Worldwide, the first cause of death is cardiovascular disease, followed by cancer. The risk factors that cause both conditions are common: Hypertension, cholesterol, smoking, sugar, obesity, reduced physical activity, unhealthy diet and alcohol abuse.

Smoking remains a global “epidemic” and the harmful effects of smoking have been publicly acknowledged. It remains, however, the leading preventable cause of death. In fact, the average male smoker loses 12 years of his life compared to non-smokers. The woman loses 11 years compared to women who do not smoke.

How does smoking affect our health?

Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemical substances, with different properties and therefore effects on the human body.

“As a result, people who smoke increase their risk of a significant number of diseases that reduce their life expectancy, including malignant neoplasms, cardiovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease, hypertension, as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and bronchial asthma”, points out Mr. Petros Kalogeropoulos, Director of Cardiology at the Metropolitan Hospital and continues: “At the same time, smoking contributes to the burden of other diseases, such as diseases of the digestive, musculoskeletal and connective tissue, urinary/reproductive system, nervous system and sensory organs, slowing down cognitive functions, while it has a negative effect on the body’s immune system”.

Smoking and Cancer

The majority of people think that smoking is only related to lung cancer. However, it affects all organs of the human body and participates in the increased rate of cancer most commonly seen in smokers, in the following organs:

• Oral cavity and pharynx
• Larynx
• Esophagus
• Stomach
• Pancreas
• Kidneys
• Bladder
• Brain
• Hematopoietic, Leukemias

Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease

Frequent consequences of smoking are myocardial infarction, especially in young people under 45 years of age, angina pectoris, heart failure, strokes, peripheral vascular disease and abdominal aortic aneurysm especially in smokers over 65 years of age.

Smoking and Lungs

Smoking is the main cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It helps the development of pneumonia and makes it difficult to regulate bronchial asthma.

Smoking and the Reproductive System

Women who smoke often give birth to babies with low body weight, have reduced fertility, experience complications during pregnancy, and sudden infant death syndrome is common.

Problems from tobacco use

Tobacco use can lead to:

• Increased postoperative complications
• Delayed wound healing
• Hip fractures
• Low bone density and eventually osteoporosis
• Waterfall
• Peptic ulcer

Smoking and the State

Taking these into account, the state enacted laws that prohibit the use of tobacco in common, public places, because in addition to active smoking and passive smoking, it causes harm to health. “Staying in a smoking area whether for fun or for work is harmful, causing damage to the human body and death. Especially people with a myocardial infarction, stroke, or damage to the carotid arteries and the vessels of the extremities, are strictly forbidden to smoke, but also to stay in places where others smoke”, emphasizes the expert.

That’s why it’s important that we all help enforce smoke-free laws in public places to protect everyone’s health. In developed countries, tobacco use has declined significantly since 1965.

“All scientific societies recommend smoking cessation for everyone, healthy and sick. “Looking at the numbers, 70% of smokers have expressed a desire to quit, but only a small percentage of 3-5% succeed,” he says.

Why is smoking addictive?

Why, since we know that smoking harms our health and causes death, do we not stop smoking? “The nicotine contained in cigarettes is a highly addictive substance and makes the smoker dependent. When we inhale smoke in a few seconds, nicotine has reached the brain and binds to special receptors. This results in the release of a substance called dopamine, which is responsible for the euphoric feeling the smoker feels when smoking. The duration of action of dopamine is approximately 30 minutes. After this period of time, the smoker must light a cigarette again to feel comfortable. Essentially, the smoker ends up being controlled by nicotine through dopamine and its reduction or lack causes discomfort, nervousness, restlessness and aggression leading to the use of cigarettes to feel a fictitious euphoria. This is the main mechanism that holds the smoker captive to nicotine. It is the so-called deprivation syndrome that he will feel when he wants to break the shackles of dependence” explains Mr. Kalogeropoulos,

Can a smoker quit smoking?

The withdrawal syndrome lasts up to 4 weeks or so, depending on the person. A smoker can quit smoking and become addicted to nicotine safely. The best way to achieve this is the combination of a pharmaceutical and counseling approach.
“There are doctors trained in the management of the smoker, who can actually help with smoking cessation by providing cessation medication. These medicines are safe when given by knowledgeable doctors or by the smoking cessation clinics of public and private hospitals. Despite this, the success rate remains low and ranges from 20-25%.

Health is the most precious commodity for everyone. Withdrawal takes a while because of this and it is worth all smokers trying to quit. Relapse is to be expected and the truth is that no one cut it on the first try. Even if we fail once, we will succeed in the next attempt or the one after that. After all, we all want to live the last minute we are entitled to. Unfortunately, however, one in two smokers will pay the price of tobacco use with their lives. The goal is and remains the cessation of smoking and the creation of a smoke and nicotine free society. We seek the euphoria of health and not the fictitious euphoria of dopamine and nicotine, as the benefit of quitting smoking begins to be seen immediately, regardless of our age,” concludes Mr. Kalogeropoulos.

*In the Smoking Cessation Clinic of the Metropolitan Hospital, individual appointments are made for smokers who, self-motivated and for different reasons, want to quit smoking. Individualized solutions are provided for each patient individually with the goal of complete withdrawal from nicotine, without substitutes.