Although smoking is a proven killer, Americans waste hundreds of dollars each
year on tobacco products. Other drugs that are harmful, such as crack or marijuana, are
illegal in the United States. However, the use of cigarettes, which kills millions
worldwide annually, is perfectly legal. If certain harmful substances are illegal, then
cigarettes should not be permitted either.
Smoking has several harmful effects on the body. Cigarettes cause eighty-five
percent of lung cancer and are responsible for thirty percent of all deaths resulting from
cancer. (Bartecchi, 49) People who have smoked for a significant period of time will
have noticeable problems breathing and will most likely be in poor health. One out of
four deaths of people thirty-five to sixty-four years old result from smoking. On the
average, every cigarette takes five and a half minutes of life away from a smoker.
(Bartecchi, 46) Although restrictions have been placed on the use of cigarettes in public
areas such as restaurants and airplanes, the US has yet to place a ban on smoking.
government frequently inspects items sold to the American public. Commercial products
that may be dangerous such as food, cars, and toys have been recalled in order for
alterations. In the August 1995 issue of consumer reports, twenty-four products were
recalled because of possible dangers to the consumer. These products included a car that
may lose a wheel while in motion, a hair dryer that poses a fire hazard, and cookies that
can cause an allergic reaction. (Consumer Reports, 500) Yet, the sale of cigarettes,
known to be unsafe, has never been prohibited by the government. Why are cigarettes
any different from other products sold in the US.
Cigarettes are not only harmful to users, but are also damaging to all people in the
vicinity of a smoker. Second hand smoke from cigarettes is just as damaging as smoke
inhaled by users. Each year, 53,000 people die from the effects of second hand smoke. A
person living with a spouse who smokes has a thirty percent higher chance of getting
lung cancer. (Bartecchi, 49) Parents who smoke force their children to breathe the fumes
every day. Seventeen percent of lung cancer is attributed to people who grew up with
parents who were smokers. Children of smokers have a lower birth rate and are often less
intelligent. (Bartecchi, 49) People who have chosen to smoke have accepted the
unhealthy risk of the drug. However, nonsmokers have not opted for the hazards involved
with smoking and therefore should not be introduced to these hazards. The government
has chosen not to place a ban on a drug that puts even the nonusers at risk to health
problems. People who do not smoke must always be wary of toxic cigarette fumes that
may be in their presence.
Most people are aware of the health risks involved with smoking. For this reason
cigarette manufacturers have invested much of their advertising campaign to the most
uninformed segment of the population, minors. The average age to start smoking in the
US is fourteen and a half years old. Ads such as the cartoon character Joe Camel, A
camel who rides a motorcycle in the presence of attractive women, are obvious gimmicks
to attract children and teenagers. Before the appearance of 'Joe Camel', Camel cigarettes
made six million dollars from sales to minors. However, just two years after the first
appearance of the cartoon character, sales of Camel cigarettes to minors rose to $476
million. In a recent study, just as many six year old children recognized 'Mickey Mouse'
as 'Joe Camel.' (Bartecchi, 47-48) Thousands of minors become addicted to cigarettes
every year, posing health problems later in life. The US should not allow the sale of a
product aimed at harming our children.
Cigarettes cause health problems in smokers as well as nonsmokers. They harm
adults as they do youth. Although smoking has only negative effects on the body, the use
of cigarettes is legal while other drugs are banned. Most products proven dangerous are
banned or recalled. Cigarettes should be no different.