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.
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Angeles Times 10 Mar. 1995, metro ed.: B6
Bristow, Lonnie. "Protecting Youth from the Tobacco
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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,
"FDA Mulls Over Cigarette Ban." Science News 145 (1994):
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."
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