Cigarettes: What’s Killing Our Country Essay, Research Paper
This year alone cigarettes will kill over 420,000 Americans, and many more will suffer from cancers, and circulatory and respiratory system diseases1. These horrible illnesses were known to originate from cigarettes for years, and recently nicotine, the main chemical additive in cigarettes, was declared addictive by the Food and Drug Administration. This explains why smokers continue to use cigarettes even though smokers are aware of the constantly warned about health dangers in cigarettes. Although smokers constitute the majority of people who suffer from cigarettes, they are not the only ones ailing from cigarette smoke. As UC San Francisco scientist and author Stanton Glantz estimates in Shari Roan’s article, the amount of second-hand smoke inhaled by the typical nonsmoker is equivalent to one cigarette smoked per day.1 Even that amount of cigarette smoke can damage a person’s heart. Some researchers have also concluded that smoking by pregnant women causes the deaths of over 5,000 babies and 115,000 miscarriages.2 The only way to terminate the suffering and loss of life brought upon by cigarettes exists as a complete proscription on them. Opponents to the banning of cigarettes argue that it will create a profound negative impact on the economy. They do not realize that this nation places the health of its citizens above its financial status. Although many people continue to remain convinced that absolving our country of cigarettes does not merit some economical loss, this remains as a necessary step in eradicating our country of these virulent stiflers of life.
For years cigarettes have been known to cause cancer, emphysema, and other horrible illnesses. The deaths of over 420,000 of Americans this year will be attributable to cigarettes. With all the other causes of preventable deaths, alcohol, illegal drugs, AIDS, suicide, transportation accidents, fires, and guns, cigarettes still account for more preventable deaths than those do combined, as stated by Lonnie Bristow M.D. of the American Medical Association at her speech to Indiana University.3 We can no longer stand aside and watch fellow Americans die because they smoke cigarettes. Thousands of smokers try to rid themselves of cigarettes but can’t because of the physiological dependence they develop, chiefly imputable to its chemical additive nicotine.4 Nicotine was recently declared addictive by the Food and Drug Administration, which explains why many smokers continue to smoke despite the numerous health warnings on cigarette smoking. Although cigarettes do not offer as intense an effect as drugs like heroin and cocaine, they rank higher in the level of dependence it creates in the user. Since cigarettes fit in the array of regulated addictive drugs, they should also be regulated like those in the same array as cigarettes. David Kesslar of the Food and Drug Administration says in a letter to an antismoking coalition, “…cigarette manufacturers may intend that their products contain nicotine to satisfy an addiction…Although technology to remove nicotine from [cigarettes] was developed years ago cigarette manufacturers shun it. Instead [they] control with precision the amount of nicotine in their products, ensuring that it [will] maintain an addiction.”.4 Nicotine engenders it almost impossible for cigarette smokers to quit smoking because of its addictive nature, and with the cigarette manufacturers manipulating the amount nicotine the only manner available remains to outlaw cigarettes.
The health of tens of thousands of nonsmoking Americans a year are affected by cigarette smokers. Of those who do not smoke 53,000 will die and countless others will suffer from cardiovascular diseases as reported by the American Heart Association.5
Scott Ballin of the Coalition on Smoking or Health says that, “The scientific evidence continues to accumulate that says there is this connection to secondhand smoke and cardiovascular disease.”.6 Why should smokers be allowed enjoy their cigarettes at the expense of those who do not? By permitting the smoking of cigarettes the United States government denies the right the fifth amendment gave its citizens, …nor be deprived of life, liberty…A report published from the Cardiovascular Research Institute at UC San Francisco specifically explains how secondhand smoke affects a nonsmokers body: it reduces the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to the heart because the carbon monoxide produced by the cigarettes competes with the oxygen for binding sites on red blood cells, it increases the amount of lactate–a salt derived from lactic acid– in blood, making it more difficult to exercise, it activates blood platelets, the cells which cause cuts to form scabs, causing blood clots in the arteries, and it irritates tissue damage after a heart attack.7 Dr. Homayoun Kazemi of Harvard University states that, “[studies] are showing…small amounts of….[cigarette] smoke are having greater effects on the non smoker’s system.”.7 If cigarettes were outlawed not only would we be saving millions of smokers, but also thousands of nonsmokers as well.
Opponents to the banning of cigarettes base their arguments on the possible negative impact that may transpire on America’s economy. Such arguments include statements like ex-smokers could live longer and receive greater Social Security and Medicare payments, and that tobacco farmers would lose a large piece of their revenue8. The first argument makes Americans appear to be burdens to this country, and by smoking cigarettes they make themselves less of a nuisance by killing themselves. The opponents second statement about tobacco farmers is misleading because farmers also sell their tobacco for cigars, and in addition to tobacco hundreds of varieties of other cash crops may also be planted. The benefits of outlawing cigarettes greatly outnumber the disadvantages, for example, many scientists believe a link between smoking and a shortened life span exists between the two, a ban on cigarettes could increase life spans; many studies suggest that billions of dollars now spent on smoking related illnesses create health care savings; smoking related ailments could be reduced by outlawing cigarettes, and companies could garner an added $8.4 billion; families could save money by not purchasing cigarettes; and accidental fires costing millions of dollars caused by cigarettes would cease.8 With almost only benefits attached to a proscription of cigarettes, the next logical step is to outlaw them.
Although a complete ban on cigarettes currently remains far from attainment, several organizations recently helped create a bill that could control cigarettes much in
the same way the government now controls drugs. One such organization, the Food and Drug Administration, headed by David Kesslar drafted a major part, which would: require manufacturers to disclose the 700 chemical additives in cigarettes; reduce or prohibit the level of harmful chemical additives; require cigarette companies to warn of the addictive nature of nicotine; restrict tobacco advertising and promotion; and control the level of nicotine cigarettes contain.9 9As we near a complete ban on cigarettes many fights will be fought, but eventually cigarettes will be eliminated.
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Hilts, Philip J. “Science Times: Is Nicotine Addictive? It depends on whose criteria you use.” New York Times 2 Aug. 1994, current events ed.: A3
“5,600 Infant Deaths Tied to Mothers’ Smoking.” New York Times 13 Apr. 1995, current events ed.: A23.
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1 Roan, Shari. “Secondhand Smoke’s Damaging Effects Analyzed.” Los Angeles Times 5 Apr. 1995, metro ed.: A3.
2 “5,600 Infant Deaths Tied to Mothers’ Smoking.” New York Times 13 Apr. 1995, current events ed.: A23.
3 Bristow, Lonnie. “Protecting Youth from the Tobacco Industry.” Vital Speeches of the Day 60 (1994): 333-336.
4 “FDA mulls over cigarette ban.” Science News 145 (1994): 190.
5 Rumpf, Eva A. “Secondhand Smoke Puts You at a Risk.” Current Health 2 19..3 (1992): 20-21
6 Hilts, Philip J. “Science Times: Is nicotine addictive? It depends on whose criteria you use.” New York Times 2 Aug. 1994, current events ed.: A3
7 Roan, Shari. “Secondhand Smoke’s Damaging Effects Analyzed.” Los Angeles Times 5 Apr. 1995, metro ed.: A3.
8 Shannon Brownlee and Steven V. Roberts,”Should Cigarettes Be Outlawed?.” U.S. News & World Report Apr. 1994: 33-38.
9 Shannon Brownlee and Steven V. Roberts,”Should Cigarettes Be Outlawed?.” U.S. News & World Report Apr. 1994: 33-38.