Why smoking really sucks

Smoking tobacco or nicotine is incredibly harmful to your health. There’s no safe way to smoke and replacing your cigarette with a cigar, pipe, hubby or vape won’t help you avoid the health risks. Here’s more.

You smell like smoke

If you smoke, you’ve probably become used to the smell and don’t realise how strong it is. You may not feel it, but it’s there and often that smoky odour stays on your clothes and belongings.

Loss of smell and taste

Smoking can dull or damage your taste buds. When you smoke, you end up missing out on the unique taste of many foods. You’ll find that those who don’t smoke, generally enjoy their meals more than those who do. Smoking also affects your smell, which contributes to the taste of foods.

Premature ageing

Did you know that smoking speeds up the normal ageing process of your skin. This can contribute to wrinkles, dark marks and other changes to the appearance of your face and body.

Increase infection

Smoking is one of the main risk factors for infections in the respiratory tract, digestive tract and reproductive tract. It also increases your risks of being infected with lung cancer, strokes, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and it can disrupt your entire digestive system.

You’re a danger to others

First-hand smoking and second-hand smoke (being around someone while smoking) both cause serious health effects. While directly smoking is worse, both have impact health. Smoking next to a people around you can harm their health. Just 30 minutes of exposure to second-hand smoke can cause heart damage, similar to that of an everyday smoker.

Impact on physical activity

Smoking affects many aspects of our bodies, including our physical endurance. If you smoke, you get less oxygen in your heart, lungs, and muscles. This reduces your physical fitness, and you may find yourself struggling with basic fitness activities such as walking up stairs.

It’s pricey

Smoking is an expensive habit to maintain. A minimum legal retail price for cigarettes is R28 per pack, which means a pack-a-day habit sets you back over R800 a month. The money smokers spend each day on cigarettes could be better spent on essential items.

Quitting smoking is one of the most important actions you can take to improve your health. Even if you’ve been smoking for years, it’s never too late to quit. You can chat to me here if you need support, or reach out to the following organisations:

CANSA e-Kick Butt Programme – sign up here.

National Council Against Smoking, NCAS on 011 720 3145 or via WhatsApp on 072 766 4812.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

What is stress smoking?

Stress is a part of our everyday life, and we all have ways of coping with stress. Some of these ways are positive, while others can be negative. Smoking may seem as an easy way to cope with stress, but it isn’t a long-term stress reliever, nor is it a healthy way to deal with stress. Here’s more.

Smoking to deal with stress

Some of us may smoke as part of self-medication, to ease feelings of stress. Although smoking creates an immediate sense of relaxation, it can actually increase anxiety and tension in the long run. Stress smoking is not only bad for our health- it can also give way to withdrawal symptoms and increased cravings.

Signs of stress smoking

When a person smokes, nicotine reaches the brain within ten seconds. At first, this improves mood and concentration, decreases anger and stress, relaxes muscles and reduces appetite. However, this can result in withdrawals, making smoking a part of your daily routine. This can lead to long-term health conditions, and even addiction. If you find yourself smoking to relive stress, you may be a stress smoker.

How to quit stress smoking

The best way to quit stress smoking is to identify your stress triggers, recognise your smoking trigger (what causes you to smoke), and replace this habit with a healthier coping mechanism. This may be difficult to do at first, but it’s possible with willpower and support from family and friends. 

Smoking triggers can include: going to a party/club where it’s common to smoke, having friends/family that smoke or constantly having cigarettes or lighters near you. It’s important to avoid such situations where possible.

Smoking is only a temporary solution for handling stress. The only way to truly control stress is to identify what causes the stress and controlling the way you react to stressful events and situations, which includes adopting healthier coping mechanisms.  If you or someone you know wants to quit smoking, you can contact Narcotics Anonymous on 0861006962 or visit your nearest pharmacy for tools that can help you.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

Here’s what you need to know about COVID – 19 and smoking

Every day, scientists and health professionals discover new things about COVID-19. This is a good thing because knowing more about this virus can help us take even better precautionary measures against infection. Just recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) discovered evidence that suggests that there is a link between smoking and COVID-19. Read on to find out what it is.

Smoking affects your respiratory system

Whether it’s tobacco or cannabis (weed), smoking directly affects your lungs. As you may already know, COVID-19 is a virus that attacks the respiratory (breathing) system. This means that when you are infected with the virus, your ability to breathe will be severely compromised. So, if you are a smoker and your lungs are already weakened, getting infected with this virus could cause even more damage to your lungs.

