Tobacco Smoking Essay, Research Paper
For many people smoking is a trend, or a way of attracting attention so people will think better of them, at least that is how the smoker feels. But in many cases in this corrupt day and age the smoker is an addict and is the dependent of the vicious drug nicotine. Nicotine is the most addictive drug in the world, and is abused by ignorant human beings through the use of cigarettes. Personally nicotine is my worse enemy and if were flesh and bones I would destroy it, because of the fact that is has taken my beloved father which I love more than anything in this world and turned him into an addict. This paper has helped turn the anger I had for my father because of his smoking, into pity and sorrow. For the fact that because of the paper I now have an understanding of why my father is addicted. What he feels and goes through every time he tries to quit and does not succeed why he can t quit, and lastly why de has become dependent of the life threatening drug nicotine.
On his voyage to the Caribbean, Columbus discovered Indians smoking broad leaves of the tabaca plant in pipes and inhaling the smoke. Columbus took the plant back to Europe, and within fifty years people throughout cities of Europe were smoking. Use became so widespread by the 1600s that governments tried to ban or suppress the new habit. In 1604, King James I of England raged over the filthy, stinking weed, tobacco (1-94)
While some condemned tobacco, others praised it for its supposed medicinal qualities. Doctors prescribed tobacco preparations to treat everything from cancer to dog bites. Seventeenth-century chemists were the first to understand the power of tobacco s active ingredient, nicotine. Experiments on animals showed some of the powerful effects. By the end of the century, tobacco was no longer considered a helpful medicine. But it was still widely smoked for pleasure and recreation. The numbers of smokers worldwide continued to grow.
Antismoking forces also increased their power. Under their influence, parts of Germany and the Netherlands, as well as Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, and Hungary, passed legislation prohibiting smoking. The government of China decreed that importers of tobacco are beheaded smokers and tobacco merchants in Persia were punished and tortured.
But, until the late 1700 s, the vast American tobacco industry was free of attack by reformers. Opponents hesitated to voice their objections because of tobacco s economic importance to the young nation.
Then, several things happened in the second half of the nineteenth century that changed the tobacco habits of the nation. The American Civil War expanded the consumption of tobacco in the United States. The discovery of a way to wrap the leaves in paper also made smoking more convenient. And the invention of high-speed automatic cigarette makers made cigarettes cheaper and much more available.
Meanwhile, in 1859, the first report linking smoking to certain diseases was published(2-36). Also, smoking s dependence-producing effect became the subject study. Some states passed legislation banning the sale of cigarettes.
During the years after World War I, the tobacco interests organized and presented their case to the American people. Using doctor s statements to back them up, they denied the health hazards of smoking. Representatives of the tobacco growers and manufactures said that anticigarette laws violated the smokers constitutional liberties. By the end of World War II, sales of cigarettes were at an all-time high. The increase continued despite some important scientific studies linking lung cancer to heavy tobacco use.
Finally, the 1964 Surgeon General s report was issued and drew considerable attention. The report presented substantial medical evidence on the health hazards of tobacco. The report warned smokers that cigarette smoking is contributing cause of lung cancer, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.
The 1972 report for the first time warned nonsmokers that they risked adverse health effects from secondary smoke, or the smoke of other people s cigarettes. It also indicated that death rates are higher for smokers than nonsmokers.(1-26)
Today, almost everyone knows and accepts the fact that cigarette smoking is a harmful habit. It has been called slow motion suicide (2-36) by Joseph A. Califano,Jr., former secretary of health, Education, and Welfare.
Yet, smoking is the most widespread drug dependency. Cigarettes are used daily by more people than any other substance of abuse. Dependency on nicotine develops very quickly. Whereas there are many occasional drinkers or drug takers, there are few now-and-then cigarette smokers. There are some important differences between nicotine and most other substances of abuse. Smoking does not cause major changes in mood or behavior. There is no real danger of overdose. The drug does not cause antisocial behavior. And the high from nicotine is far less than that from other substances. Society s main concern, therefore, is twofold tobacco as a cause of serious diseases and tobacco as a substance of dependency and addiction.
Some people are more likely to start smoking than others. And some individuals are more likely than others to become dependent on tobacco. The factors are similar to those associated with dependence on other addictive drugs.
