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March 6th, 2012:

Smoking affects the entire body

Tobacco products were removed from direct view in shops across Finland from Sunday. The Tobacco Act was tightened because the effects of smoking are felt from head to toe.

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By Päivi Repo

If you haven’t done it already, now might be an opportune time to quit the habit, either cold turkey or with the aid of gum, pastilles, or nicotine patches.
From the turn of the year, cigarettes ceased to be visible in shops in Finland. With the tightening of the Tobacco Act, tobacco products or their brand labels can no longer be displayed in stores and kiosks, but the buyer has to request the product.
Outlets of the R-Kiosk chain were already installing the cabinets a few weeks in advance of the deadline, with sliding doors that had to be opened in order to see the products.

Behind the tighter regulations lies strong scientific evidence: smoking is the most important preventable cause of death in the western world.
Smoking doubles the risk of death among those under the age of 65.
Smoking increases the risk of several cancer types. The most significant one is lung cancer, which kills a couple of thousand Finns each year. Especially among women, the incidence of lung cancer is on the up.
Even if the treatment outcomes for many cancer types are nowadays fairly good, with lung cancer the prognosis continues to be weak. A year after the disease has been diagnosed, fewer than half of the patients are still alive. After five years, only 8 per cent of the male and 13 per cent of the female patients are still with us.

The effects of smoking are not limited to the lungs alone. The nicotine that tobacco contains is absorbed quickly by the blood circulation and it brings about a sense of pleasure within seven seconds.
The muscles relax, the nervous system calms down, and bowel function quickens. Small doses of nicotine invigorate, large doses debilitate.
In addition to nicotine, smoking also causes a person to inhale carbon monoxide and other toxic substances.
Five years of smoking provides nearly half a kilogram of tar, tens of spoonfuls of toxic arsenic, and dozens of other carcinogenic substances.

Apart from the toxins, smoking also brings in its wake three different types of dependency: physical, mental, and social.
The physical dependency establishes itself quickly and soon becomes strong, especially among those who start smoking at an early age.
“The brain chemistry changes permanently”, says University of Helsinki and Finnish Institute of Occupational Health Professor Kari Reijula.
After five years of smoking, smoking dependency is as strong as a drug addiction. Some people say it is even stronger, owing to the fact that unlike the use of narcotics, smoking is socially acceptable, albeit the pressures are mounting on this front and many smokers increasingly feel like pariahs in polite company.

How strong the dependency is depends on a person’s age as well as hereditary factors. According to a new Finnish doctoral thesis, some people are particularly predisposed to becoming addicted to smoking because of heredity.
Hereditary factors also have a say when it comes to how many cigarettes a person smokes per day, and how easy or difficult it is for him to quit smoking.
The tobacco industry adds aroma and chemical substances into tobacco that speed up nicotine’s absorption and circulation in the body, thus increasing a person’s dependency on it, a recent American study has revealed.
A person who tries to quit smoking also has to overcome the mental and social dependency. Smoking is often associated with certain situations and company, and after quitting one has to adopt a new way of behaving in those situations.

The effects of smoking vary from one body part to the next (as marked on the accompanying image):

In the brain, smoking causes permanent changes to the nerve cells or neurons of the brain tissue. The brain becomes more receptible to nicotine and starts to crave it. Owing to the changes, nicotine is perceived as stimulating, pleasure-provoking, and appetite-suppressing.

Nicotine weakens the surface circulation and metabolism of the skin. The skin becomes thinner and loses some of its elasticity. Wrinkles start to appear especially in the face, and a smoker appears older than his actual age.
The healing of cuts and wounds slows down. The risk of skin cancer grows.

A smoker’s nails may turn yellow as the chemicals contained by tobacco are passed into them.

Mouth and teeth
The tar that cigarettes contain stains teeth and is absorbed by the cracks in dental enamel. The formation of tartar and plaque is accelerated. Prevalence of gingivitis and diseases of the tooth attachment tissue increases. With boys who smoke, more dental caries occurs. The chemical composition of saliva changes.
The sense of taste is weakened, as is the sense of smell. The risk of mouth cancer increases.

The risk of throat cancer increases.

