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Posted by Dr. Jacqueline E. Campbell in Smoking.
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In the 1550’s when Jean Nicot, the French diplomat promoted the importation and cultivation of tobacco because of its perceived medicinal properties ,little did he know that he was helping to unleash one of the greatest poisons on mankind. In those days, tobacco was treated as a medicine and many claims were made of its fantastic curative powers – it was reported to be effective in the treatment of ulcers, asthma,  rheumatism and headaches.  In 1604 King James I of England wrote an anti- tobacco treatise called “A Counterblaste to Tobacco” in which he expressed his distaste for tobacco, particularly tobacco smoking. He stated that smoking affects “the inward parts of man ,soiling and infecting them with a vicious and oily kind of Soote , as hath been found in some great tobacco takers , that after their death opened”.   He even commented on the effects of second hand smoke.

We now know that King James I was correct in his warnings about the ill effects of tobacco use. Tobacco use is now one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced and is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Worldwide, tobacco use claims nearly five million lives a year and is projected to kill one billion people this century unless current trends are reversed. Globally, the use of tobacco products is increasing in developing countries with more than 80% of the world’s smokers now living in low – and middle-income countries; use is decreasing in high-income countries. In the Caribbean it has been estimated that about 15% of youths and 10 – 15% of the population over age 15 years use tobacco. If adult smoking rates are cut by 50 percent worldwide, more than 300 million deaths could be prevented within the next 50 years.

Tobacco is a plant grown for its leaves, which are smoked, chewed, or sniffed for a variety of effects.  When burned, tobacco leaves produce a smoke containing roughly 4000 (four thousand) chemicals. These include over 19 known cancer-causing chemicals (collectively known as “tar) and more than 4,000 other chemicals including acetone, ammonia, carbon monoxide, cyanide, methane, propane, and butane. Tobacco is considered an addictive substance because it contains nicotine, a chemical that principally affects the nervous system. Nicotine’s effects are complex and include stimulation or sedation, depending on the amount inhaled and on the smoker’s state of mind. When used over a long period, tobacco and related chemicals such as tar and nicotine can increase the risk of:

• blood clots, which may lead to strokes

• cancer (especially in the lung, mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix)

• angina and heart attacks

• high blood pressure

• chronic bronchitis and emphysema

• poor healing of wounds

• miscarriage, premature labour, low birth weight

• sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

• gum diseases

The risks are the same if smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco, snuff) is used for a long time. In addition, smokeless tobacco users have a 50 times greater risk for mouth cancer than those who do not use such products.


Those who are regularly around the smoke of others (secondhand smoke) have a higher risk of developing irritations of the eye, nose, throat, and respiratory tract, coronary artery disease and lung cancer. Infants and children exposed to second hand smoke are at risk of developing frequent upper respiratory tract infections, ear infections, and asthma (in fact whenever a child keeps visiting my practice with recurrent colds, wheezing or ear infections, I always ask the caregiver “Who smokes at your house?”.  In variably there is a smoker in the house.


It does not stop there as experts have identified a related threat to children’s health that is not easy to get rid of- third-hand smoke.

That term is used to describe the invisible yet toxic brew of gases and particles clinging to smokers’ hair and clothing, cushions and carpeting, that lingers long after second hand smoke has cleared from a room. The residue includes some of the thousands of chemicals produced by burning tobacco. Small children are especially susceptible to third-hand smoke exposure because they can inhale these chemicals when they crawl and play on, touch and place their mouth contaminated surfaces.


The establishment of the Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control was spearheaded by the Heart Foundation of Jamaica and launched on May 31, World No Tobacco Day, 2002. The Heart Foundation of Jamaica/Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control Project‘s primary objective is to achieve a strong CARICOM (Caribbean Community and Common Market) cigarette labeling standard and to ensure implementation of the standard in four target countries:  Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. The Project aims to ensure the implementation of rotating picture-based package warnings on tobacco products sold in Caribbean countries, of a minimum size of 50% of the top of each main face of the packaging. Picture based health warnings on tobacco packaging deliver important information directly to smokers, motivating them to stop smoking. These health warnings also inform potential adolescent smokers of the harms of tobacco use and inform smokers of the dangers of second hand smoke. These measures are inexpensive for governments to implement and tobacco companies pay the costs of printing them. Large health warnings also reduce the attractiveness of cigarette packages and help create an environment where smoking is less acceptable. World No Tobacco Day is observed worldwide each year on May 31. This year’s theme is “Tobacco Health Warnings”.


The benefits of quitting smoking are substantial and include a decrease in the risk of heart attack, stroke, chronic lung disease and cancer.

Smokers who are quitting report intermittent cravings for cigarettes. The physical and psychological reactions related to smoking cessation, unlike some other drug withdrawals, are not life-threatening but can be barriers to quitting smoking. On quitting, a number of symptoms may occur. Here are some tips to deal with them.

Symptom: Cough

Cause: Body is getting rid of mucous which has blocked airways.

What to Do: Drink plenty of fluids, take cough drops or cough syrup

Symptom: Lightheadedness, Headache.

Cause: More oxygen in system and less carbon monoxide.

What to Do: Be careful when getting up and changing positions. Take pain killers, increase water intake.

Symptom: Irritability

Cause: Body is craving nicotine.

What to Do: Relaxation exercises, walk, cut down on caffeine.

Symptom: Insomnia

Cause: Nicotine affects brain wave function.

What to Do: Relaxation exercises, cut down on caffeine

Symptom: Difficulty concentrating.

Cause: Body needs time to adjust to lack of stimulation from nicotine.

What to Do: Plan workload, avoid additional stress, relaxation exercises.

Symptom: Hunger, increased appetite.

Cause: Craving for cigarettes may be confused with hunger pangs.

What to Do: Drink water and low-calorie drinks, eat low calorie snacks

If you relapse, do not give up. Many smokers quit a few times before achieving success.

DR. JACQUELINE E. CAMPBELL B.Sc. (Hons) M.Phil. (Pharmacology) M.B., B.S.

Dr. Jacqueline Elaine Campbell is a family physician whose special interests are Pharmacology, and the use of Alternative/Complementary Medicine in the treatment of diabetes and other diseases that are common in Jamaica.

She is the author of A Patient’s Guide to the Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus.




1. THE PERILS OF TOBACCO « Dr J Campbell Wellness Guide | Smokeless Tobacco News - June 22, 2010

[…] and to ensure implementation of the standard in four … … Go here to read the rest: THE PERILS OF TOBACCO « Dr J Campbell Wellness Guide ← Smokeless cigarettes all new alternative to quit […]

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