Smoking makes you vulnerable to COVID-19

According to the WHO, being a smoker makes you more vulnerable to COVID-19. Since your hands are always in contact with surfaces that other people use (like door handles and countertops), you are more likely to become infected with the virus when you put cigarettes in your mouth, especially if you have not washed your hands. Sharing weed and cigarettes with other people also increases your risk of getting COVID-19.

In addition, smoking can cause lung infections and affect your breathing, which is dangerous on its own, but could lead to serious illness or even death if you get infected with coronavirus.

Should I quit smoking?

During stage 5 and stage 4 of the lockdown, the president along with the members of parliament, have agreed that it’s best that cigarettes be banned during this time. This decision aligns with WHO’s health guidelines.

While this restriction may sound unfair, it offers you an opportunity to quit smoking, especially if you have been meaning to. To be honest, smoking is not all that cool and it can cause some serious health issues so it’s in your best interest to try to quit if you are a smoker.

If you smoke to deal with stress or anxiety, remember there are healthier ways of coping.

The COVID-19 outbreak has really changed the way we live our lives. While this may be an uncomfortable time to live through, remember that your health is more important. Make sure that you keep updated with department of health.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

Cigarettes vs E-cigarettes & Hubbly: Which is worse?

Smoking is bad for your health – this is a warning that you might see wherever you see cigarettes or read about them. You’ll hear about the damage it causes to your lungs, like the fact that it causes emphysema (a disease of the lungs causing shortness of breath) or lung cancer. You might even hear about the damage it does to your teeth, nails and skin (did you know that smoking might even make acne worse?!). But those are all the warnings you might get about ‘regular cigarettes’ – what about the new, ‘trendier’ ways of smoking, like Hubbly Bubbly (aka. Hookah smoking) or E-cigarette smoking (aka Vaping). These types of smoking might look a little cooler and a little less harmful, but there are actually dangers behind smoking both of these as well. Here are the effects of each choma.

Hubbly Bubbly

Hubbly Bubbly, or hookah smoking, has become very popular. You might have seen people (or maybe even been a part of the group of people) smoking these hubby bubbly at a party or in someone’s house. Even those who prefer not to smoke at all might choose to smoke hubbly because it seemslike it’s much less harmful than the effects of smoking cigarettes and it ‘looks cool’. That couldn’t be further from the truth choma. In fact, here are 3 major myths about hubbly:

Myth 1: Hubbly is less harmful than smoking cigarettes

You’re actually at risk of the same effects and diseases as smoking cigarettes, including cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease. You might think that the water filters the smoke in some way, but it doesn’t chomas. In fact, most people inhale more smoke when smoking a hubbly than they would smoking regular cigarettes. And because you’re more likely to smoke hubbly in a social setting, you’re more likely to smoke it for a longer period of time.

Myth 2: Hubbly is not addictive

Shisha or sheesha tobacco (the mix used in hubbly) is still tobacco choma! It contains all the cancer-causing chemicals found in cigarettes; including nicotine (which is addictive), tar and other harmful chemicals. So just like with any other tobacco product, smoking hubbly often is likely to lead to addiction.

Myth 3: Smoke from Hubbly has fewer toxins

The charcoal burned, often produces its own toxins that include high levels of carbon monoxide (a toxic gas). This toxic gas may cause heart and lung disease. You might think that because the smoke is being filtered by water that all the harmful toxins are being filtered out, but the water does not filter out the cancer-causing chemicals. There are many cancer-causing chemicals associated with smoking hubbly. Many of the chemicals released when smoking hubbly also affect those who are nearby, even if they are not smoking. Since it’s a combination of tobacco and charcoal, it is actually a double dose of toxins.

To find out more about the dangers of smoking hookah, read this article here choma.

E-Cigarettes/ Vaping

 E-cigarettes are often considered to be less harmful than both normal cigarettes and hubbly. People who are trying to quit cigarettes are often badly advised to try e-cigarettes because they’re seen as pure and safe. But in reality, there is more harm to smoking cigarettes than you might realise. Here are some myths about e-cigarettes:

Myth 1: Vapour from e-cigarettes is pure

E-cigarettes may not contain all of the harmful chemicals that are produced when you smoke a cigarette, but they do contain many. Importantly, e-cigarettes still contains nicotine, which is the chemical associated with the most severe effects of smoking. Some studies have also shown that e-cigarettes release other harmful chemicals while you smoke them, not found in cigarettes.

