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No Visible Damage from Smoking; Their Bodies are Still Suffering

Written by: Wendy Moelker, Psychologist in charge, tutor, Emergis center for mental health care, Goes, the Netherlands.

First version: 22 Jul 2008. Latest revision: 24 Jul 2008.


 How is it possible that some people don't seem to suffer visible damage from smoking?


It may seem that some smokers don't suffer from anything, but their bodies are really suffering from the devastating effects of tobacco smoke. Airways, lungs, heart and blood vessels suffer daily from the effects of the intake of numerous damaging substances. Almost all smokers cough more than healthy non-smokers. By coughing, the body tries to remove the filth from the lungs. This is called smoker's cough. Most smokers ignore that. But it is, in fact, a sign that something is very wrong: chronic bronchitis or the beginning of that.

Other smoker's diseases are not noticeable in advance. A heart infarct seemingly happens to somebody unexpectedly. The fact that some people don't seem to have been hit by these symptoms doesn't mean that they are immune to tobacco smoke. It certainly doesn't prove that smoking is harmless for one's health. It proves at the very most that some people are apparently less troubled by the damaging effects of smoking than others.

A well-known example in the immediate surroundings appeals more to most people than data and figures obtained from large and long-lasting research. That same exceptional person is likely to be known by many others as well.

A number of investigations have demonstrated that the chance of getting diseases of the lungs, respiratory organs and heart and blood circulation are much larger for smokers than for non-smokers. Half of all deaths due to this kind of smoker's diseases are caused by smoking. In the Netherlands nearly 1% of all deaths are caused by smoking.

Many smokers forget that they don't only live shorter; the quality of their lives also deteriorates considerably. Smoker's diseases can make people disabled for a long time. Only 10 to 15% of heavy smokers have reasonable health at the age of 60.

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