Most users begin to smoke cigarettes at an early age, around thirteen. This is the same as with most other substances of abuse. The American Cancer Society reported that those who have friends who smoke usually start first. Many teenagers find it hard to say no to schoolmates who offer them cigarettes. Also, children begin to smoke if cigarettes are available at home and fi their parents smoke. The youngsters want to imitate the behavior and find out what makes smoking so appealing.
Smoking seems to occur more often among young people who live in stressful environments and show behavioral disorders. Study after study shows that the average beginning smoker is more rebellious and angry than the nonsmoker of the same age and background. Like other drug users, most beginners think they will give up smoking someday. I can stop smoking any time I want, they say. They have a strong capacity of denial. They do not believe they will suffer the bad effects other people experience. Once begun, though, smoking is difficult to stop.
People who are shy or uncomfortable in social situation may begin to smoke as a way of gaining confidence and relieving discomfort. Observers have found a high correlation between shyness and aggressiveness in young children and adolescent tobacco and drug use. Some young people are taken in by the tobacco industry s advertising campaign of nearly $1 billion a year. These ads carry the message that smoking makes one brighter, more attractive, and more successful. One of the most interesting findings in recent years is that cigarette smoking may have a genetic basis. Experts suspect an inherited vulnerability to tobacco similar to the genetic tendencies associated with some other addictions. Researchers who studied differences in animals responses to nicotine found varying degrees of sensitivity or tolerance to the substance.
Tobacco users may also be more likely to use other illicit drugs. Apparently, there is no evidence they nicotine may be an even stronger gateway drug to illicit drug use than alcohol.
Most people find their first cigarette very unpleasant. The taste is bitter. The smoke makes them cough or wheeze. Their hearts race. They get slightly dizzy and they begin to perspire. Some even feel like throwing up. In time, though, tolerance develops, and smoking becomes a pleasurable activity.
For the veteran smoker, cigarettes speed up the heartbeat by between 15 to 25 beats per minute. They constrict, or tighten, the blood vessels, thus raising blood pressure 10 to 20 points. The temperature of the skin drops 6 degrees Fahrenheit, and the level of sugar in the blood falls. The nicotine also stimulates the hypothalamus gland, which diminishes the appetite.
As many as 2,000 chemicals are released by burning tobacco leaves. Smokers take these chemicals into their body by inhaling the smoke. The main parts of the smoke are tar, carbon monoxide, and nicotine. It is believed that all three, in one way, contribute to the feeling that all smokers enjoy(3-26). The nicotine however is probably most closely liked to the satisfaction of smoking. Nicotine is the single most active ingredient in tobacco. Cigarettes contain between 0.5 and 2 milligrams of nicotine. The most addictive of all drugs, nicotine is responsible for the addictiveness of smoking.
Nicotine is a colorless, odorless oil compound with a particularly sharp taste. Taken alone, nicotine is an extremely powerful poison. An injection of just a tiny drop, 70 milligrams, can kill a human being.
Several studies point to nicotine as the chief factor of addiction. In one, researchers gave cigarettes to nine male smokers. The cigarettes had low, moderate, or high nicotine content. The smokers did not know which was which. But smokers of low-nicotine cigarettes, Dr.C.D. Firth of London s Institute of Psychiatry found, they took less time between puffs and more puffs per cigarette. Also, they took less time to finish each cigarette and used more cigarettes a day(1-95).
When heavy smokers use low-nicotine cigarettes, they hold the smoke in their lungs longer. In addition, they leave shorter unsmoked butts. Some smokers complain about or refuse to smoke low-nicotine cigarettes or those that have no nicotine at all.
An average cigarette contains about 1.09 milligrams of nicotine. Almost all the substance reaches the smokers blood stream. About half is broken down into the body within twenty to thirty minutes. That is when the effect starts to wear off. The smoker then begins to crave another cigarette. Smokers with tobacco dependency smoke on an average a cigarette every thirty minutes(5-66). An adolescent who smokes more than three cigarettes almost invariably becomes a regular smoker because tolerance increases with each cigarette.
