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Nicotine: An Instrument of Death

Nicotine: An Instrument of Death (<i>cont'd</i>)
  • Secondhand smoke is a potential killer. It contains DDT, arsenic, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. It's linked to infant pneumonia, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and asthma, as well as middle ear infections in toddlers and older children. In adults it's linked to asthma, stroke and cardiovascular disease, cancer and even respiratory failure.
  • Low-tar, low-nicotine cigarettes do not decrease your risk of lung cancer, heart attack, bronchitis or emphysema.
  • Ventilated filters do not reduce the harmful risks of tobacco exposure.
  • Cigar smoke contains as many dangerous chemicals as cigarette smoke, and is known to cause cancers of the mouth, throat and esophagus.
  • Pipe smoking greatly increases the level of carbon monoxide in the blood. Pipe smokers have an increased risk for lip and mouth cancer.
  • Chewing tobacco and snuff are not safe alternatives to cigarettes. These forms of tobacco can produce very high levels of nicotine in a person's blood and increase his or her risk for nicotine dependence and cancers of the mouth, tongue and throat.

I know many smokers want to quit, and I realize this addictive habit is very hard for many people to break, but please don't give up. This is where the quote "If you don't succeed the first time, then try, try again" comes into play. It's a fact that the more times you attempt to quit, the better your chances are for succeeding.

Fortunately, we have more options today for helping you succeed against this enemy of good health, but you need to take the first step by contacting your health care professional. I know it's hard, but your life's clock is ticking. There's no time like the present to get started.

Copyright 2003, Dr. Rob Danoff

Robert Danoff, D.O., M.S., is a family physician. He is program director of Family Practice Residency Frankford Hospitals, Jefferson Health System, Philadelphia, Pa. He also is a medical correspondent for The Comcast Network, CN8, contributing writer to the New York Times and writes a weekly medical column for the Bucks Courier Times, Bucks County Pa.

For more common questions and expert answers on the impact of smoking on the body, visit

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