Why we can’t stop smoking -Chain smokers (2)

CONTINUED FROM LAST week

Dr. Perry Iloegbunam of Stem Cell Therapy, said Nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco are easily absorbed into the blood cells through the lungs and this spread quickly through the body. He said when cigarette is taken in small quantity, nicotine gives pleasant feelings and distracts the user from unpleasant feelings, making the tobacco user want more.

“Nicotine acts on the chemistry of the brain and central nervous system; this affects the smoker’s mood. It works like other additives, flooding the brain’s reward circuits with a chemical called dopamine. It gives a little of an adrenaline rush – not enough to notice, but enough to speed up the heart and raises blood pressure,” he said. Nicotine, he added, reaches the brain within seconds after taking a puff and its effects start to wear off within a few minutes. The user may start to feel irritated and oversensitive, not reaching the point of serious withdrawal symptoms, but the smoker gets more uncomfortable over time. “If the smoker doesn’t pick up a cigarette again soon, the withdrawal symptoms worsen. As the body adapts to nicotine, smokers tend to increase the amount of tobacco they use.

This raises the amount of nicotine in their blood, and more tobacco is needed to get the same effect. “This is called tolerance. Over time, a smoker reaches a certain nicotine level and would need to keep up the usage within a comfortable range. Smokers can quickly become dependent on nicotine and suffer mental or psychological withdrawal symptoms when they stop smoking.

“The average amount of nicotine a smoker gets in one regular cigarette is about 1 to 2 milligrams (mg). The amount you actually take in depends on how you smoke, how many puffs you take and how deeply you inhale.”

Another smoker who started smoking from a young age by picking cigarette stubs from the ground and hiding in a corner to light it, Fredric Ugwu, said: “One thing must kill a man. If I die from complications of a lung disease and another person dies of headache, it is the same death. So, it is better to indulge in what gives you joy and when you die, you go peacefully. “I smoke everything. I stared smoking at a tender age of 14. I started smoking dried pawpaw leaves, crushed it and wrapped in a paper.

My friend and I also have a habit of stealing my grandfather’s cigarettes from his pocket when he removes his trousers to go to the bathroom. Yes, it was like an adventure. My friend and I used to sneak out of the classroom during school hours to smoke cigarettes.

“I like to watch the red light on the cigarette get long and turn to ashes.

As I got older, it was just a habit. I just smoked and didn’t think about the implications. I smoke after breakfast and each meal. And just as I’m going to bed, I take one stick. It’s a habit I have developed.” Sunday Telegraph observed that smokeless tobacco, like Utaba (snuff) delivers a high dose of nicotine. Nicotine enters the bloodstream from the mouth or nose and it moves to every part of the body. Nicotine in smokeless tobacco is measured in milligrams (mg) of nicotine per gram (g) of tobacco. Smokeless tobacco users have as much trouble giving up tobacco as cigarette smokers.

It’s been found to vary greatly, for instance, as much as 4 to 25 mg/g for moist snuff, 11 to 25 mg/g for dry snuff and 3 to 40 mg/g for those who chew tobacco. Other factors that affect the amount of nicotine a person gets include the brand of tobacco, product’s acidity; amount chewed and cut of tobacco.

“Smokers who use tobacco regularly risk having withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop or drastically reduce the amount of intake. Cutting back on tobacco causes symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and withdrawal is both physical and mental. There’s no danger in nicotine withdrawal, but the symptoms can be uncomfortable, said Dr. Ngozi Obiora. She stressed: “Physically, your body reacts to the absence of nicotine. Mentally, you are faced with giving up a habit, which calls for major change in behaviour. Emotionally, you might feel as if you’ve lost your best friend.

“Nicotine withdrawal symptoms include any of the following, dizziness, depression, feelings of frustration, impatience, anger, anxiety, irritability, trouble sleeping, including trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, nightmares, trouble concentrating, restlessness or boredom, headaches, tiredness, increased appetite, slower heart rate, constipation and gas, cough, dry mouth, sore throat, and nasal drip, chest tightness.

These symptoms can lead a person to start using tobacco again to boost nicotine blood levels and stop symptoms. “The symptoms usually start within a few hours and peak about 2 to 3 days later when most of the nicotine and its by-products are out of the body. Withdrawal symptoms can last a few days to up to several weeks. They get better every day a smoker stays tobaccofree, but this is very difficult,” she added.

Funke Olonisakin who resents snuffs said: “I hate snuff. It’s so annoying and stains clothes. It comes with awful odour and makes the users dirty. I stayed with my grandpa who was a user of snuff and I know what I’m talking about. I can’t engage such users in a relationship or marry such a character. I hate those who snuff tobacco with a passion. I prefer cigarette to snuff.” For cigar smokers who do not inhale the nicotine, this is absorbed more slowly through the lining of the mouth. This means cigar smokers can get the desired dose of nicotine without inhaling the smoke directly into their lungs.

Research revealed that most full-size cigars have as much nicotine as many cigarettes put together. Cigarette contains an average of about 8 milligrams (mg) of nicotine, but only delivers about 1 to 2 mg of nicotine to the smoker. Many popular brands of larger cigars have between 100 and 200 mg, or even as many as 444 mg of nicotine. At popular Seme Motor Park at Mile 2, one of the commercial taxi drivers, Rafiu Onosanya, said marijuana gives him strength to do his job, adding that, whenever he takes one full drag, he works without getting tired.

“Bros you know our type of job nah, na hard work, so you need to top it with some moles. I no dey smoke before, na for this park na him I start to dey smoke,” he said in pidgin English. He noted that smoking in the park makes the smokers fearless and ready to attack anybody who opposes the drivers.

He noted that when he takes marijuana early in the morning before going to toilet, it makes him high and he decides to puts it in his food; he sleeps soundly no matter how sunny it may be. Princes Onyia, a Youth corper said, while some people don’t like to get into relationships with smokers, some takes delight in it.

“My fiancée used to smoke cigarette before I met him. When the relationship grew, I told him to stop smoking and drinking as a condition to accept his proposal for marriage and he accepted. He tried reducing the rate at which he smokes. He was improving but at a point, he lost it. I don’t like cigarette smell, so I had to end the relationship because it I couldn’t cope with him. Though, I loved him so much, but I couldn’t help it.” “My husband smokes heavily but he does that far away from our home because of my health condition. The smell sticks and I do not like it.

The smell makes my dizzy and he has learnt that,” said Musa Rachael, a mother of two. Miss Gladyce Udegbunam said she is not bothered whether her husband smokes or not as long as he doesn’t put the cigarette in her own mouth, saying if smoking gives him joy, then let him smoke.

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