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Smoking - Research Paper Example

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This seemingly obvious revelation by the U.S. Surgeon General in the mid-1960’s led to television advertising for cigarettes disappearing and the appearance of warning labels on tobacco products. Although the word has been…
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Heath Risks of Smoking and Second Hand Smoke Breathing in smoke is an unhealthy practice. This seemingly obvious revelation by the U.S. Surgeon General in the mid-1960’s led to television advertising for cigarettes disappearing and the appearance of warning labels on tobacco products. Although the word has been officially out for 35 years cigarette smoking continues to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. In addition, secondhand smoke adversely affects millions more, a problem which has more recently been addressed by the banning of smoking in public places. The inhalation of smoke, whether directly or indirectly, causes death, a slow, painful, tortuous one.
A person who smokes subtracts and average of 14 years from their lives and significantly lowers the quality of life in all the years they continue the habit. The country’s economy loses as well, $75 billion in health care costs and $82 billion in productivity each year. “Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and disease, costing us too many lives, too many dollars and too many tears. If we are going to be serious about improving health and preventing disease we must continue to drive down tobacco use.” (“New Surgeon,” 2004) Smoking causes many negative health issues. Many were identified in 1964. A partial list includes lung, throat, mouth and bladder cancers, heart disease and chronic bronchitis. A 2004 report added stomach, kidney and pancreatic cancer, pneumonia and periodontitis among others. Statistics show that since 1964 more than 12 million Americans have died and another 25 million living today will likely die due to illnesses associated with smoking. (“Smoking”, 2004) COPD, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, affects smokers almost exclusively. It cause severe breathing problems, slowing choking the sufferer until they finally succumb and die by asphyxiation. Cigarettes that are marketed as low tar and nicotine do not reduce the harmful effects of smoking. According to former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, “There is no safe cigarette, whether it is called ‘light,’ ‘ultra–light,’ or any other name.” (“New Surgeon,” 2004)
Secondhand smoke (SHS), that which is inhaled by a non-smoker unlucky enough to be in the close vicinity of a smoker, has been shown to be a cancer causing agent and affects the non-smoker to at least the same degree as the smoker. Cigarette smoke has more than 4,000 chemicals and, maybe surprisingly, SHS contains 7,000, 250 of which have been found to be harmful and more than 60 are cancerous. SHS is linked with all the same health issues smokers’ face. Approximately 46,000 non-smokers die from heart disease, one million kids have asthma related problems and many thousands are hospitalized due to lung infections each year as a result of SHS. (“Secondhand,” 2011) “A 2006 surgeon generals report confirmed that secondhand smoking (also called involuntary or passive smoking) can kill, and it concluded that there is no amount of exposure to secondhand smoke that is safe. The more secondhand smoke you breathe in, the more your health risks increase.” (“Effects,” 2011). Unborn children are also a victim of SHS. Smoking during pregnancy has been associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, mental retardation, low birth weight and premature delivery. The more cigarettes a mother-to-be smokes, the greater the danger to her unborn baby. Research is still being conducted but women should know that a possible connection exists between SHS and breast cancer.
Since the 1960’s, scientific evidence has shown that smoking is a dangerous habit which leads to numerous illnesses for the smoker. More recent studies reveal additional health issues related to smoking and that secondhand smoke may be even worse. Despite the horrific repercussions hundreds of thousands of Americans will die agonizing deaths this year. Cigarettes are literally poisonous, a widely known fact, yet millions continue to ‘light up’ every day negatively affecting their health as well as everyone who might be close by.
Works Cited
“Effects of Secondhand Smoke” WebMD. Web. 2011. December 7, 2011 “New Surgeon Generals Report Expands List of Diseases Caused by Smoking” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (May 27, 2004). Web. December 7, 2011 “Secondhand Smoke” American Cancer Society 2011. Web. December 7, 2011 “Smoking a lot more harmful than previously thought” News Medical Web. December 7, 2011 Read More
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