Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Do You Smoke?

I know you have your answer ready. No need for any difficult math on this one. You are in perfect control of your choices and not in doubt of your smoking status. However, just before you respond to this question in a jiffy, I will advice that you finish reading this post and then try answering the question again.

Do you remember what it looks like when a cigarette smoker is doing his/her thing? The cigarette is often times placed in between the index and middle fingers which serve as a crane for hoisting the cigarette into the wide space that exists between the upper and lower lips. With lips pressed over the slim cylinder shaped object, the bearer draws in air in order to enjoy the feel-good sensation that comes from the stimulating substance embedded in the wrap.

The smoker inhales smoke that cannot be completely absorbed by the body because our organs are not biologically designed to digest a cigarette and as a result, he/she dispenses into the immediate environment some of the dangerous chemicals contained in the stick or cigarette as the inhaled smoke  is exhaled from the lungs through the mouth and/or nostrils. This released smoke permeates the surrounding environment leaving other persons within the vicinity of the smoker to involuntarily inhale the smoke.

In addition to the smoke exhaled from the smoker’s lungs which is also known as Mainstream Smoke (MS), people around a smoker are also exposed to the smoke that comes out from the end of a lit cigarette called Sidestream Smoke (SS). Lit cigarettes release Sidestream smoke because the other unlit end is not hot enough for complete combustion of tobacco. The combination of both SS and MS is referred to as Environmental Tobacco Smoke(ETS) or Second-hand Smoke.

When the original smoker inhales his smoke directly from the cigarette, the smoke travels through his/her nostril into the nasal cavity, then to the pharynx (also known as the throat) and passes on to the larynx (or voice box). The larynx goes directly into the trachea (or windpipe) and branches into two bronchi. The two bronchi leads into one lung each and once inside the lungs the bronchi branch out into smaller tubes called bronchioles which lead to clusters of air sacs called alveoli. The alveoli are surrounded by capillaries which are the tiny blood vessels that allow exchange of substances between the blood and tissues. It is at this point that chemical substances contained in a cigarette are absorbed by the blood and transported to the rest of the body.

Now, moving on to non smokers who willingly or unwilling find themselves in the same environment with a smoker. Their respiratory system is not fashioned differently as the nostril, nasal cavity, pharynx, larynx, trachea, two bronchi, two lungs, bronchioles and alveoli are all positioned exactly as they are in smokers. So, when second hand smoke is inhaled, the substances they contain travel down the same route and find their way into the blood and subsequently to the rest of the body.

This is why people who are exposed to and breathe in Environmental Tobacco Smoke are called Passive or Involuntary Smokers.

Now, you can attempt answering the question again -

Do you Smoke?

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