Smoking a Private Issue or a Public Problem?

Smoking a Private Issue or a Public Problem?

I am generally for less government interference in my life and the freedom to make informed personal choices.   I have never been a smoker but have known several in my lifetime, so I struggle with the public ban on cigarette smoking. This however may be a personal choice that someone else makes that ends up harming me.   Here is what I discovered.

In 1975 the Centers for Disease Control noted that toxic chemicals from cigarette smoke stay in the air and are inhaled by unsuspecting victims. Thus, the concern over smoking as a private choice by individuals expanded into the public-health issue we are wrestling with today.

How does a cigarette harm you?

A single cigarette is loaded with harmful toxic substances. The four main components of a cigarette are – irritants, nicotine, carbon monoxide and carcinogen all which harm systems in the body.

Irritants – An average cigarette contains irritants like ammonia, formaldehyde and oxides. These irritants cause the respiratory tract to swell.

Carcinogens – There are around 40 kinds of carcinogenic chemicals (cancer promoting) found in a cigarette. Lung cancer is the primary cancer linked to cigarette smoking.

Carbon Monoxide – The carbon monoxide component of the cigarette harms the circulatory system. This disables the capacity of the blood to carry oxygen to the heart.

Nicotine – Nicotine is highly addictive making it very hard to quit smoking if one decided to. Nicotine in the body also results in an increased heart rate and high blood pressure. In 1988 the Surgeon General warned that addiction to nicotine was on the same level as cocaine and heroin addictions.

What are the effects of smoking to one’s health?

  • The immediate effects may be manifested by coughing, burning of the nose and throat or dizziness.
  • Smoking reduces the elasticity of your skin, thus, it will be more vulnerable to skin diseases and allergies.
  • The smoke from cigarettes gets in your eyes and can lead to blindness and cataracts.
  • Smoking is the number one factor of lung cancer. It is a detrimental element that instigates the formation of cancer cells in the body. The carcinogens in cigarettes can lead to other types of cancer beside lung cancer. Carcinogens are the elements that cause cancer cells in the body.
  • Smoking destroys the immune system making the body unable to fight back infection and to ward off harmful bacteria.
  • Smoking is addictive and often leads to hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease is also widespread among smokers. This pertains to the disease affecting the lower limbs of person. This is due to the atherosclerosis or the narrowing of the arteries in the blood vessels of the limb. The narrowing is caused by the building up of plaque
  • A woman smoker may have more difficulty in getting pregnant.

Effects of Second Hand Smoke:

  • Government agencies, scientists and health officials have established that passive smoking or second-hand smoke also has ill effects. Those carcinogens are floating around in the smoke that is exhaled.
  • The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has reported that over 4,000 chemicals are generated by second-hand smoke, with more than 50 of those to be cancer-causing agents.
  • Nicotine is one of several hazardous particulates emitted from smoking and breathed in by passersby. These particulates damage the cilia – the little hairs lining the lungs that help transport mucus which traps accumulated pollutants out of the lungs. When the cilia malfunction, pollutants remain in the lungs and likelihood of influenza and bronchitis, emphysema and other diseases increases.
  • Children who are constantly exposed to the fumes are susceptible to colds, ear infections and breathing problems.
  • A pregnant woman who smokes will harm the baby inside her womb. Studies reveal that cigarette smoking actually increases the probability of having a low birth weight, stillbirths and sudden infant death syndrome.

Since 1964 the government has been waging an anti-smoking advertising campaign to try and curb smoking, therefore improving the health of not only smokers but also those who hang out with smokers. The U.S. Surgeon General issued its first official warning that smoking was hazardous to one’s health in 1964.

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Also, in 1964 a law was passed requiring that health warnings must be integrated into all cigarette advertising and packaging. Policies were also implemented to designate schools, offices and other public places as smoke-free buildings. We are still working on this today.

Smoking has been cited as the cause of over 400,000 deaths in the US every year.

The possibility that smokers die from cancer and heart disease is twice that of their non –smoking counterparts. And all of this disease, from the choice to smoke, effects your employer’s health care costs which come right back to all of us either thru increased employee contributions to your health plan or reduced coverage. If you are a proponent of government health care for all, remember you and are going to be forking over a bigger percentage in taxes to pay for it.

What we know: Second-hand smoke is harmful to our health. Increased costs in health care coverage due to the choices of some to smoke effects my pocketbook. This doesn’t end up seeming like a personal choice of some that doesn’t affect me. We do not seem to be winning the publicity campaign to stop people from choosing to smoke so maybe giving them no place to smoke is the route to take?


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