Sports & Fitness

An ounce of Prevention

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Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body. It causes most cases of lung cancer and affects the immune system#s functions. It is also linked to fertility reduction and cataracts. The American Medical Association (AMA) reports that a new statement by the Surgeon General says that #the health impact of tobacco use goes far beyond the lungs and other organs traditionally considered

at risk.#

Carcinogens in tobacco smoke damage the genes that control the growth of cells, causing either abnormal growth or harmful rapid reproduction, and smoking is also linked to stomach, cervix and pancreas cancers.

But how are those of us who don#t smoke affected? Smoking goes beyond just the person doing it. Secondhand smoke is the third leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Medical Association. Just being exposed to smoke can increase your risk for lung cancer and heart disease and cause serious respiratory problems in children. It#s also being linked to sudden infant death syndrome and low birth weight.

Perhaps one of the most critical areas today is that of teen smoking. Thousands of dollars are spent each year on cigarette advertising and marketing campaigns targeting teens. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the most preferred cigarette brand among ages 12-17, Marlboro, is also one of the three most heavily advertised brands in the U.S. Research has also been done showing the highest levels of advertising occur in places where teens are most likely to visit # at retail stores like gas stations.

Take a look at these facts

presented by the AMA:

” Nicotine is an addictive drug found in cigarettes.

” Approximately 80 percent of smokers started before they were 18.

” Most teens can buy cigarettes, even though it is illegal in all 50 states to sell to minors.

” Chewing tobacco is not a safe alternative.

Even though leading tobacco companies like Philip Morris have launched campaigns to teach kids about smoking, parents still need to be informed and ensure their kids know the dangers of smoking. Talk to your kids while they#re still young # most who try to smoke are around the age of 11 or 12. Be educated and pass that information on to your teen. They most likely haven#t thought about the cancer or health problems that occur over the years. Let them know that smoking won#t help their self-image, like the showy, glamorous ads try to prove. Give your kids some rules. They need to know you#re concerned about them, and that if they break those rules, consequences follow. And if you smoke, quit. Children of parents that smoke are apt to become smokers also.