Nearly 20% of adults in the United States smoke, according to a 2008 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 77% of them smoke every day. Smoking had steadily declined among adults in recent years; though the trend has stalled between 2004 and 2006, according to the latest CDC report there was a 1% drop in smoking prevalence among U.S. adults in 2007. (Simon, 2009) The addictive effects of tobacco have been well documented. Tobacco is considered to be a mood and behavior altering substance that is psychoactive and abusable. Tobacco is believed to be as potentially addictive as alcohol, cocaine, and morphine. Tobacco and its various components increase the risk of cancer (especially in the lung, mouth, larynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney, colon, pancreas, and cervix), heart attacks, strokes, and chronic lung disease. (Simon, 2009) Like most people, you already know that smoking is bad for your health. But do you really understand just how dangerous smoking really is? Tobacco contains nicotine, a highly addictive drug that makes it difficult for smokers to kick the habit. Tobacco products also contain many poisonous and harmful substances that cause disease and premature death. (Mills, 2005) Most people don't know the odds of getting sick as a result of smoking are really that bad, but when you do the numbers, that is how they come out. For many people, truly understanding the very real dangers associated with smoking becomes the motivating factor that helps them to quit. Although it can be a very difficult habit to break, smoking is ultimately a choice; it is your responsibility to choose whether or not you will continue to smoke. (Mills, 2005)
A Brief History of Smoking in America
The history of tobacco dates at least back to 1492, when Christopher Columbus first set foot in the New World. The American Indians he and his men encountered were fond of chewing a particular type of leaf and inhaling its smoke through a Y-shaped pipe they called a “toboca” or “tobaga.” Columbus initially scolded his men for joining the natives in their custom, but finally relented. He is purported to have said that “it was not within their power to refrain from indulging from the habit.” The plant was soon hailed by Europeans as one of the treasures of the New World, along with coffee, chocolate, and cane of sugar. In the seventeenth century, the crop was of vital economic importance to the first English settlers in North America. Professor of geography John Fraser Hart and Ennis L. Chang note that “the colonist at Jamestown, Virginia, were exporting tobacco to England six years before the Pilgrims stepped ashore at Plymouth Rock, and for nearly four centuries the golden leaf has been one of the nation’s leading cash crops.” Prior to the twentieth century, most tobacco was consumed in pipes and cigars or liable as snuff (finely pulverized tobacco inhaled into the nostrils). Cigarettes did not become popular, or even widely available, until the 1880’s, when innovators such as James B. Duke developed mechanized methods of producing them. Prior to this time cigarettes had to be hand-rolled; mass production greatly reduced their price. The combination of low and milder smoke, compared with that of pipes or cigars, greatly increased the popularity of cigarette smoking. (Torr, 2001)
Before 1964, people smoked in offices, theaters, even in airplanes. Nearly one-half of all adult Americans enjoyed lighting up. Can you imagine an interviewer smoking a cigarette as he speaks with the world’s newsmakers on television? One of TV’s most respected newsmen did exactly that on a major interview show during the 1950’s. Every channel ran advertisements for dozens of brands of cigarettes. Cigarettes slogans and jingles were major part of popular culture. Then, in 1964, Surgeon General Luther Terry, the country’s leading health authority, issued a report linking cigarettes smoking...