The reasons are endless, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that adult male smokers lost an average of 13.2 years of life and female smokers lost 14.5 years because of smoking.
The main health problems and diseases associated with smoking include:
- Cancer: It is common knowledge that smoking can cause lung cancer. Most cases of lung cancer (close to 90% in men, and 80% in women) are caused by cigarette smoking. However, smoking is also a risk factor for cancer of the mouth, voice box, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, and stomach.
- Heart attacks, blood vessel diseases, and stroke: Smokers are twice as likely to die from a heart attack, and are at an increased risk for peripheral vascular disease (a narrowing of the blood vessels that carry blood to the leg and arm muscles). Smoking also affects the walls of the blood vessels that deliver blood to the brain, which can lead to stroke.
- Lung diseases: Smoking increases the risk of lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. This group of illnesses falls under the umbrella of the term COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which causes chronic illness and disability and can be fatal.
- Blindness and other problems: Smokers put themselves at a greater risk for macular degeneration, a common cause of blindness in older people. Smoking also has a number of unattractive side affects such as premature skin wrinkling, bad breath, tooth and gum problems, yellow fingernails, and a general unpleasant smell that becomes attached to clothing and hair. Nicotine addiction alienates its victims by separating them from the (non-smoking) majority in order to smoke and by causing these unappealing qualities.