The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 18.1% of adult women in the U.S. are current cigarette smokers. That equates to slightly less than 1 in 5 women. So why are all these women smoking?
The reasons why women continue to smoke are multifold. Some are in denial and do not want to believe that they are susceptible to illness. Others may recognize the dangers but are unwilling to quit because they like how smoking makes them look and feel. Lastly, some may feel that quitting smoking is just too difficult.
Regardless of the rationale used to justify a smoking habit the fact remains that smoking does cause illness. Research has shown that smoking has been associated with everything from cancer and heart disease to infertility, respiratory diseases and osteoporosis. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 178,000 women die annually from cigarette smoking.
In recent years some women have resorted to using alternative forms of smoking. Two alarming trends that have become popular are the hookah pipe and electronic cigarettes. Many women use these because they provide the benefits of nicotine and are perceived to be less dangerous than traditional cigarettes. However, as you will see that is a common misconception.
A hookah is a water pipe used for smoking. The device allows for the use of special tobacco that is not available with traditional cigarettes. The tobacco used in hookah pipes is often much more concentrated and is even available in different flavors, which makes smoking even more appealing. Many women believe that this device poses less of a threat than smoking traditional cigarettes. This is untrue. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, hookah smoking causes many of the health risks that cigarettes do. In some cases even more harm can occur with the hookah. Water pipe smoking delivers nicotine which is addictive and is at least as toxic as cigarette smoke.In some cases hookah smokers may absorb higher concentrations of the toxins found in cigarette smoke. A typical one hour hookah smoking session involves inhaling 100 – 200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette.
Electronic cigarettes are devices that look similar to an actual cigarette. The product delivers nicotine through a puff of hot gas that mimics smoke from a real cigarette. These cigarettes are available in many flavors, which adds to their appeal. While these devices do not contain tobacco products many of them do have toxic chemicals that have been found to be carcinogens. Many of these devices often have high levels of nicotine as well.
As you can see from the above data, no cigarette product is safe. Don’t kid yourself. Eventually, the effects of smoking will catch up with you. The road to quitting is tough but it can be done. You have the power to avoid becoming another statistic. Familiarize yourself with the latest information about treatment options and smoking cessation programs. Both the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society offer excellent resources that can help you determine which options are right for you.
For those that are interested the New York Hospital of Queens in Flushing has a Cardiac Health Center which offers smoking cessation programs.
American Heart Association (2010). Kick the Habit: Quit Smoking. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/QuitSmoking/Quit-Smoking_UC…
American Cancer Society (2010). Guide to Quitting Smoking. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/002971-pdf.pdf
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2009). Smoking and Tobacco Use: Tobacco Industry and Products Fact Sheets. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/tobacco_industry/…
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2009). Smoking and Tobacco Use: Women and Tobacco. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/populations/women/
Medscape (2009). FDA: E-Cigarettes Bad, but not Banned. Retrieved from http://search.medscape.com/medscape-search?queryText=FDA:%20E-Cigarettes…
New York Hospital of Queens (2010). Cardiac Health Center. Retrieved from http://www.nyhq.org/Cardiac_Health_Center