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Cigarettes and the Negative Impact They Impose on Our Society

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| Cigarettes and the negative impact they impose on our society |

In America, we have a problem that is harming our nation. Our citizens are allowed to poison their bodies on a daily basis. The problem to be addressed is the sale and distribution of cigarettes. The production and sale of cigarettes should be made illegal. This problem is one that we as Americans should not have the right to partake in. Our government does not allow the production and sale of other drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or even less deadly drugs like marijuana. Cigarettes are packaged with a clear warning such as SURGEON GENERAL 'S WARNING: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, and May Complicate Pregnancy, SURGEON GENERAL 'S WARNING: Smoking By Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, And Low Birth Weight, and SURGEON GENERAL 'S WARNING: Cigarette Smoke Contains Carbon Monoxide. Although in general, people have the right to do as they wish, this right can be taken away if it infringes on the rights of others. There are many ways that others end up paying for the simple act of smoking. One way that nonsmokers can be harmed is by the second hand smoke from cigarettes. The children of smokers are more likely to contract a respiratory infection, and they have a slightly smaller increase in lung growth as they mature (From the First to the Last Ash). Secondly, the burden of healthcare for those who were careless enough to smoke is placed on the tax payers. Another reason that cigarette smoke is hazardous is because it pollutes the environment. These scenarios violate the free will of citizens, and they could be fixed simply by banning the sale of cigarettes. There are many irrefutable facts that support the stance of illegalizing the production, sale, and use of cigarettes. The EPA labels cigarettes as a Group A carcinogen (From the First to the Last Ash). Also grouped with cigarettes are arsenic, a deadly poison, and asbestos, a material used to insulate pipes that has been proven to cause cancer (ibid). The CDC analyzed the leading causes of death in America. The results show that the top two, heart disease and cancer, can be a consequence of smoking cigarettes for a prolonged period of time (CDC). Smoking has also been shown to cause memory loss. A study conducted in England showed that short-term memory loss is affected by smoking. In this study a set of people smoked while one didn’t and were then tested on their short term memory. On average non-smokers scored higher on their short-term memory exam. ( Wonnacott, S., M. A. H. Russell, and Ian P. Stolerman) A substance that is literally poisonous to a person’s health should never be legal. The U.S. government is allowing people to substantially shorten their own lives.
As previously stated, secondhand smoke generates many problems for nonsmokers, including the children of people who smoke. These children have no choice but to be exposed to the harmful chemicals in the cigarettes that their parents smoke. As Plato said in The Republic, “He who commits injustice is ever made more wretched than he who suffers it.” The parents in this situation are subjecting their innocent children to unjust practices. No child should have to endure the physical effects of cigarettes. Every child has a right to a healthy upbringing. Secondhand smoke also presents a problem to the general population. 79.4% of the country 's population is protected by local and state laws that prohibit smoking (Ossad). Thirty-five states have enacted laws that require 100% smoke-free workplaces, restaurants or bars (ibid). Although most states have laws preventing public smoking, the issue is still important. There are always situations in which people are being exposed to secondhand smoke. If smoking was made illegal, these situations wouldn’t occur as often. As secondhand smoke causes unwanted side effects for nonsmokers, it also adds to the pollution of our environment. Pollution from cigarette smoke accounts for ten times more of air pollution than exhaust from diesel fuel (medicalnewstoday.com). Air pollution causes respiratory problems in humans as well as extensive effects on the environment (Jezioro and Bokwa). Air pollution increases the greenhouse effect and harms the ozone layer that protects us from harmful UV rays (ibid).
Cigarette usage does not only cause medical problems, but also financial ones. The cost of treating chronic diseases caused by cigarettes is tremendous. Nonsmokers are forced to contribute. Although the average general cost of cigarettes in Tennessee is $4.84 per pack, the actual cost to society and the state 's economy is $20.32 per pack. Smokers cost America 96 billion dollars a year in healthcare and 97 billion dollars a year due to a loss in productivity (Werner). Cigarettes also contribute to tax increases and increases in the price of insurance. If cigarettes were banned, the U.S. could use that money to decrease the national debt. All of the information listed above is more than enough evidence that cigarettes are detrimental to not just the smoker but all of society.
