Smoking: Be a quitter

Tobacco smoke is a combination of gases, liquids and particles. In addition, there are more than a hundred chemical compounds in tobacco with the most well-known compound being nicotine. Other compounds include tar, ammonia cadmium, arsenic, hydrogen cyanide and formaldehyde.

Nicotine is a strong stimulant (as is caffeine) that causes one’s heart rate and blood pressure to rise, but also causes blood vessels to constrict. This combination results in an elevation in blood pressure, which causes a strain on the heart muscle. In addition, the adrenaline “rush” from puffing on a cigarette also causes the heart to beat faster than normal and further stresses the cardiovascular system.

You can see that just the nicotine itself has a major negative impact on the cardiovascular system. But there are more compounds that add to this unhealthy habit, and one of them is carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide competes with oxygen to see which compound gets to attach itself to a hemoglobin molecule. The hemoglobin is what carries your oxygen around within your system. Your red blood cells (hemoglobin) will become 100 percent loaded with oxygen if there is enough oxygen around. However, the presence of carbon monoxide will greatly diminish the ability of the red blood cells to become loaded with oxygen. The less oxygen you have, the less energy you will have.

Just one drag on a cigarette will seriously interfere with oxygen transport! The carbon monoxide hogs the area on the red blood cell where oxygen wants to go.

The end result is that the smoking reduces a smoker’s work capacity because the person has less oxygen to use as compared to a non-smoker.


Second-hand smoke has two times the nicotine and five times as much carbon monoxide as inhaled smoke.

The temperature of the fingers and toes decreases 5 to 10 degrees after smoking two cigarettes.

Filtered cigarette smoke has 20 percent more carbon monoxide than non-filtered cigarettes

Tobacco smoke has a high electrical potential, while the human body has a low electrical potential. This is why smoke seems to follow you while in an enclosed room (opposites attract).

Smoking one cigarette will paralyze the cilia (microscopic hairs that keep mucous moving upward out of the lungs) for 24 hours, which causes the “hacking cough syndrome” in long-term smokers.


Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and pulse rate drop to normal, and the temperature of your hands and feet increases to normal.

Within eight hours of quitting, your blood carbon monoxide levels drop, and blood-oxygen levels rise to normal values.

Within 24 hours of quitting, your risk of a sudden heart attack decreases.

Within 48 hours of quitting, nerve endings begin to regenerate, and your senses of smell begin to return to normal.

Within two weeks of quitting, your lung function increases by up to 30 percent.

Within one year of quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is 50 percent less than someone who smokes.

Within five years of quitting, your lung cancer death rate decreases by almost 50 percent.

Within 24 hours of quitting, your checkbook will be healthier.

Within one year of quitting, you will be able to purchase that 50-inch flat screen TV that you always wanted. The money saved from not smoking will fund this and other purchases.