Since the discoveries of bacteria and penicillin, infectious diseases have been less and less threatening to human health. At the same time, individual behavior choices, especially risky behaviors, have gained more importance with regard to the occurrence of today’s health problems.
Cigarette smoking is one example that is widespread in the world. The U.S. Surgeon General reported that “smoking is now known to be causally related to a variety of cancers in addition to lung cancer; it is a cause of cardiovascular disease, particularly coronary heart disease, and is the major cause of chronic obstructive lung disease” . Another report from the U.S. Surgeon General indicated that, on the average, the overall mortality of male smokers was about 70% higher than that of nonsmokers.
The high mortality rate was related to the number of years of smoking, amount of smoking, and the initiation age. In other words, the more, the longer, and the earlier people start to smoke, a higher the mortality rate can be expected. He also reported that heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive lung disease, which are cigarette-smoking related diseases, were the major contributors to the higher mortality rate among smokers. In addition to these three diseases, smoking also contributes to the occurrence of peripheral vascular disease, cancers, peptic ulcer disease, and reproductive disturbances, including prematurity.
Cigarette smoking will do harm even to experimental smokers. For these beginners, it will cause reduced lung function, smoker’s cough, and other respiratory difficulties. It is estimated that 75% of coronary heart disease (CHD) problems and 30% of CHD deaths can be attributed to cigarette smoking. This is why “cigarette smoking should be considered the most important of the known modifiable risk factors for coronary heart disease in the United States”.
Cigarette smoking can also increase the chances of mortality resulting from peripheral vascular disease, stroke, aortic atherosclerosis, and other problems.