especially for young people and young adults.