Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that 18 out of 100 US adults who are 18 years or older are currently smoking cigarettes. CDC states that an approximate 42.1 million American adults are cigarette smokers. According to last year’s report on Smoking of the Surgeon General, more than 3.5 million of middle school and high school students in the United States continue to smoke cigarettes. “The burden of smoking-attributable disease and premature death and its high costs to the nation will continue for decades unless smoking prevalence is reduced more rapidly than the current trajectory.” (Congressional Digest, p.32) To reduce this alarming rates of overall tobacco consumption, the government should ban the production, sale and use of cigarettes. Cigarette smoking should be banned because of a number of reasons; 1) it poses several health risks to the user and second-hand smokers, 2) it is a financial burden to both the user and the government, 3) it is addictive in nature and 4) it damages the environment.
Banning cigarette smoking would save many lives and prevent many people from acquiring various illnesses. “From a public health perspective, cigarette smoking is the single most important cause of human cancer.” (Vida et al. p. 4) In high-income countries like the United States, cigarette smoking is the cause of 25% to 30% death out of the entire cancer mortality. Smoking cigarettes is linked to increasing rates of lung cancer, cancer of the bladder, colon cancer and cancer of the cervix. An estimated 87% of lung cancer cases are directly linked to cigarette smoking. It is also detrimental to the esophagus, throat, stomach, kidney, larynx and ovaries. “Smoking is also linked to coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, strokes, peptic ulcer disease, infertility, low birth weight, pre-term deliveries, and infant deaths.” (Parish, p.1) Studies reveal that smoking cigarettes causes tumors on different sites. Since it induces tumors on multiple tissues and numerous organs, smoking cigarettes is a major risk factor of human brain tumor. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that cigarette smoking is the culprit for approximately 480, 000 premature death among Americans. This means that in every 5 Americans who die, one of them is a cigarette smoker. Additionally, about 16 million people are suffering from at least one tobacco-related disease.
Availability of cigarettes allows everyone to have access to it- even the pregnant women or lactating mothers. Pregnant women who are smoking cigarettes have an increased risk of still born babies, premature infants or could suffer from miscarriage. Maternal smoking is also linked to children’s behavioral defects and learning problems. Smoking during pregnancy also affects the child and would likely to acquire the same cigarette addiction. “Smoking by parents is associated with adverse effects on children including; exacerbation of asthma, frequent colds, increased ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome.” (Parish, p.1) Furthermore, second-hand smoke is the major cause of an approximate 150,000-300,000 incidents of respiratory tract infections among children who are less than 18 months and 7,500-15,000 annual hospitalizations.
Smoking cigarettes should be banned not only to save the smokers, but also to protect the health and safety of non-smokers. The adverse effects of smoking do not only affect the users, but the people who inhale second-hand smoke. Secondhand smoke is more dangerous as it is the combined smoke from the end of a burning cigarette and the smoke that is exhaled by the cigarette smokers. This combination of smoke contains 7000 more chemicals that are toxic and some of these chemicals can even cause cancer. Approximately 88 million Americans who are non smokers are exposed to second-hand smoke every year. According to the Surgeon General’s report, involuntary exposure to cigarette smoke causes premature death and illness among children and adults who do not smoke. Additionally, those children whose parents are smokers have higher risks for SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ear defects, acute respiratory infections, and severe asthma. Smoking mothers, especially pregnant women slows their children’s lung growth and causes respiratory problems. The report also suggests that “the scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.” (Public Health Service, p. 18) The Surgeon General’s Report of 2006 reveals that millions of Americans including children and adults are still exposed to tobacco smoke either in their workplaces or homes. Involuntary smoking is still prevalent in the United States even with the progress made in tobacco control. This findings simply implies that current tobacco control policies such as advertising, and additional taxes are not effective in discouraging people from smoking. Thus, the government needs to resort to a more effective solution- banning cigarette smoking. According to the statistics released by CDC, about 41,000 Americans who are non-smokers die from illnesses caused by second-hand smoke. Banning cigarettes is the only effective policy that would reduce tobacco-related diseases and deaths as other policies proved to be futile. The report from the Surgeon General echoes this conclusion as the report states that “Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate exposures of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke.” (Public Health Service, p.19)
Banning of cigarettes would not only hinder current smokers from smoking, but it would also save millions of people from trying to smoke. Quitting is much more difficult than trying to puff the first cigarette stick. Therefore, the government must ban cigarettes before another millions of Americans try to take their very first puff. Banning cigarette smoking would prevent many Americans from suffering from addiction. Like other recreational drugs, cigarettes are addictive. One cigarette a day may lead to a lifetime of addiction and dependence. This is because cigarettes contain nicotine that is absorbed in the bloodstream when smoked or inhaled. For instance, a regular smoker usually takes 10 puffs on his cigarette during a period of 5 minutes. This means that if he consumes 1 pack of cigarette a day, he will have 250 hits of nicotine. More packs would mean more nicotine inhaled. When this chemical compound enters the bloodstream, it stimulates the adrenal glands immediately. To note, it only takes about ten seconds for the nicotine to reach the brain. The stimulation of the adrenal glands results to the release of adrenaline. This hormone immediately stimulates the body’s central nervous system and enhances blood pressure, heart rate and respiration. This effects is however temporary as smoking continuously will make the body more tolerant to these effects. Nicotine functions similarly with other addictive drugs such as heroin and cocaine. It increases the levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls the feelings of pleasure and reward. Continuous exposure to nicotine lessens the ability of the brain to get the same level of pleasure. As a result, the body seeks for more nicotine in order to get the same level of effect. This makes cigarette smoking extremely addictive even if the user is aware of its negative consequences. Worse, even if the addicted person wants to quit smoking he can not quit right away because he experiences withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include irritability, headache, concentration problems, extreme nicotine cravings, increased appetite and weight gain, fatigue and difficulty sleeping. To manage and cure this symptoms, he would resort to smoking another pack of cigarette. Nicotine addiction is the reason why majority of smokers wanted to quit and most of them have already tried quitting, but the number of current smokers are still greater than the number of ex-smokers.