Nicotine narrows the coronary arteries, which provide the heart with oxygen. Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease, cardiac arrest, and heart-related sudden death. One in three cardiovascular diseases is caused by smoking.
Smoking increases a coronary artery disease patient’s risk of dying of his illness by a factor of six. Women who smoke and use birth control pills have an increased risk of suffering from a coronary thrombosis or stroke.

The tar-substances contained in cigarette smoke destroy the cilia on the inner surface of the lungs. The secretion of mucus increases. The elasticity of the lung tissue decreases. Cells of the alveolar wall are destroyed.
In the long term, smoking narrows the bronchi. Every second smoker develops a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Equally many will contract chronic bronchitis, the symptoms of which include morning coughing and increased risk of catching the ‘flu. Asthma is worsened by smoking and allergic reactions become more common.
Ninety per cent of all cases of lung cancer occur with people who smoke.

Smoking weakens the muscles and support tissues of the body, because they receive less oxygen.
The prevalence of back pains and sciatica increases. Smoking depresses the function of the cells that form bone tissue, thus rendering bones more brittle. The risk of fractures increases. Fractures of the radius, vertebrae, and the hip, in particular, become more common.

Blood vessels
Smoking increases a person’s blood pressure, causing high blood pressure or hypertension. Two thirds of all the cases of arterial disease attacks are associated with smoking. Such attacks include stroke, cerebrovascular disorders, and the arterial disease of the lower extremities that manifests itself as intermittent claudication (impairment in walking, or pain, discomfort or tiredness in the legs).
Only a couple of cigarettes per day already double the risk of contracting a vascular disease.

The risk of cancer of the oesophagus increases. The incidence of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) also increases because smoking suppresses the activity of the lower sphincter of the oesophagus.

The risk of pancreatic cancer increases.

The risk of liver cancer increases.

Smokers have more helicobacter pylori bacteria on their stomach lining compared with the rest of the population. The prevalence of stomach and duodenal ulcers is higher. The risk of stomach cancer increases.

The incidence of incontinence increases. The risk of bladder cancer increases.

Women who smoke are two to three times as likely to contract cervical cancer than women who do not smoke. The resistance to human papillomavirus (PV) weakens.

A woman who smokes is more likely to remain childless than a woman who does not smoke. Nicotine and other compounds in the cigarette smoke are transported to the foetus. They increase the risk of nervous system damage. The risks of miscarriage and premature childbirth increase. A child of a mother who smokes remains 150-400 grams lighter than a child of a non-smoker. The developing teeth also remain smaller than normal.
Smoking can reduce the amount of breast milk and its fat and nutritional content. The risk of sudden infant death syndrome increases. The infant’s development may be slower.

The ovaries
The level of oestrogen produced by the ovaries will decrease in the body. Women who smoke reach their menopause 2-4 years earlier than the norm.

Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 2.1.2012

Effects of stick design features on perceptions of characteristics of cigarettes



To examine the extent (if any) that cigarette stick dimension, tipping paper design and other decorative design/branding have on Australian smokers’ perceptions of those cigarettes.


An internet survey of 160 young Australian adult ever-smokers who were shown computer images of three sets of cigarette sticks—five sticks of different lengths and diameters (set A), five sticks with different tipping paper design (set B) and four sticks of different decorative design (set C). Branding was a between-subjects randomised condition for set C. For each set, respondents ranked sticks on most and least attractive, highest and lowest quality and strongest and weakest taste.


Cigarette sticks were perceived as different on attractiveness, quality and strength of taste. Standard stick length/diameter was perceived as the most attractive and highest quality stick, with men more inclined to rate a slim stick as less attractive. A stick with a cork-patterned tipping paper and a gold band was seen as most attractive, of highest quality and strongest in taste compared to other tipping designs. Branded sticks were seen as more attractive, higher in quality and stronger tasting than non-branded designs, regardless of brand, although the effects were stronger for a prestige compared with a budget brand.


Characteristics of the cigarette stick affect smokers’ perceptions of the attributes of those cigarettes and thus are a potential means by which product differentiation can occur. A comprehensive policy to eliminate promotional aspects of cigarette design and packaging needs to include rules about stick design.