Smoking Sure

8 August 2016

For many, what starts as a teenage attempt to fit in with their peers leads to a life long battle with smoking. One can remember the “Marlboro Man”, candy cigarettes, and let us not forget the Virginia Slim slogan, “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby”. Yes, smoking sure has come a long way. The smoking hay day of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s is gone. One is now ostracized in society if they make the choice to continue to smoke. Anti-smoking campaigns advertising the health associated risks with smoking and government mandated laws surrounding its use are making it harder to continue to smoke.

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All one needs to do is watch the television or read the newspaper and they will more than likely see a commercial touting the effects that smoking has caused an individual; or read an article about another ban that has been placed on public spaces. Can these anti-smoking campaigns influence one to quit smoking by giving them a more realistic view of the health related risks involved and will smoking bans place such an impediment on smoking that one just decides to quit?

Tobacco and its use has been around for centuries, however the health associated risks with using tobacco have not always been recognized. Some early Native Americans used tobacco as part of their religious rituals and by the late 1800’s mass production made it more widespread. The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that globally there are 1. 3 billion smokers and the number of tobacco users is anticipated to increase to 1. 7 billion by the year 2020 (“Smoking”).

Tobacco is one of the most addictive legal substances on the market today, with nicotine being the most addictive ingredient found in cigarettes (“Smoking Bans”). In an article, “Crackdown on Smoking”, Clark reports that cigarettes “contain 4000 chemicals, including benzene, ammonia and hydrogen cyanide, many of which are poisonous or cancer-causing to otherwise healthy nonsmokers”. These chemicals can increase a smoker’s risk of heart, stroke, and lung diseases. Research regarding the risks that smoking causes continues to progress.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) continues to bring awareness to the tragedies that occur due to smoking: An estimated 443,000 Americans die each year as a result of smoking-related illnesses, and the CDC estimates that more than 8 million people in the United States currently have diseases caused by smoking, including many resulting from exposure to so-called secondhand or “passive” smoke. Smoking, the CDC asserts, is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States (“Smoking Bans”).

Even if one chooses not to smoke they are not immune to the consequences smoking has; we are all affected by the choices others make when choosing to smoke. An overwhelming $193 billion dollars was spent on healthcare in 2004 due to smoking (“Smoking Bans”). One can remember when smoking was an acceptable part of society. Smoking was considered sexy and an indication of high stature if one smoked. During the 1960’s it was not uncommon to see people smoking in restaurants and bars, smoking was even acceptable in the workplace. It’s hard to imagine it now but doctors even smoked while tending to their patients.

But those times have changed due in large part to public awareness surrounding the use of tobacco. Public awareness with the risks associated with secondhand smoke has been the catalyst for laws to protect those from it. Clark emphasizes this stating: The impetus for the anti-smoking movement goes beyond the familiar science that links smoking to 434,000 annual deaths from heart disease, cancer, stroke and other maladies. The broader issue is passive smoke – also called secondhand smoke, side stream smoke, involuntary smoking and environmental tobacco smoke. The movement for change started in the 1960’s.

Since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report “Smoking and Health”, the Federal Government has enacted laws throughout the years which have started the course for change for those who smoke. Some of the more significant laws were the 1965 Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act which required health warning labels on all cigarette packages, and in 1970 all television and radio cigarette advertising were banned. President Bill Clinton in 1996 authorized numerous restrictions which included banning the advertisement of cigarettes within a 1,000 foot radius of schools or playgrounds, and the industry could no longer give away free cigarettes or promotional items that had a tobacco logo on them. Finally in 2009 Congress passed a bill which gave the FDA extensive control over the industry (“Smoking Bans”). With teenage smoking on the rise the 1970 advertising ban was in part an attempt to discourage underage smoking. Tobacco companies were targeting underage smokers with their savvy advertising ploys which presented an image of being cool or popular. Camel brand cigarettes even used a cartoon character “Joe Camel”, who became as widely recognized as Mickey Mouse, to help target these underage smokers.

To counteract these marketing schemes, anti-smoking groups have established their own marketing tactics to present the long term effects that smoking causes in a more dramatic way. These campaigns show graphic images of people who used to smoke and the devastating consequences it has caused them. The message is clear; smoking is dangerous. Federal laws have had an impact on the anti-smoking movement, however; it is the state and local laws that have caused the biggest impact.

These state laws have been the hardest on smokers by banning smoking in public places. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a huge advocate of the anti-smoking movement has seen how effective these laws can be. In 2002 he signed into law the elimination of smoking in the workplace, raised cigarette taxes, and ran anti-smoking advertising campaigns to educate the public. He did not just impose laws though, he also offered help to those who wanted it by giving away free nicotine patches so those who wanted to quit had a resource to help them.

Bloomberg reports that “there are 300,000 fewer smokers in New York City than there were six years ago”. In partnership with WHO, Bloomberg has developed a strategy called MPOWER, this strategy has six solutions that have proved to save lives: monitor tobacco use and prevention policies, protect people from second-hand smoke, offer to help people quit, warn about the dangers of tobacco, enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and raise taxes on tobacco.

In conclusion, one can see that it is becoming increasingly difficult to continue the choice to smoke. New laws and bans are taking away a person’s right to freely smoke where they wish and the government and anti-smoking crusaders will continue this fight until the battle on smoking is won. This is not an issue that will easily be solved and we must all work together to find the solution to this controversial issue. Bloomberg sums it up by stating, “Tobacco has become the world’s leading cause of death.

If we do nothing, tobacco may kill 1 billion people by the end of this century. But only if we do nothing. Skeptics say that the problem of tobacco use is too culturally entrenched to solve. But part of taking on an entrenched problem-whether it’s in health or education or public safety-involves challenging people’s expectations of what is possible”. Anything is possible if we all work together. One must decide, is this a challenge worth taking?

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