Each individual must contribute to a sustainable future. However, it is sad to realize that every puff on a cigarette is a guarantee on the partaker’s looming death. Smoking is a ticking time bomb of severe consequences on the whole humanity. That is why most smokers on their death beds regret their disregard for the effects of smoking cigarettes. Tragically, they end up confessing that smoking ended their lives. Smoking is the cause of fatal diseases, such as cancer and some respiratory and vascular illnesses. For instance, CDC(d) outlines that over 16 million Americans are suffering from a condition related to smoking. Besides, smoking claims more than 8 million lives annually (WHO). Thus, it is essential to enlighten the public about the effects of tobacco and the dangers of chemicals contained in cigarettes to secure a brighter future for everyone.
The primary aim of this talk is to focus on the health effects and financial implications of smoking, though the freedom of choice serves as a counter augment. Currently, everyone is either infected or affected by smoking. For instance, the CDC(a) observes that more than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States. The observation depicts that, at some point in life, individuals die as victims of smoking or lose a family member, relative, or friend. Besides, I would like to acknowledge that the information I am sharing derives from credible sources. I chose this topic because I have witnessed the firsthand effects of smoking with close family members. Therefore, I am best suited to address the effects of tobacco from personal experience and supporting evidence from reliable sources.
The Health Effects of Smoking
Smoking harms all the organs of the human body. It reduces immunity and is the genesis of many diseases. According to Qiu et al., cigarette smoking impacts both the innate and adaptive immunity of an individual (1).
- Smoking and Death. Smoking is the primary cause of preventable death in the United States. CDC(b) outlines that more than 480,000 people succumb to smoking-related complications in the United States. Additionally, the organization observes that out of five people in the country, one dies from smoking. Hence, more people succumb to smoking than drug use, road accidents, alcohol use, and firearm-related incidents combined.
- Smoking and Reduced Immunity. Smokers are at a higher risk of contracting lung cancer, stroke, and heart diseases. According to the CDC(b), smoking increases the risk of dying from cancer of the trachea, lung, and bronchus in men by 23 times and women – by 12 times. Overall, smokers are at a higher risk of developing diseases that affect the cardiovascular and respiratory system.
- Smoking and Cancer. Smoking causes cancer in almost all parts of the body due to its toxic substances, such as tar, lead, and arsenic, among other components found in cigarettes. According to CDC(c), smoking can cause cancer of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, trachea, bronchus, and lungs. Besides, it causes leukemia, renal pelvis, kidneys, liver, pancreas, rectum, and colon cancer. Hence, from this observation, it is evident that smoking can become a severe health burden.
The Financial Implication of Smoking
The tobacco industry spends billions in promotion and advertisement about the safe use of its products. Conversely, other sectors, mainly the health care division, contribute more than what the tobacco industry invests in tackling the adverse effects of smoking. Lastly, people spend a lot of money to acquire tobacco products at the detriment of other essentials, such as education and healthy living.
- Smoking is an Expensive Habit. A study conducted by Kendzor et al. shows that about 30.6% of adults in the United States living in poverty, as opposed to 20.4% living above the poverty line, are smokers (702). CDC(e) outlines that the study also shows that majority (21.3%) of smokers are not financially well-off and earn less than $35,000 annually. This means that the average smoker uses about 30% of their monthly earnings on cigarettes. Thus, the high expenditure on cigarettes sees many smokers turn to generic brands that increase the risks associated with smoking even further.
- Medical Expenses Incurred from Smoking. Within two years after quitting smoking, the risk of developing a stroke or cardiovascular and respiratory diseases reduces. Studies show that the world spends approximately $422 billion on health care expenses caused by smoking-related complications (Mendes). Hence, countries should implement strict tobacco control measures to curb massive funding to treat preventable diseases caused by smoking.