Myth 2: E-cigarettes are safe

You are inhaling toxic chemicals when you smoke an e-cigarette.  The concentrated cartridges are released under pressure to allow them to be “smoked” and there are reported cases of the devices exploding and causing serious injury. Liquid nicotine is also highly poisonous if it comes into direct contact with your body, swallowing it by accident is often fatal. There have been cases where people have accidentally swallowed the liquid nicotine.  Overfilling the cartridge, not holding an e-cigarette properly or inhaling too hard are all things that can cause the e-liquid to leak, leading to you accidentally getting e-liquid in your mouth.

Myth 3: They don’t produce second-hand smoke

Actually, they do choma. As a bystander, you can still be exposed to nicotine and other toxins. Although the exposure from e-cigarette vapour is less than regular cigarettes, it is still harmful choma. This particular myth is a huge problem because those who smoke it often do so in places where smoking cigarettes is prohibited.

To find out more about the dangers of smoking e-cigarettes, read this article here choma.

So, choma, the short answer to what’s better among cigarettes, e-cigarettes and hubbly is all of them are damaging to your health. Neither e-cigarettes nor hubbly are really a good alternative to regular cigarettes. The best thing to do is to not smoke at all.

If you are a smoker try quitting altogether. Remember, always put your health before any trend.

For tips on how to quit smoking cigarettes read this article choma.

How to quit smoking

Quitting smoking is not easy, so just making the decision to do it is a huge step chomas. If you’re reading this right now and have made the decision to quit smoking, congratulate yourself. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your friends and your family.

Most of the time, no one really smokes their first cigarette thinking they would become smokers but once they do, it’s easy to become hooked. Smoking can cause all kinds of damage to your health especially if you start smoking at a very young age. But it’s never too late to quit, so here are ways you can kick the cigarette butt:

  1. Have good reasons to quit

Any reason you can come up with to quit smoking is a good reason because smoking is bad for you, period. However, it can be hard to quit when those around you are offering you cigarettes and pressuring you to continue smoking. It would be a good idea to come up with a reason that helps take the pressure off, such as “I want to stay in shape for sports” or “I don’t like it anymore”. This might help those around you get the picture and stop pressuring you. Knowing that you have a good reason to quit will help you get through each day, knowing that you have a goal you want to achieve.

  1. Get support

It’s a good idea to get your friends and/or family involved when you’re trying to quit because it makes it easier. Friends or family could encourage you when it gets really hard. If you know anyone who has quit smoking, ask them to help you. They should be able to give you advice and motivate you to keep going since they would know better than anyone else how tough it is to quit. Your friends who are still smoking might not offer you the support you need and might actually keep you from quitting so make sure you get the right support. If you can get friend or family member who smokes to join you on your “cigarette-free” mission, then even better.

  1. Get rid of all your cigarettes

It would be difficult to quit smoking if you still have cigarettes around to tempt you. Get rid of every cigarette you have, from the half-smoked ones to the emergency ones. You should also get rid of your lighters and ashtrays. This will also put you in a non-smoker frame of mind because you need to start thinking about yourself as a non-smoker. You should also try your best to get rid of the smell of cigarettes, so wash all your clothes and anything else that still has a cigarette smell.

  1. Know what triggers you

You probably already know by now what type of situations really make you crave a cigarette. Think about ways that you can avoid these situations or handle them differently. For example if you tend to want a cigarette after you eat, do something else after you eat. If you crave a cigarette when you’re worried, call a friend and speak to them instead.

You might also be used to holding a cigarette and putting one in your mouth, stock up on things like lollipops, gum or even toothpicks for whenever you’re craving.

  1. Keep yourself busy

You’ll need a few distractions to keep you from thinking about cigarettes. Wherever it is possible, find something else to do with your time. Now might be a good time to focus on your fitness, so start doing some exercise or take up a sport. The more distracted you are, the less likely you are to crave cigarettes.

If the idea of quitting completely is scary, then just quit gradually. Try to smoke less cigarettes a day, decreasing the number every week or month until you feel comfortable with quitting altogether. Remember, this is a very important decision you’ll be making for your health and it will benefit you in the long run.