The peculiar mix of effects may be related to the smokers expectations. When smokers need a lift, they find the nicotine speeds up and sharpens their ability to think. But when a smoker is tense they find that nicotine relaxes them and puts them at ease. Experiments show that smokers muscles actually do relax while smoking. One explanation is that the smoker may stop another activity and quiet down. In other words, the cigarette provides an extremely good feeling because of its association with pleasure.
Cigarette smoking, and particularly the tar found in cigarettes, is closely linked with lung cancer, heart disease, and chronic lung disease. A study by the American Cancer Society shows that a moderate male smoker is more likely to develop lung cancer than a nonsmoker. The chances are thirty times larger for a heavy smoker. Fifty years ago lung cancer was a rare disease. Today, it is number one cancer killer of men and is rapidly becoming a killer of women also.
Physicians advise pregnant women not to smoke in order to prevent damage to the newborn. Pregnant women who smoke tend to have children with smaller than average birth weight and reduced head size. In addition, these women suffer more frequent miscarriages and other birth complications. Maternal smoking was also found to be related to lower developmental scores in infants even a year after birth. Cigarettes smoking not only endangers smokers and their offspring, it is also harmful to those around the users. Each time the smoker blows out a cloud of smoke, or holds the cigarette without puffing, the chemicals enter the air. People nearby are exposed to the same chemicals as the smoker. Research projects in the United States, Japan, and Greece found that nonsmoking wives of smoking husbands each day inhaled cigarette smoke equal to smoking almost six cigarettes by themselves.
Two new studies add to the growing evidence that smoking by parents is harmful to the children s well being. A government report made public in 1991 found that children who live with smokers are almost twice as likely to be fair or poor health than children never exposed to cigarette smoke. And a second study showed that children of smokers scored lower on tests of reasoning ability and vocabulary than children of nonsmokers. The differences showed up even after the researchers excluded factors of gender, race, family incomes, and so on.
Cigarette is the main cause of about 90 percent of lung cancer cases in men and about 70 percent in women. Most lung cancer originates in the cells of the lungs, however, cancer may also spread to the lung from other parts of the body. Lung cancer is the most common cancer in both men and women. More importantly, it s the most common cause of death from cancer in both men and women. Lung cancer has become more common in women because more women are smoking cigarettes. The more cigarettes a person smokes, the greater the risk of lung cancer.
More than 90 percent of lung cancers start in the bronchi, the large airways that supply the lungs. Such cancer is called bronchogenic carcinoma. The types are squamous cell carcinoma, small cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma. Alveolar cell carcinoma originates in the air sacs of the lung. Although this cancer can be a single growth, it often develops in more than one area of the lung at once.
The symptoms of lung cancer depend on its type, its location, and the way it spreads. Usually, the main symptom is a persistent cough. People with chronic bronchitis who develop lung cancer often notice that their coughing becomes worse. If sputum can be coughed up, it may be streaked with blood. If the cancer grows into underlying blood vessels, it may cause severe bleeding.
The cancer may cause wheezing by narrowing the airway in which or around which its growing. Blockage of a bronchus may lead to the collapse of the part the lung that the bronchus supplies, a condition called atelectasis. Another consequence may be pneumonia with coughing, fever, chest pain, and shortness of breath. If the tumor grows into the chest wall, it may produce persistent chest pain.
Symptoms that arise later include loss of appetite, weight loss, and weakness. Lung cancers often cause fluid accumulations around the lung that lead to shortness of breath, low levels of oxygen in the blood, and heart failure may develop.
A doctor explores the possibility of lung cancer when a patient, especially a smoker, has a persistent or worsening cough or other lung symptoms. Sometimes a shadow on a chest x-ray of someone with no symptoms provides the first clue.
For cancer other than small cell carcinoma that hasn t spread beyond the lung, surgery is sometimes possible. Unfortunately many people with lung cancer experience a substantial decrease in lung function, whether or not they undergo treatment. Oxygen therapy and drugs that help widen the airways may ease breathing difficulties. Many people with advanced lung cancer develop such pain and difficulty in breathing that they require large doses of narcotics in the weeks and months before their death. Fortunately, narcotics can help substantially if used in adequate doses.
Often a person giving up smoking feels craving, tension, irritability, restlessness, depression, and difficulty in concentrating. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms are directly related to the amounts consumed before stopping use. Usually these symptoms last for about a week. Frequently they are mild, and in some cases there are no symptoms at all.