In an interview with Helen Butcher a native of McMinnville, Tennessee, one can see the true effects of smoking on the lives of the person and the people around them. Helen Butcher is 64 years old and has been smoking since she was twenty. Her husband Billy Butcher passed away two years ago from lung cancer as a result from his own smoking. When interviewed Helen was asked, “Why do you smoke when there is so much information out there on the dangers of smoking?” She said, “I feel like I have no choice. I feel like smoking is a part of me. If I go a day without a cigarette I feel like I am going to die. The addiction I have is so strong that even though I have been told it will kill me I cannot bring myself to stop.” Helen was then asked, “Have you suffered any medical problems from smoking?” She replied, “I have been diagnosed with emphysema, and I now have to use oxygen 24/7.” “Has it been hard to get used to using oxygen on a daily basis?” Helen then said, “I think that this is what a dog must feel like when it is put on a leash. It is so difficult to do anything now that I have become more reclusive in my daily life.” One final question was asked, “What has smoking done to you personally?” She replied, “Smoking took away my husband. Every time I smoke now I am reminded of him and how much I miss him. After he died, I could barely pay my bills and I would have lost the house he built with his own hands, had it not been for my daughter who came to live with me so that we could keep the house. Smoking has ruined my life, and I am reminded of it every day when I go out on my porch to smoke.” This real life example shows the true power of addiction, and the damage that the act of smoking can do to a family.
In response to the medical aspect of the argument against cigarettes, one could say that if cigarettes are made illegal, the federal government may as well pass laws against gluttony, not getting enough sleep, being in high stress situations or not taking medication as all of these things can harm our health and eventually could result in death (Head). Also, the right to privacy should permit an individual to smoke and harm his/her own body if they choose to do so (Head). As Aristotle said, “Different men seek after happiness in different ways and by different means, and so make for themselves different modes of life and forms of government.” (Brainyquote). Another benefit of the sale of cigarettes is the revenue that the government brings in off of taxes. In 2009, the total revenue for state and federal taxes on cigarettes brought in approximately 24 billion dollars (Ritchie).
If cigarettes were to be banned, a new avenue of organized crime would arise. Imagine nicotine addicts on the street searching for a drug dealer. This would cause more problems that the U.S. does not need. There are 43.4 million smokers in the U.S. (Hendrick). Some of those people have such a severe nicotine addiction that they would risk being arrested to get their “drug.” Overcrowding is already an issue in U.S. jails. By adding more possible offenders, this would add to the total cost that the government pays to keep inmates in jail.
Some studies show that cigarettes are beneficial in certain instances. According to an article published in 1995 in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, schizophrenics use cigarettes to help reduce the psychiatric, sensory, physical, and cognitive effects of schizophrenia. Also, certain evidence points out that smokers are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease (Russo). Cigarettes are also an appetite suppressant. Many people use it to treat overeating and obesity (ibid). A Swedish study observed that the children of smokers had lower rates of allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema, and food allergies (ibid).
While the response presents some substantial arguments for smoking, they are not enough to compensate for the negative effects of smoking cigarettes. The prohibition of cigarettes is completely constitutional. To say that Congress can ban marijuana but not cigarettes is a double standard. Marijuana has not been proven to produce a negative long-term effect on a person’s body, but cigarettes clearly do cause negative long-term effects. Individuals do have a right to privacy, but when the well-being of other people is threatened, that right can be limited. As far as economics is concerned, the total revenue in taxes from cigarettes does not compare to the cost that cigarettes present to society.
Cigarette banning would not cause any significant increase in crime because generally one does not think of a person who smokes cigarettes as a person inclined toward criminal acts. For example, President Obama has been known to smoke cigarettes. Would you expect him to break the law to get a fix? The negative effects of cigarettes certainly outweigh the possible benefits. In the case of cigarettes helping schizophrenic patients, a law could be made to only allow those diagnosed to have a prescription for cigarettes. The same thing is being done with marijuana in the United States for people with glaucoma, MS, and cancer. In this changing world we live in, cigarettes once were acceptable but that time has passed. Throughout this essay, the negative effects of cigarettes on our society have been shown. Smoking destroys our bodies and can be a huge expense if smoked on a daily basis. This would not be a problem if cigarettes did not also harm others through second hand smoke. With all of the information presented above, it is obvious that the negative effects of cigarettes far outweigh any views presented against the argument. It is not a matter of taking away an individual’s right to smoke. Instead, it is the matter of someone innocent being harmed by something they should not be subjected to. With all the warnings and information about the harmful effects of smoking there is no reason this “poison in a pack” should be legal. If we are going to make progress as a society there is a time when we must put away things of the past, and the time to put away this harmful practice is now.

