Smoking: Preventable Death

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Running head: SMOKING: PREVENTABLE DEATH

Smoking: Preventable Death

It is 2008, my family is gathered in the hospital room listening to a doctor explain how cigarette smoking is the reason for us being here. This is a speech we are hearing for the third time. I had already watched to of my other family members die from disease caused by smoking. This two names were added to the list of hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens that die from cigarette smoking every year. The fear sets in and I am terrified of what might happen thinking about how precious life is. I find myself asking the questions, why are we not preventing such a preventable death? And how many will die before we do something about it? Even though tobacco companies state that it is not addictive or life threatening, cigarette smoking is highly addictive and kills nearly half of its users, over five million people a year making it the leading cause of preventable death; therefore, those who have not used cigarettes should never start and those who do need to quit to avoid becoming a statistic. In order to understand how it has come to this point where so many lives are being lost it is important to know where it all began. Ravenholt (1990) provides a history lesson on the origins of tobacco use in America. It all began with the Native Americans who would use it as a remedy for illnesses, aches and pains. Tobacco use increased in the United States during the Civil War. Immediately following the Civil War tobacco factories began to sprout up and cigarette use entered a new era shortly after with the perfection of a cigarette rolling machine. Over the next several year’s production of cigarettes increased to over a billion cigarettes a year by 1890. With more Americans consuming tobacco and cigarettes medical practitioners noticed an increase in disease and illness in its users. Awareness of the possible dangers arose with the clinical observation of prominent individuals exhibiting evidence that they had succumbed to diseases related to smoking. Over one hundred years later the tobacco industry is thriving selling billions of cigarettes every year. This growth has caused nicotine to become the most addictive drug in the U.S. and the leading cause of preventable death, yet tobacco companies deny that their product is addictive or life threatening. Tobacco companies have reached great success and continue this path despite the awareness of the many possible dangers of cigarette use. One way they continue this success is through strategic marketing, targeting a younger population to obtain a possible long-term customer. Tobacco companies have used everything from cowboys to cartoon characters to appeal to their target customers. After these marketing strategies were publicly criticized because they were believed to be targeting youth, tobacco agencies slowly changed their approach. However, these changes applied to the strategy and not the target audience. The American Journal of Public Health (Ellis and Northridge, 2002) states: Today's tobacco advertising has its own distinct flavor. Gone are the cartoon characters that proved wildly successful in marketing tobacco to youths. In their place are more confusing and sophisticated campaigns, ostensibly designed to reduce the level of direct marketing to adolescents. They nonetheless retain the cunning ability to attract young consumers through deliberate manipulation of antismoking messages. Tobacco companies still have the ability to appeal to adolescent consumers continuing a cycle of gaining customers that they are able to retain many years with such an addictive product. Ellis and Northridge (2002) go on to state, “Youths throughout the world are subjected to a barrage of images, and many designed specifically to encourage impulse purchasing of tobacco products without attention to legally required health warnings”.

So, tobacco companies defend that nicotine is not addictive...
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