Effects of Smoking Cigarettes on General Health

This topic submitted by Matt Connor, Alexis Evans, Meghan Feran, Mike Moore, Laurie Perrin (wombat909@hotmail.com) at 11:09 pm on 9/29/00. Additions were last made on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Section: Cummins


Mike Moore, Matt Connor, Laurie Perrin, Meghan Feran, and Alexis Evans
WCP 121 A
Student-Generated Lab Proposal

Introduction:
Smoking is one of the largest problems in the United States. There are constant lawsuits over the effects smoking has on people. Smoking is the largest leading cause of death in the US; it causes many different kinds of diseases and health problems. In college dorms we are all living in a small space where different people have different preferences. This leads to the question of just how much effect does smoking cigarettes have on general health.
To narrow down the study, we choose to pick a few health factors to test and prove our hypothesis. We believe that a first-hand smoker will suffer worse the worst consequences. In order to test this we will need a significant pool of people who smoke. These people can be found in the designated smoking dorms. Another issue we will confront is the effects of smoke on non-smokers. There will be those that live in a smoking dorm, and those that live in a non-smoking dorm. We predict that those who live in a smoking dorm or are frequently around smokers will suffer a decrease in health over time. Those who do not encounter second-hand smoke frequently will show no difference in health conditions.
From media we are aware that smoking cigarettes has an effect on health. We want to further examine the specifics on people, challenging the facts with our own data. We hope that this will hit home more when smokers find out truly how much damage we predict smoking cigarettes causes. By determining our data from research off of our peers, this should be more effective than a less personal statistic in the media.

Relevance of Topic
Cigarette smoking kills over 400,000 people a year, making it “the largest preventable cause of death and disability in developed countries”(National Cancer Institute, 1). Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack to up to five times the normal risk. This occurs as a result of smoke lowering the quantities of antioxidants in the bloodstream, which help to protect the heart. Without antioxidants in the bloodstream, or with lowered amounts, the heart is more prone to disease. Smoking also increases the risk of emphysema and cancer. In addition, it is not only smokers who are affected by smoke. Passive or second hand smokers run the same health risks as smokers just from inhaling other’s cigarettes smoke, including increased risk of heart disease. Second-hand smoke also has tentative links to diverse ailments such as various cancers, strokes, sudden infant death syndrome, and an increase in the effects of cystic fibrosis and asthma.
Cigarette smoking should affect blood pressure and heart rate because nicotine narrows the blood vessels that lead to extremities on the body, forcing the heart to work harder to supply blood to these extremities. This helps to explain why so many smokers are prone to strokes and aneurysms.
Although many studies have been done to prove that smoking is dangerous to the health of both smokers and non-smokers, and most smokers will admit that smoking is not a healthy activity, there has not been a significant decline in the number of smokers, with the amount of people who start smoking balancing out the number of smokers who quit smoking or die.
For all of these reasons, our student-generated lab is pertinent and important, especially within our peer group. Recent surveys indicate that 44.1% of eighth-graders, 44.1% of tenth-graders, and 64.6% of high school seniors have smoked at least one cigarette. 17.5 % of eighth-graders, 25.7% of tenth-graders, and 34.6% of seniors smoke regularly, and 3.3% of eighth-graders, 7.6% of tenth-graders, and 13.2% of seniors smoke at least a pack per day. These figures, taken from a 1999 survey of Michigan students, seems somewhat frightening, as they indicate that, by age 18, almost one-third of the population smokes. The problem is not confined solely to Michigan, or the United States, for that matter. Smoking is prevalent worldwide as well, making our research relevant not only on a local, but a global scale.
There is evidence that quitting smoking at an early age (or never beginning) greatly reduces any long-term detrimental health effects. It is our hope that the results of our study, since they will be taken from the Western population, will hit “close to home” and further encourage people to stop smoking. In addition, we hope that smokers will realize the harmful effect that their smoking has on nonsmokers and will make a conscious effort not to smoke in nonsmoking areas.

SURVEY QUESTIONS
1. Gender?
2. Weight (if you don’t mind us asking)?
3. Have you smoked at least 100 cigarettes in your life?
4. Do you smoke now?
5. About how long has it been since you last smoked cigarettes regularly?
6. Do you live with someone who smokes?
7. Do you live in a smoking or non-smoking dorm?
8. How often are/were you recently exposed to cigarette smoke?
9. During the past year have you had any upper respiratory infections? If so, how many?
10. Please rate your health level from on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the healthiest, and 1 being the least healthy)

DATA SHEET
We will test around 40 students from around Western Campus, measuring heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration rate. The subjects will have the measurements taken before and after the short exercise. For the short exercise, the subjects will walk up a flight a stairs at a fast pace and they will stop at a set point. We will also measure their heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration rate before and after smoking a cigarette. We are considering age, gender, and weight in our measurements.

Results:
We expect to find that the heart rates, respiration rates, and blood pressure of smokers will all be higher in general than those of non-smokers, with persons who do not smoke but are exposed to it often falling somewhere in the middle. After the exercise, we expect that the smokers will be in even worse shape than the non-smokers, though this test will have more external variables to be accounted for.
We hope that the results of this experiment may convince people to stop smoking if they already smoke, or at least make people think twice about what they do to their bodies every time they light up a cigarette.

Sources:
Changes in Cigarette-Related Disease Risks and Their Implication for Prevention and Control by the National Cancer Institute. NIH Publication 97-4213, February 1997.

"Smoking" from WebMD online reference encyclopedia.

Survey conducted by University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, results found at http://www.nida.nih.gov/Infofax/tobacco.html.

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