Annotated Bibliography

Butcher, Helen. Personal Interview. 14 February 2012
I will use the information from this interview to tell the side of a smoker and how cigarette smoking effects that person in her daily life.

CDC/National Center for Health Statistics. 6 September 2011. Office of Information Services. 9 November 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm>.
This is a chart showing leading causes of death.

“Cigarette Smoke Produces Ten Times More Air Pollution Than Diesel Car Exhaust.” 25 August 2004. 8 November 2011. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/12481.php.>.
I will use this to show the effect of smoking on our environment.

From the First to the Last Ash: The History, Economics, and Hazards of Tobacco. 1997. The Cambridge Tobacco Education Program. 9 November 2011. <http://healthliteracy.worlded.org/docs/tobacco/index.html>
This site seems to be very informative, and I feel that I can get valuable information from it.

Head, T. “Should Cigarettes Be Illegal?” 2011. 10 November 2011. <http://civilliberty.about.com/od/drugpolicy/i/cigarettes_ban_2.htm>.
I will use this source to show how the constitution would support a ban on cigarettes.

Hendrick, B.“Smoking Rate is Declining in US.” 13 November 2008. 11 November 2011. <http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/news/20081113/smoking-rate-is-declining-in-us>.
I will use this to show how many people smoke.

Jezioro P, Bokwa A. “Negative Effects of Air Pollution.” 2006. 9 November 2011. <http://www.atmosphere.mpg.de/enid/1fa09274fdfc036b4dacc4293df28bba,0/1__Air_Pollution/-_Negative_effects_3ot.html>.
This source will be used to show the impact of air pollution.

Ossad J. “New York City Outdoor Smoking Ban Begins.” 23 May 2011. 8 November 2011. <http://articles.cnn.com/2011-05-23/us/new.york.smoking.ban_1_smoking-on-public-beaches-smoking-ban-secondhand-smoke?_s=PM:US>.
This is about public smoking bans. I plan to use this to show how smoking bans can be enforced.

Plato, Lee D. The Republic. ca. 360 BCE. Simon and Brown. 2011. Print.
I chose a quote from Plato to add a notable name to this essay.

Ritchie, J. “How Much is the Government Making Off of Tobacco?” 22 June 2010. 11 November 2011. <http://blog.turbotax.intuit.com/2010/06/22/how-much-is-the-government-making-off-of-tobacco/>.
This source shows how the Government benefits from the sale of tobacco.

Russo, J. “Health Benefits of Smoking Cigarettes: Could Tobacco Be Good for You?” 8 December 2008. 11 November 2011. <http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1265067/health_benefits_of_smoking_cigarettes_pg2.html?cat=5>.
This source will help show a few of the benefits from smoking,

Werner E. “Do Smokers Cost Society Money?” 2009. Associated Press. 10 November 2011. <http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-04-08-fda-tobacco-costs_N.htm>.
This source will be used to show how smoking costs America money.

Wonnacott, S., M. A. H. Russell, and Ian P. Stolerman. Nicotine Psychopharmacology: Molecular, Cellular, and Behavioural Aspects. Oxford England: Oxford UP, 1990. Print.
This source from the ETSU library will be used to show the effects of smoking in the brain.

Bibliography: Plato, Lee D. The Republic. ca. 360 BCE. Simon and Brown. 2011. Print. Wonnacott, S., M. A. H. Russell, and Ian P. Stolerman. Nicotine Psychopharmacology: Molecular, Cellular, and Behavioural Aspects. Oxford England: Oxford UP, 1990. Print.

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