Good luck!

Health Risks of E-cigarettes

You may have heard about the growing trend called ‘vapour smoking’, or e-cigarette smoking, which seems to be a replacement for cigarette smoking. E-cigarettes were apparently made for people trying to quit cigarette smoking, which is linked to respiratory diseases such as lung cancer. While this ‘vapour smoking’ trend seems to be a popular substitute for tobacco cigarettes, little is known about the health risks of vapour smoking. Is it truly a safer option to tobacco smoking? Well read on and find out, chomas.

What is an e-cigarette?

An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that changes liquid nicotine into a mist or vapour that the smoker inhales and is designed to look and feel like a normal cigarette. The difference between a normal cigarette and an e-cigarette is there is no fire, ash and smoky smell with e-cigarettes, whereas with cigarette smoking there is all three. E-cigarettes don’t contain all of the harmful chemicals such as tar and carbon monoxide (a toxic gas that can, over long periods of time, result in increased risk of heart disease). However, e-cigarettes still do contain other chemicals such as nicotine.

How do e-cigarettes actually work?

Most e-cigarettes consist of three main components, namely:

  • the vaporizer (or heating device)
  • the cartridge – which holds the liquid solution having various amounts of nicotine, (sometimes) flavourings and other chemicals
  • a power source, usually a battery

A normal cigarette contains nicotine which is an addictive substance. When the cigarette is lit, the person will inhale the smoke which will proceed to go to the lungs. The smoker will then release smoke that contains the nicotine. This process is called combustion – which is the act of burning, in this case, the tobacco.

With e-cigarettes, combustion does not occur, instead there is a nicotine liquid heated and then changes the liquid to a vapour or mist (think of water vapour process, where liquid water is heated and eventually turns into steam) – hence vapour smoking. Usually, the user may just simply inhale from the cartridge to start the vaporization process. Basically, what e-cigarettes do is deliver nicotine into the smoker’s system which is absorbed through the lungs, in a vapour form.

Are there any health risks?

Vapour smoking doesn’t necessarily fill the lungs with harmful smoke but that doesn’t mean they are a healthy alternative to traditional smoking. When e-cigarette smoking, you are still putting the substance, nicotine, into your body.

Nicotine is not only addictive, but it can be toxic if inhaled in high doses – the larger the dosage, the more the person’s blood pressure and heart rate go up. An abnormal heart rate may lead to arrhythmia – this can be serious or even life threatening because the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body. Lack of regular blood flow may damage organs like the heart and brain.

Is quitting possible?

Yes chomas, it is! It may be difficult in the beginning because you will experience nicotine withdrawals – you might start to feel depressed or moody. This is when your cravings for nicotine increase.

If you want to quit smoking, vapour smoking is not your best choice – because it is just as addictive as cigarette smoking. The steps to quitting e-cigarettes are the same as quitting tobacco, here’s how:

  1. Make a plan by setting a date to start the quitting process. You don’t have to go cold turkey (quitting suddenly from the addiction) because this might not work in the long run.
  2. Keep yourself busy through exercise or a hobby.
  3. Stay focused and remind yourself why you quit in the first place. The best way to do this is by writing down the reasons as to why you quit in the first place. Read the list every day to stay motivated.

Love yourself and be proud of taking this step to becoming healthier. It’s hard to quit anything you’re addicted to, so be kind and praise yourself each day for quitting.

What you need to know about Tuberculosis

Some of you might have heard of Tuberculosis, or TB. It’s a bacterial infection that mainly affects the lungs but can be found in other parts of the body. These bacteria are spread through the air from one person to another. But, how would you recognise if you are infected with TB? Here is what you need to know chomas.

How can you get TB?

TB is passed on from person to person. When a person infected with TB sneezes, spits or coughs, the germs are spread in the air and whoever is present will breathe that in. Germs exist in the saliva or mucus and are coughed up by people who have TB of the lungs. These germs may destroy the soft tissue of the lungs which may result in difficulty breathing. Sometimes, blood is coughed up.

However, not all people infected by the germs actually contract TB. Sometimes these germs stay and are contained in the body and don’t multiply. However, if the immune system becomes weak or the body’s defences can no longer control the germs, then the germs will become active, start multiplying and the person will get TB.