- Financial Impact on Families. Smokers realize that they spend thousands of dollars a year on tobacco products and treatment from smoking-related disorders. Kendzor et al. advise that this money could be useful in other aspects of life, such as buying clothes, food, and paying bills (703). When calculating the amount of money spent on cigarettes, smokers should contemplate a situation of burning a massive pile of cash. This analogy supports the fact that smoking is mostly a waste of money. Nonetheless, smoking is neither illegal nor immoral according to the current social standards.
Freedom of Choice
Ban of smoking cuts across privileges and fundamental human rights. An individual is free to choose whether to smoke or not. However, some guidelines enjoying one’s rights should not interfere with others.
- Liberty. Liberty is among the most basic human rights in the United States. The provision directs that Americans are entitled to open a business with rules that allow people to smoke and inhale secondhand smoke. Thus, there are many recreational, social, and occupational activities with higher risks and safety hazards than smoking.
- Personal Decisions on which Risks to Endure. An individual has the right to choose the kind of risks they should tolerate. Even the potential risks associated with inhaling secondhand smoke are not enough to allow the government to illegalize smoking. Some arguments prohibiting smoking will force the government to outlaw contributors to preventable diseases, such as junk food (Friedman et al. 258). Public health advocates also target other contributors, which include alcohol and related risky activities. For instance, the United States once tried to prohibit alcohol, and the approach backfired terribly. Thus, the same phenomenon is likely to happen if the government attempts to ban tobacco products.
- Legal Smoking Age Limit. Legally, a person is allowed to smoke at their discretion after attaining the age of 18. However, states like California and Hawaii have raised the acceptable smoking age to 21. This legal smoking age ensures that only people within the stipulated age bracket can smoke or sell tobacco products. Raising the age limit drastically reduces the number of smokers in a region.
Overall, smoking has adverse effects on individuals’ health. Non-smokers regard smoking as a health risk and an avenue for wasting money. At the same time, smokers consider it as the best stress reliever, pleasure, and entertainment, which is part of fundamental rights. Though smoking adversely affects health and the financial standing of an individual, this does not mean that smoking is illegal or immoral. Though people have different reasons for smoking, I still humbly submit that it is about time Americans quit smoking for healthy living and a brighter future.
CDC(a). “Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 Feb. 2020, www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/index.htm. Accessed 11 Apr. 2020.
CDC(b). “Tobacco-Related Mortality.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 Feb. 2020, www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/tobacco_related_mortality/index.htm. Accessed 11 Apr. 2020.
CDC(c). “What Are the Risk Factors for Lung Cancer?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 Nov. 2019, www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/basic_info/risk_factors.htm. Accessed 11 Apr. 2020.
CDC(d). “Fast Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 Mar. 2020, www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/index.htm. Accessed 11 Apr. 2020.
CDC(e). “Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 Feb. 2020, www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/adult_data/cig_smoking/index.htm. Accessed 11 Apr. 2020.
Friedman, Lissy C., et al. “Tobacco Industry Use of Personal Responsibility Rhetoric in Public Relations and Litigation: Disguising Freedom to Blame as Freedom of Choice.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 105, no. 2, 2015, pp. 250-260.
Kendzor, Darla E., et al. “Financial Strain and Smoking Cessation Among Racially/Ethnically Diverse Smokers.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 100, no. 4, 2010, pp. 702-706.
Mendes, Elizabeth. “Diseases Linked to Smoking Cost the World $422 Billion in Health-related Expenses.” American Cancer Society, 31 Jan. 2017, www.cancer.org/latest-news/diseases-linked-to-smoking-cost-the-world-422-billion-in-health-related-expenses.html. Accessed 11 Apr. 2020.
Qiu, Feifei, et al. “Impacts of Cigarette Smoking on Immune Responsiveness: Up and Down or Upside Down?” Oncotarget, vol. 8, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1-17.
WHO. “Tobacco.” World Health Organization, 26 July 2019, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/tobacco. Accessed 11 Apr. 2020.