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Smoking Cigarettes

By clay_cook Mar 18, 2014 1490 Words
Cigarettes are highly addictive, so why are they legal? What leads the user to continue smoking, even when they know that it is harmful for their health? The physiology reason:
The inhaled substances trigger chemical reactions in nerve endings within our body. This activity increases heart rate, memory, alertness, and produces a measurably faster reaction time after individuals have smoked. Dopamine and other endorphins are released, which are associated with the sensations of pleasure and reward. The Psychological reason:

The majority of cigarette smokers start when they are young; often smoking cigarettes is cool and has the elements of risk-taking and rebellion. Most often teenagers are influenced more by their peers than by adults. This means attempts to educate the hazards of cigarette smoking from health professionals, parents, and teachers is often unsuccessful. Research has also shown that the majority of smokers are sociable, impulsive, risk-taking, and excitement-seeking individuals. Often smokers tend to rationalize why they smoke. Smokers tend to think that the benefits of smoking (i.e. reducing stress) outweigh the negative effects of smoking. How unhealthy are cigarettes?

You only have to look at the ingredients of cigarettes to see how they can be bad for your health. Cigarettes mainly consist of a tobacco blend, paper, PVA glue to bond the outer layer of paper together, and often also an acetate–based filter. Cigarettes can contain over 100 ingredients. Many of the ingredients are flavorings for the tobacco. A key ingredient that makes cigarettes more addictive is the inclusion of reconstituted tobacco, which has additives to make nicotine more unpredictable as the cigarette burns. Here’s a small list of ingredients that any smoker should be concerned about:

Smoking is a slow killer, often wearing people down over time, but smoking has also claimed young lives as well. Cigarette smoke tends to leave toxic bacteria in our lungs and other organs, harming certain functions and poisoning our health. According to the Cornell Medical Center, smokers are more likely to be absent from work than non-smokers, and their illnesses last longer. Smokers often have more medical costs, see physicians more often, and are admitted to the hospital more often and for longer periods than non-smokers. Also, smokers have a lower survival rate after surgery compared to that of non-smokers because of damage to the body's host defenses, delayed wound healing, and reduced immune response. Smokers are at greater risk for complications following surgery, including wound infections, postoperative pneumonia, and other respiratory complications. Cancer: The primary risks of tobacco usage include many forms of cancer, particularly cancers to the lungs, kidney, larynx, head and neck, breast cancer, bladder, esophagus, pancreas, and stomach. Pulmonary: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) caused by smoking, known as tobacco disease, is a permanent, incurable reduction of pulmonary capacity categorized by shortness of breath, wheezing, persistent cough, and damage to the lungs, including bronchitis. Cardiovascular: Inhalation of tobacco smoke causes several immediate responses inside the heart and blood vessels. Within one minute the heart rate begins to rise, increasing by as much as 30 percent during the first 10 minutes of smoking. Carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke applies its negative effects by reducing the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Smoking also increases the chance of heart disease, stroke, and vascular disease. Several ingredients of tobacco lead to the narrowing of blood vessels, increasing the likelihood of a blockage, and thus a heart attack or stroke. According to a study by an international team of researchers, people under 40 are five times more likely to have a heart attack if they smoke. Infection: Tobacco is also linked to the cause of infectious diseases, particularly in the lungs. Smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day increases the risk of tuberculosis by two to four times. The usage of tobacco also increases rates of infection such as, common cold and bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and chronic bronchitis. The dangers of secondhand smoke:

Secondhand smoke is a mixture of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar and the smoke exhaled from the lungs of smokers. It is involuntarily inhaled, lingers in the air hours after cigarettes have been extinguished, and can cause a wide range of opposing health effects, including cancer, lung infections, and asthma. Non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke increase their heart disease risk by 25–30% and their lung cancer risk by 20–30%. Secondhand smoke has been estimated to cause 38,000 deaths per year, of which 3,400 are deaths from lung cancer in non-smokers. The current Surgeon General’s Report concluded that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Even short exposures to secondhand smoke can cause blood platelet to become stickier, damage the lining of blood vessels, and reduce heart rate consistency, potentially increasing the risk of heart attack. New investigation indicates that private research conducted by the cigarette company of Philip Morris in the 1980s founded that secondhand smoke was toxic, yet the company repressed their finds during the next two decades to further the production and sales of their product. Secondhand smoke is also connected to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Infants who die from SIDS usually have higher levels of nicotine and cotinine (a biological marker for secondhand smoke exposure) in their lungs than those who die from other causes. While smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of SIDS, infants exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are also at a greater risk of SIDS whether or not the mother smoked during pregnancy. The nicotine obtained from smoking travels through a woman into her breast milk, thus giving nicotine to her child. Secondhand smoke has been associated with between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory infections in infants and children under 18 months of age, resulting in between 7,500 and 15,000 hospitalizations each year. It is associated with 430 SIDS deaths annually in the United States alone, according to The Center of Disease Control. Secondhand smoke is known to harm children, infants and reproductive health through lower respiratory tract illness, asthma induction, chronic respiratory symptoms, middle ear infection, lower birth weight babies, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Environmental Issues:

Another problem with cigarettes is the length in which it takes them to biodegrade. Depending on environment conditions they can take as long as 10–15 years to biodegrade. It is estimated that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered each year which makes cigarettes and cigarette butts 24.7% of garbage. That is over twice as much waste as any other item that gets collected as garbage. Why are cigarettes still legal then?

What would happen if the governments in most countries made cigarettes illegal? Many cigarette smokers would go through withdrawals causing there to be a high demand for selling cigarettes on the black markets. Not only would the banning of cigarettes cause them to be a highly sought after item on the black market, but there is also nothing in the constitution that says that it is illegal for people to have poor judgment and bad habits. Smoking is a choice and if it became illegal, citizens may find it as an impediment to their rights as a free individual. This could lead to rioting and potentially dangerous situations. Also, the governments would no longer gain taxes from cigarettes or make any revenue off of the product. The government’s perspective on the banning of cigarettes stands as so; if cigarettes are made illegal and are still purchased on the black market, then why deprive our government of the exponential amount of money that they generate if they are just going to be sold still anyways? Despite the fact that cigarettes are a known toxin and a harm to our health and environment, the government choses to not make them an illegal product due to the fact that the cons of banning cigarettes over power the pros (in the governments eyes). All in all, cigarettes are a deadly, highly poisonous chemical that should not be allowed to be made or distributed in any country, but specifically the United States. Although the users of the product and the producers of cigarettes know of the threat that they pose, I’m afraid that they will remain a legal substances simply because they are too high of a portion of income earned off of common goods, and the way that the people would react to the illegalization of cigarettes would have a very strong negative effect on the government due to the rioting and increase in black market business.

Citations

Miller, Dawn. "The Physiological Effects of Smoking on the Respiratory System."Nursing Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.

"Secondhand Smoke." Secondhand Smoke. National Cancer Institute, n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2014.

"SIDS." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 Feb. 2014. Web. 02 Mar. 2014.

"Tobacco." Surgeon General. Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.

"Researchers to Use Novel Metabolomics Technology to Discover Which Cigarette Smokers Are at Highest Risk for COPD." Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.

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