e cigarette injuries can be as simple as a single puncture or punctured tooth, and the same goes for the cigarettes themselves.
According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2013, an estimated 4.2 million people died from tobacco-related causes, and a further 2.8 million people had been diagnosed with other tobacco-induced diseases.
And the number of people who die each year from the nicotine and combustion products is set to grow.
But while smoking is the single biggest killer of the young, people who have recently had a cigarette or two are at risk of a different kind of harm.
In 2012, more than 40% of the population aged between 20 and 34 died from the tobacco-associated disease, according to the World Health Organization.
The proportion of people aged 35 and older with a chronic tobacco-caused disease has risen to almost 10%, according to a report by the Commonwealth Fund.
And these figures only account for people who are dying from the effects of tobacco.
According the International Agency for Research on Cancer, more people die from lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other conditions each year than from any other cause of death.
The biggest contributor to this rise in disease burden is tobacco smoke, which causes the body to release compounds known as carcinogens that can damage the body and cause cancer.
And these chemicals can be deadly for those with weakened immune systems, such as those who are allergic to nicotine or are at high risk of heart disease.
“Smoking is one of the main causes of lung cancer.
Tobacco smoke contains compounds that are highly toxic and can cause a wide range of symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, and asthma,” says the Centre for Tobacco Control Research and Education.”
In recent years, we’ve seen a significant increase in cases of COPD [co-morbidity and mortality with smoking], which is a lung disease that is linked to asthma,” explains Dr Mark Freedman, a professor of clinical medicine at University College London.”
There are also many other chronic conditions, including diabetes, arthritis, and obesity that can lead to premature death.”
While the causes of smoking-related disease are not fully understood, many of the compounds that cause this damage are found in cigarette smoke.
The most common are nitrosamines, nitrosoguanidine, and formaldehyde, which can cause irritation, and nitrosamides, which formaldehyde can release.
“It’s very likely that the compounds in cigarette smoking are all contributing to the rise in chronic disease, which has resulted in an explosion in lung cancer cases,” says Dr Freedman.
So, how can we prevent the harm?
The best way to prevent the effects and complications of smoking, is to switch to a healthier lifestyle, says Dr Marcus Dutkiewicz, a leading tobacco researcher and director of the Tobacco Research Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“Many smokers, especially young people, do not understand that smoking causes disease and they’re often reluctant to take steps to control it,” he says.
“A lot of smokers are reluctant to use safer cigarettes that are made with tobacco ingredients, like nicotine, that are known to be harmful.”
“We’ve known for a long time that the most effective way to control smoking is to stop smoking,” he adds.
“So the best way for people to quit smoking is not to smoke cigarettes, but to change their diet and lifestyle, which may help reduce their exposure to the chemicals that are in cigarettes.”
So how can you make the switch?
One key to quitting smoking is reducing the amount of nicotine in your diet, Dr Freedmans suggests.
“Most of the chemicals in cigarette cigarettes are the same as those in tobacco,” he explains.
“For example, nicotine is the same in both.
And we know that in smokers, nicotine can have long-term effects on health.””
So if you reduce your intake of tobacco-containing products and start using a lower nicotine-rich diet, your body will naturally produce less of these carcinogens and you will avoid developing chronic diseases like COPD,” he concludes.
Dr Freedman recommends avoiding high-fibre, high-sugar, and processed foods, and replacing them with healthier ingredients like beans, lentils, and whole grains.
“It’s also important to eat a balanced diet,” he stresses.
“We know that we have a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease if we eat a plant-based diet, like beans and lentils,” he continues.
“We’re also advised to eat less meat and dairy and to eat fish.”
As you’re reducing your intake, your metabolism will become more efficient and you can feel more energised.
You need to get enough fibre and fibre