The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Speaker denounces cigarettes for Great American Smokeout on SE

By Khanh Nguyen/reporter

About 400,000 deaths each year in the United States are preventable, a representative from Tarrant County Public Health said Nov. 15.

Keisha Leatherman helped kick start the Great American Smokeout on SE Campus with a presentation on tobacco awareness.

“For a student of mine, it became a problem when it crossed the line from being ‘I want it’ to ‘I need it,’” she said.

A lit cigarette, no longer than 3 inches in length and a centimeter in width, contains more than 4,000 chemicals and, among those chemicals, 43 known carcinogens, or cancer-causing substances, Leatherman said. To make the cigarette as potent as possible, it contains ammonia and phenol, which are found in household cleaners; formaldehyde, an embalming fluid; and cyanide, literally a poison. Then there is nicotine, an addictive stimulant found in tobacco plants that provides the pleasure smokers rely on, she said.

But nicotine only creates a false sense of pleasure, Leatherman said. It only mocks what is already available naturally in the human body when released through healthier activities, like exercising.

The introduction of nicotine disrupts and alters the normal state of mind into extremity, she said. It forges a cycle of needing to smoke to pacify cravings and mood swings even when unprovoked.

Tobacco companies spend $11 billion a year in marketing and advertising to make sure their product is everywhere and depended upon, a necessity for leisure in people’s lives. Most of the time, it works, Leatherman said.

Smoking can cost up to $1,850 a year — $9,250 in five years. However, smokers pay with more than just money, Leatherman said. The immediate costs to a smoker include looks, strength and the body’s ability to heal and fight common illnesses. Long-term costs include increased risk of many cancers, emphysema, heart attacks, strokes, erectile dysfunction in men and fertility problems in women. Secondhand smoke extends these risks to loved ones, she said.

Most of those 400,000 tobacco usage deaths did not have to happen because they’re linked to a lifestyle choice, Leatherman said. Lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths, for the most part, is preventable.

“If you’re a smoker and need a reason to quit? That person in the mirror,” she said. “People need to do it for themselves.”

The incentives for quitting are endless, but it all starts with the individual. Having motivation and self-control is easier said than done, but it does not have to be a complicated process, Leatherman said. She suggested three steps: realizing why the individual wants to quit, figuring out a method that’s best fit for him or her to accomplish the goal and maintaining a smoke-free lifestyle afterward.

Quitting smoking is an important and difficult decision, Leatherman said. On average, a person fails at least six times before meeting his goal, and that’s OK. Trial-and-error is essential to success, she said. Being smoke-free for 24 hours already reduces the chance of having a heart attack, and in 72 hours, energy increases. In a year, the risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a current smoker.

Even if it takes longer, the end result is simply worth it, Leatherman said.

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