Some smokers does not believe that cigarette is highly addictive. In fact, most youths who are currently smoking cigarettes believe that they can stop smoking in the future or whenever they wanted to quit. However, they continue their smoking habit until they become adults. “Youths who report use of multiple tobacco products are at higher risk for developing nicotine dependence; about two thirds (62.9 percent) of youths who use more than one tobacco product report tobacco dependence symptoms, compared with 36 percent of those who use one tobacco product.” (Congressional Digest p. 32)
Aside from the negative health consequences to users and non-smokers, smoking cigarettes should be banned because of its massive financial cost. Cigarettes are expensive that a smoker can save thousands of dollars if he starts quitting today. Most of the states charge $1.47on average as tax for each pack of cigarette. Thus, a regular price of a pack of cigarettes in America ranges from $6. However, the price depends on the region where it is being sold. Missouri has the cheapest retail price and sells one pack for only $3.93. But in a state like New York, one pack of smoke costs $9 in areas outside the city. The price fluctuates when it is sold in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island where a pack would cost $11-$13. Smokers really spends a lot for cigarettes. Take for example a regular smoker who consumes one pack each day can spend $2000 annually. For average earners, this amount would comprise 25% of their net income. That is if he is not from New York City. If he is in New York, this smoker could spend around $3000 or more that he could have spend on more important stuff. Smokers’ one pack a day habit does not only damage their lungs and other organs, but they also destroy their bank accounts and wallets. Cigarette smokers also suffer from productivity loss because of acquiring tobacco-related diseases. Some of them are forced to render early retirement because of ill health. They also pay for hospital admissions which make cigarette smoking a great financial burden. The taxes that every state charge on a pack of cigarettes are only effective on smokers who are price conscious. Many Americans are still willing to pay more just to feed their smoking addiction.
While the sale and manufacture of cigarettes have economic benefits for the United States, the total financial burden that is caused by cigarette smoking outweighs such benefits. According to the tobaccofreekids campaign, the “total annual public and private health care expenditures caused by smoking is approximately $170 Billion.” (tobaccofreekids, n.pag) The federal, as well as the state government spent $39.6 billion as payment for smoking-caused Medicaid. The Federal government gives $22.5 billion per year while the local government shares $17.1 billion. In addition, the Federal government spent $45 billion for Medicare expenditures that are caused by smoking and $6.03 billion caused by exposure to second-hand smoke. The government is also spending the national budget on health costs that are caused by cigarette smoking. These costs include the annual spend for the health, behavioral and developmental problems of children and infants who were exposed to second-hand smoke either during their mother’s pregnancy or after their birth. The nation is also suffering from productivity loss of about $156.6 billion due to tobacco-related death and diseases. This amount does not include the productivity loss as a result of smoking-caused disability and sick days. To add, there are other costs from cigarette smoking that are not covered by health care. These costs involve property losses- business and residential, from fires caused by smoking and expenditures for kids whose parent or parents died because of smoking as covered by the Social Security Survivors Insurance. Cigarette smoking is not just a financial burden to smokers, but it also cause massive monetary loss for both the federal and the state government. The money that the government get from tobacco toll is very little as compared to the massive amount that they spend for annual health care costs in smoking-related incidents, illnesses and deaths. The Federal governmen can generate about $10.3 billion revenue in cigarette taxes every year. However, this $10 billion revenue from tobacco taxes is not enough to fund the Medicare, Medicaid, and the Veterans Administration programs. This reality suggests that there must be a long-term solution that would reduce the cases of smoking-related deaths and diseases. Banning of cigarettes would certainly lessen the number of people that are hospitalised because of smoking-related illnesses.
Cigarette smoking should be banned not only because it is harmful to human health, but it also damages the environment. Cigarette butts that are often not disposed properly causes water and land pollution. “Cigarette butts contain all the carcinogenic chemicals, pesticides, and nicotine that make tobacco use the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, yet they are commonly, unconsciously and inexcusably dumped by the trillions (5.6 trillions and counting) into the global environment each year.” (Healton et al. p.1) Burning cigarette butts that are discarded carelessly cause fires. Moreover, the lands and forests that should be filled with trees are converted to tobacco plantation that ruins the ecological balance. Indeed, cigarette smoking must be banned because it hurts the ecosystem and destroys the environment.
As mentioned above, cigarette smoking has several negative impact to the smoker, to the non-smoker, to the government and to the environment. Cigarette smoking is the major factor for the development of the four primary causes of death in the United States; heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, malignancies, and chronic respiratory diseases. Cigarettes also contain cancer-causing chemicals that does not only affect the user, but the non-smokers who involuntary inhale second-hand smoke. Cigarettes contain nicotine that is extremely addictive; thus, allowing its manufacture, sale and use would mean ignoring its known consequences. Additionally, cigarette smoking is a financial burden to the user, as well as the government. The massive health care costs of smoking-related diseases is a tremendous economic burden for the United States. Lastly, cigarette smoking should be banned because it does not only harm the health of the people, but it also ruins the environment. Undisposed cigarette butts are not only a little litter problem but a proof of the adverse environmental impact of cigarette smoking.
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