cover bar Title: The Strange Case of the Smoking Gun
Author: Nick O'Teen
Publisher: Do It Now Foundation
Date: March 2011
Catalog Number: 162


The Strange Case of the Smoking Gun. Think you've got your hands wrapped around a mystery here?

Sorry. There's no mystery to it. But there are plenty of smoking guns. And it is strange.

We should start at the beginning, but not at Square One, because you already know a lot about the main suspect in our case: smoking. Maybe more than you think you know, in fact.

Just think about it: You know it's a habit that both sucks and stinks, since it involves sucking smoke from a stinking paper-and-tobacco tube into the lungs.

And you know it causes health problems -- big-time health disasters, in fact -- including everything from heart disease to lung cancer. That sucks (and stinks), too.

You also probably know that tobacco companies make billions of dollars and spend tons more on advertising.

(There's gotta be a connection there, right?)

And by now, you must have noticed that millions of smokers keep right on puffing away even when everybody knows they're wrecking their health.

Ever wonder why? That's the real mystery that we're here to talk about.

In this pamphlet, we'll look at the mysterious world of smoking from the inside out, and examine how it affects the body and why it causes the problems it does.

We'll also talk about why people start smoking and why so many find it so hard to stop.

Why bother? Self-preservation, for one thing. Sometimes, what you don't know can hurt you.

And when it comes to smoking, what you don't know, can literally eat you alive.

Twisted enough for you?

..The Usual Suspects

Take a look behind the counter at any convenience store. There are so many brands and types of cigarettes that you could almost lose it if you tried to keep track of them all.

There are low-tar and high-tar brands, king size and regular, milds, ultra-lights, extra-longs, imports, and generics.

Sound complicated?

It shouldn't, because basically, they're all the same thing.

That's because they're all made from the same stuff, tobacco -- with a few hundred choice chemical additives thrown in for taste and burn-time and who knows what else.

And they all pose the same risks to health, too.

..Body of Evidence

Even Joe Camel had to know that health risks rise from the moment that cigarette smoke enters the body. But he never said a word.

And what a story he didn't tell. Consider: When a smoker lights up, a sticky fog of tar, gases, and other chemicals flash across the lips and mouth to the lungs.

There, the gases mix with oxygen, and pass into the bloodstream. From there, they zip to all parts of the body, making the heart pound harder and the lungs pump even faster in the process.

The smoker may feel more alert or relaxed, more focused or calm.

If you think that sounds like something a drug would do, you're right. That's because tobacco contains nicotine and nicotine is a drug. A real one.

And like all kinds of other drugs, nicotine is addicting. That means a smoker's body gets so used to it so quickly that it begins to depend on it.

That's why most smokers who go without their favorite poison for even a few hours start to feel tense: They're going through a form of drug withdrawal.

And the discomfort of withdrawal -- the jitters, restlessness, and craving-makes smoking a hard habit to beat.

And a good habit to avoid. Not much of a mystery there, either.

..Building a Case

Need more clues to build your own case against smoking?

Let's do some real detective work, then, and look at some of the ways smoking affects the body, starting on the outside and working our way in.

For starters, smoking causes wrinkles -- mostly because it reduces bloodflow to the skin. It also stains teeth and fingers.

Other problems are way more serious -- cancer, for one.

Smoking-related cancers can hit any part of the body -- including the lungs, lips, tongue, stomach, and esophagus, to name but a few.

Smoking also causes other types of lung disease, such as emphysema, along with heart disease and stroke.

Many of the health problems linked to smoking don't happen all at once -- and some don't happen for years.

Still, that doesn't mean they won't happen.

In fact, if you want to know how deadly cigarettes are, just think of this: In the United States, more than 1,200 people die from smoking every day.

If that doesn't make an impression, look at it this way:

Cigars and cigarettes kill as many people as six 200-passenger jumbo jets crashing, leaving no survivors. And not just once in a while, but every day.

A real catastrophe, huh?

Yeah, well, that's smoking, for you.

..Other Culprits

Because of all the problems linked to cigarettes, a lot of former smokers switched to smokeless tobacco, thinking that smokeless tobacco had to be safer than cigarettes. But they were wrong

Because even though you don't smoke snuff or chewing tobacco (nothing that gooey can burn), they both contain nicotine and the same gunk as cigarettes.

They also carry many of the same risks, too.

And since a lot of people start chewing tobacco or "dipping" snuff when they're teens, this means they get to start having health problems -- throat cancer, sores on the lips and gums, the works-earlier in life.

Others have tried to beat the reaper by switching to clove cigarettes-those little funky brown numbers made with tobacco and spices and other "natural" flavorings (as if that makes any difference).

Because even though clove cigarettes may smell sweet (if your idea of "sweet" is an incense bomb dropped on some local Cinnabon stand), they usually contain more tar, nicotine, and other good stuff than regular cigarettes.

Just what the world's been waiting for: Super Cigarettes.

(As if the regular ones aren't already bad enough)

..Final Twists

In a real mystery, this is the point where the tireless detective would light a pipe, recap the evidence, untangle the twists of the tale, and watch the culprit start squirming.

But since we've already made the point that there's not much of a real mystery here (and since our hero doesn't smoke a pipe), we'll just recap all the good reasons for smoking.

Oh, that's right, there aren't any. Diehard smokers will even tell you that. Oh, sure, there are reasons-like wanting to look older or wilder, or to fit in with (we suppose) old, wild people.

There just aren't any good reasons.

On the other hand, there are great reasons not to start. And there are just as many great reasons to stop now if you already smoke.

Think about it. And you really do need to think about it. Because tobacco companies have slick ad agencies and billion-dollar promotional budgets to get their message across and hide their smoking guns.

We've only got each other to remind ourselves how truly twisted it is that people still buy the same old lie, and end up sucking on burning tubes of cancer-causing gunk until they croak, choke, or go broke.

So why is smoking still around? It's a mystery to us. We told you that it's a strange case: You'll just have to solve it for yourself.

This is one in a series of publications on drugs, behavior, and health by Do It Now Foundation.
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