Withdrawal also brings about some physical changes. The pulse rate slows down and the blood pressure drops. There is occasional constipation and sometimes a decrease in the ability to perform difficult tasks.
Dizziness, tingling in the arms and legs, and coughing are some common complaints. The dizziness may be the result of an increased oxygen flow to the brain after having been starved for oxygen during the period of heavy smoking. Once the nicotine is out of the body, the blood vessels are no longer constricted. This lets blood flow freely through the open veins and arteries, creating the tingling sensation. The cough comes from the lungs continuing efforts to rid the body of the chemicals from smoking, even after the person has quit.
Tens of millions of Americans have stopped smoking to date, according to the American Cancer Society(4-56). About 95 percent of these broke the dependency on their own, without outside help. Of the others, most had the aid of such groups as the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, the Lung Association, the Seventh Day Adventist church, and private associations such as SmokEnders(4-56). Recently, drug companies introduced a patch that users wear on their arm or back to help them quit.
As with other drugs, most attempts to stop smoking are only successful in the short run. In general, women have more trouble breaking the habit than men. The relapse rate is high, almost identical in fact, to the relapse rate for heroin and alcohol.
People who regard smoking as learned behavior that needs to be unlearned use behavior modification. With positive reinforcement, the smoker is regarded for not smoking. The things that trigger the smoking habit are removed or altered one by one. In negative reinforcement or aversion procedures, each use a cigarette is punished. Supporters claim about the same success rate for each approach.
Workers in quit-smoking programs give some general suggestions to help smokers break the habit. The first day is the hardest, they tell smokers. After that, each day is easier. A good start is to throw away everything to do with smoking such as unsmoked cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays for example. Keep a supply of gum, cough drops, and fruit at hand. Get lots of sleep and plenty of exercise. Allow time for recreation, and try to get outdoors for some vigorous physical activity several times a week.
Then, when the urge to smoke comes, take a few deep breaths, drink large quantities of water or juice, and chew gum or snack or light foods. The longer a person stays away from smoking, the better the chances of not stating again. Most of those who return to smoking do it soon after stopping. A sudden crisis, such as school or career setback or a broken romance, may make the ex-smoker light up again. That one single cigarette can start the nicotine dependency all over again.
Some people start smoking again for the opposite reason. Everything is going so well, the former smoker thinks, that one cigarette won t do any harm. Being around people who smoke may also a person who has just quit back into smoking.
Ninety percent of those who smoke after a year will not resume. As a rule of thumb, anyone who has not smoked for two years is considered cured of nicotine dependency. And this is not merely control of the habit. It is a cure(1-89).
When nicotine takes a person and turns them into an addict and makes their life dependent of the drug. Nicotine has succeeded and the person has failed. This is what goes on in the world daily and it not only happens to anyone it happens to women, children, the elderly, and unfortunately to people who already suffer from serious diseases due to smoking. Smoking addiction is one of the leading causes of death for both men and women because of the serious life threatening diseases that evolve from being an addict. Because of this paper I now have a wide understanding of why people start smoking. Why they become addicts and dependent of nicotine, what they go through to try to quit, why most of the time they are not successful when trying to quit, and what it takes to successfully quit. For the hundreds of lucky ones each year that accomplish their goal of quitting I admire them. Unfortunately for society millions become addicts each year also. Before writing this paper I looked at all smokers as ignorant human beings including my father. I now understand that they are merely victims. My number one goal in life now is to someday day heal my father of his scar in life, and hear him say I no longer need those dam cigarettes I quit.
1. Greenhaven Press, Opposing Viewpoints Chemical Dependency, Minnesota, Greenhaven Press, 1989.
2. Kluger, Richard, Ashes to Ashes, New York, Random House, 1996.
3. The Free Press, The Facts About Drug Abuse , New York, Collier Macmillan Publishers, 1980.
4. Bram, Leon, U.S.A. , Funk & Wagnells New Encyclopedia, New York, Funk & Wagnells Incorporated, 1988, vol.24, pg.39.
5. Jose Mora, parking attendant, L.A.C.C.O., Los Angeles, California, personal interview on smoking addiction, Los Angeles California, May 16, 1998.