Can some people get TB easier than others?

Anyone can get TB chomas. However, your chances of getting TB may increase if you:

  • Are infected with HIV
  • Have been infected with TB bacteria in the past 2 years
  • Abuse alcohol or drugs
  • Did not have correct TB treatment in the past
  • Have other health problems such as diabetes, depression, anxiety, ulcers, etc.

Treatment

TB can be cured, if it’s detected early and treated for 6 months or more. Once diagnosed, medication must start as soon as possible chomas. More importantly, medication must be taken regularly according to the instructions given at the clinic. If you start feeling better, don’t stop taking the medication. For TB to be cured, treatment must be completed.

Can TB be prevented?

Lowering the risk of being infected by TB is possible and this is how:

  • When coughing or sneezing, make sure to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue paper or a sleeve of your arm. Never sneeze or cough on other people and don’t let other people cough, sneeze or spit on you.
  • Always wash hands with soap and water.
  • Keep your body healthy by eating balanced meals like amasi (fermented milk), maize meal, brown bread, vegetables, fruits, fish, eggs, beans and meat. Also, exercise keeps you healthy because it lowers your risk of getting diseases like high blood pressure. It also strengthens your immune system which helps fight off diseases.
  • Avoid alcohol completely as it increases your chances of being sick by lowering the body’s defence system or weakening immune system and it also affects the treatment.
  • Smoking causes more damage to the lungs and can cause lung cancer.
  • People on TB medication must finish their treatment because this prevents the spread of TB.

TB Testing and treatment is free chomas. There is no need to suffer in silence. Visit your local clinic if you think you might be infected with TB. If you have any questions to ask me about TB, you can write in the comment section or send a question via Ask Choma.

The Dangers of Hookah Smoking

If you don’t already know chomas, “hookah smoking” is smoking that involves a water pipe which typically consists of a head that is connected to a water jar. This water jar has an attached hose and mouthpiece. Most people use tobacco and a wet fruit preparation which they place below a burning charcoal in the head of the apparatus. The wet fruit preparation gives the tobacco flavour.

The hookah has many names, the most popular being the ‘hubbly bubbly’, ‘shisa’, ‘argileh’ or the ‘goza’. It looks nothing like a cigarette but, according to health experts smoking a hubbly bubbly or tobacco water pipe for at least an hour is as harmful as smoking up to 200 cigarettes. There is this misconception that smoking hookah is not as harmful as smoking cigarettes.

A hubbly bubbly is almost always used to smoke tobacco and this explains why it carries many of the dangers similar to cigarette smoking. The water does not filter out any of the toxins in the hubbly bubbly.

Hubbly bubblies are so dangerous to your health that they have become the next target in the battle against respiratory diseases in Cape Town. City Health is strategising to seek for more legislative clarity on the hookah. A member of the mayoral committee for health, Councillor Benedicta van Minnen, mentioned that the city would push hard for complete laws to govern the smoking of the hookah pipes.

According to CANSA (The Cancer Association of South Africa), there are three popular myths associated with smoking the hubbly bubbly.

Myth 1: Less harmful than cigarettes

As mentioned earlier, this is not true at all. Hookah smokers, and second hand smokers, are at the risk of the same kind of diseases that are caused by cigarette smoking. These diseases include cancer and heart respiratory diseases. The smoke coming from the hookah has several toxins which are known to cause lung cancer and other diseases. This is according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Myth 2: Hookah smoke is less harmful

Not true! Hookah smokers and second hand smokers (people exposed to the smoke of a hookah smoker) inhale a double dose of toxins. This means that there are two times more toxins found in the hubbly bubbly than in cigarettes.

Myth 3: Not addictive

Tobacco is addictive, you have seen this warning on cigarettes packets, right chomas? This means that the tobacco found in a hubbly bubbly is just as addictive as the tobacco found in cigarettes. The more frequent you smoke a hubbly bubbly, the higher the chance of you being addicted to it.

Smoking a hubbly bubbly is becoming an increasingly popular activity, mainly because it is seen as a fun way to get together with friends but when you’re young, your lungs are still growing and smoking the hookah can cause permanent damage.

Tobacco found in cigarettes is just as dangerous as the tobacco found in the hubbly bubbly, no matter what the flavour. It is not a safe substitute to smoking cigarettes chomas, it can be deadly too.