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Smoking of cigarettes is precipitated by nicotine addiction; the compound in tobacco that causes smokers to continue with the habit of smoking. The level of addiction determines the amount of cigarette sticks smoked regardless of the type of cigarette smoked. The detrimental health effects on the smoker's respiratory system occur not due to nicotine inhalation but as a result of inhalation of some other chemicals that come from a burning tobacco leaf. It is these chemicals that are chemically active that trigger and cause damaging effects in the body. At the onset of smoking, a smoker inhales about 4,000 other chemicals other than nicotine. Out of these chemicals, there are 60 harmful chemicals that lead to cancer of the lungs and other body organ harm causing many diseases and deteriorating health (better health n.d).
There is an array of chemicals contained in tobacco that cause major harm to human health. Tar categorically refers to all suspended particles in tobacco smoke. Tar contains carcinogens (cancer causing agent) benzo pyrene, which is known to trigger tumour development. The smoke also contains carbon monoxide which is a toxic odorless gas that is fatal in large doses. Carbon monoxide displaces oxygen in the blood by binding onto the receptor cells of an oxygen transporting protein called haemoglobin in the blood. As a result, less oxygen reaches the brain, heart, muscle, and other organs.
Another chemical is hydrogen cyanide. The effect of cyanide is predominantly the interference of cilia action by stopping their activity. By stopping cilia activity, smoke builds up inside the lungs. Smoke contains free radicals that lead to damage to cardiac muscles as well as blood vessels. It also contains dangerous metals including arsenic, cadmium and lead which some of them are carcinogenic. Additionally, the smoke contains radioactive compounds which are carcinogenic (better health, n.d).
Gas exchange in the lungs is facilitated by the circulatory system in a diffusion gradient governed by affinity of gases. Ventilation refers to the process that is respiration, the inspiration and expiration of gases. The blood contains red blood cells which are carriers of haemoglobin the oxygen binding receptor. Therefore, inspiration leads to diffusion of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the alveoli, perfusion of oxygenated blood then take place in the capillary bed. It is imperative to note that carbon dioxide is a by-product of respiration and on combustion is oxidized to carbon monoxide which then as seen earlier has high affinity than oxygen in binding to haemoglobin (Severson, 1993).
The respiratory system and cellular respiration are highly correlated. This can be demonstrated by a case whereby for cellular respiration to occur the metabolism of organic molecules to provide ATP to go forth in the processes of Krebs cycle and Electron Transport System sufficient oxygen should be in supply and the by-product of these is carbon dioxide.
On the other hand, smokeless tobacco otherwise referred to as spit tobacco, or chew and other words comes in two forms: chewing tobacco and snuff. In terms of safety, there is no safe tobacco. Chew consequences other than predisposal to cancer include cracking and bleeding lips and gums, receding gums that can eventually lead teeth fall. Increased prone to heart attacks and brain damage from strokes due to increased heart rate and high blood pressure are just other additives (Severson, 1993). There is no positive to tobacco, the cost that comes with recreation with tobacco whether smoking or smokeless has a higher prize.