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Cigarettes: Killers In Our Country
This year alone cigarettes will kill over 420,000 Americans, and many more will suffer from cancers, circulatory, and respiratory system diseases. 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 health dangers in cigarettes. Although smokers constitute the majority of people who suffer as a result of smoking cigarettes, they are not the only ones who are affected by 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 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. Thousands of smokers try to rid themselves of cigarettes but can't because of the physiological dependence they develop, to its chemical additive nicotine. 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 heroin and cocaine, they rank higher in the level of dependence they create in the user. Since cigarettes fit in the array of regulated addictive drugs, they should be regulated. David Kesslar of the Food and Drug Administration says in a letter to an antismoking coalition, "...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 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. 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 to 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. Many studies suggest that billions of dollars now spent on smoking related illnesses 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 As we near a complete ban on cigarettes many fights will be fought, but eventually cigarettes will be eliminated. Works Cited: "A Habit That Continues to Kill America.." Editorial. Los Angeles Times 10 Mar. 1995, metro ed.: B6 Bristow, Lonnie. "Protecting Youth from the Tobacco Industry." Vital Speeches of the Day 60 (1994): 333-336. Brownlee, Shannon, Steven V. Roberts. "Should Cigarettes Be Outlawed?." U.S. News & World Report 18 Apr. 1994: 33-38. Carey, John. "It's Time For Regulators To Stop Blowing Smoke." Buisiness Week 14 Mar. 1994: 34. Cooper, Mary H. "Regulating tobacco: Can the FDA Break America's Smoking Habit?." CQ Researcher 4 (1994): 841, 843+. "FDA Mulls Over Cigarette Ban." Science News 145 (1994): 190. 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. Infante, Esme J. "Panel: Nicotine Addictive." USA TODAY 3 Aug. 1994, natl. ed.: A1 Leary, Warren E. "U.S. Ties Secondhand Smoke to Cancer." New York Times 8 Jan. 1993, current events ed.: A14 Nowack, Rachel. "Health Policy: Looking Ahead to Cigarette Regulation." Science 265 (1994): 863-864. Roan, Sharon. "Secondhand Smoke's Damaging Effects Analyzed." Los Angeles Times 5 Apr. 1995, metro ed.: A3. Rumpf, Eva A. "Secondhand Smoke Puts You at a Risk." Current Health 2 19.3 (1992): 20-21 Stone, Richard. "Bad News on Second-Hand Smoke." Science 257 (1992): 607.


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