According to a 2006 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 22% of high school students in American smoke cigarettes everyday. In fact, even if the study indicated that smoking had already declined over the last four years, the statistics still show that one in five Americans still smoke cigarettes. A 2005 study revealed that more than 20% of adults in the United States are smokers. While smoking rates among high school students have been on a decline since 1997, the rate of teenagers who smoke is equal to, and in some cases, higher than that of adults. The younger the individuals start smoking, the more likely that they will continue smoke as an adult. Given these figures, it is not surprising that smoking is the leading cause of premature deaths in the United States.
The question is still begging to be asked: Why do teens smoke? Is it because of the influence of media or because they get the habit from adults who smoke? Studies show that many teenagers smoke because they were simply curious about how it would taste or feel like. Others said that they thought that smoking was a good method to achieve weight-loss. Even if the warnings plastered on the cigarette box clearly says that “Smoking is dangerous to your health,” this has not stopped teens from experimenting or taking up the habit of cigarette use.
Medical evidence suggest that cigarette smoking causes an increase in the body’s metabolic rate and may suppress appetite. But it is important to note that smoking tends to dull the taste buds, which, after all, may be the reason for the “loss of appetite.” This argument is somehow supported by cases of people who gained weight after they stopped smoking. Since their taste buds had already regained their functionality, the former smokers enjoyed their meals more and eventually gained some weight.
Non-smokers may have found a way to kick the habit but for thousands if not millions of smokers around the world — doing away with the stick is still an on-going struggle. The addiction of smokers to the deadly chemical called nicotine makes it hard for them to stop smoking. Nicotine dependence occurs when the chemicals and other cigarette substances reach the brain and activates the pleasure cells, producing mood-altering effects that give smokers short-term pleasure.
The short-term pleasure of smoking somehow negates the clear message that long-term use of cigarettes could possibly lead to lung cancer, emphysema, and heart failure. Studies also show that smoking has adverse effects on male and female sexual health. A number of studies show that smoking is related to the difficulty getting and maintaining an erection. Many toxins present in cigarettes especially carbon monoxide, can damage the circulatory system, which hinders the flow of blood in the penis which is necessary for erection. In addition, smoking is one of the major causes of erectile dysfunction. A study published in the Journal of Urology in 2000 found out that 68% of men with high blood pressure aged 40-79 experienced erectile dysfunction. At least 45% of these cases were considered severe sexual ailments. High blood pressure in men may lead to low testosterone levels, which is a male hormone that plays a crucial role in the sexual arousal. Low testosterone levels lead to decreased arousal and sexual performance. Toxins found in cigarettes may also harm the testes. Smoking may affect the semen and the sperm, reducing their mobility and quality. Men who smoke tend to have lower sperm counts and malformed sperms than their non-smoking counterparts.
Many substance founds in cigarettes may harm the ovaries, studies show that women who smoke or have smoked in the past may encounter difficulties getting pregnant with the chances of conceiving being decreased by up to 40% for each menstrual cycle. The longer a woman smokes, the more difficult it would be for her to get pregnant. The effects of smoking on sexual health have been taken for granted since the focus of previous studies have been on the ill effects of smoking on the cardiovascular system. Understanding the adverse effects of smoking on one’s sexual health may become a motivation for many to quit smoking. Joining a program that helps people quit smoking; and consulting a doctor about medications that reduce the craving to smoke may also help. Others succeed by using alternative methods like hypnosis. Although it may be a very hard habit to break, quitting smoking is one of the best things people can do to improve their sex lives and their over-all health.