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Feature Article: Smoking

The smoking of tobacco is a form of self imposed physical and psychological stress that constitutes an immediate and on-going threat to health and safety. A smoker may deny that drugs are a part of his life. He lies in the face of facts. The whole purpose of a cigarette is to get a nicotine fix. Different from cocaine or heroin? How? The person who smokes is a health and economic hazard to everyone. The residue remains on his person, clothes, possessions, and associates.

Susceptibility to CO poisoning increases with altitude due to the propensity of CO to enter blood. This prevents the blood from being able to transport adequate oxygen to the body’s cells. The hypemic hypoxia of the smoker reduces his oxygen intake by 5-10 % of normal capacity. The fact that smokers are hypoxic means that we can expect smokers to feel anxiety, forgetfulness, irritability, confusion, altered judgment with every cigarette. Judgment, math ability, and reasoning will be affected. The indication is that smokers are more likely to enter into personal arguments and show lack of both good judgment and logical reasoning ability in those arguments. Very small amounts of CO over a period of time will reduce a person’s ability to perform safely. It is the length of exposure as well as the amount that makes the critical difference. This lack of oxygen to the brain impairs judgment and diminishes the ability to make reasoned decisions.

Any onset of sluggishness, warmth, and tightness across the head is an early symptom of CO poisoning. A headache, weakness, dizziness and dimming of vision comes next. You won’t be aware when you lose strength, vomit, convulse, and enter a coma. A breath of fresh air will not revive you. Several days may be required for full recovery. The smoker is betting against a CO impairment that has already occurred and can only become worse. Carbon monoxide and other toxins in tobacco smoke interfere with the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells. Less oxygen means less energy. Smoking causes an accumulation of mucus in the windpipe and bronchial tubes constricts blood vessels and reduces the supply of oxygen to cells.

The pilot who smokes is a hazard to himself and other pilots. The fact that smokers are hypoxic at relatively low altitudes means that we can expect smoking pilots to feel anxiety, forgetfulness, confusion, irritability, and altered judgment at relatively low altitudes. The applicable question is, should smoking pilots have any more right to fly than drinking pilots? Know your limitations. Don’t fly if you are not 100%.

Last Modified April 24, ©2019 TAGE.COM

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