Cigarettes Should be Illegal Essay
812 Words4 Pages
One of the largest and most problematic health issues in our society is smoking. Smoking is currently the leading cause of death in our country, due to its harmful and addicting contents, such as nicotine and tobacco. Although millions die from it each year, smoking is the single most preventable cause of death as well. Without smoking, a tremendous amount of money and lives will be saved. I think that our country should ban smoking and the production of cigarettes in order to maintain a healthier nation, help save the environment, and prevent the almost 1000 deaths that they cause in fires each year.
My first topic is the health risks and problems that smoking tobacco causes. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable illness and…show more content…
In 2010, 87 percent of the world’s tobacco was grown in the developing world. A modern cigarette manufacturing machine can use up to 3.7 miles of paper an hour. Tobacco plants use more nutrients than many other crops, degrading the soil. Probably the most impact of a cigarette on the environment is the production of them. The land used to grow the crops could be put to better use by planting more trees or food production. Vast quantities of pesticides, fertilizer and herbicides are used on tobacco crops. Some crops require over a dozen applications of pesticides during the three-month growing period. Cigarette butts also do a lot of damage. You might think they were made of cotton, but actually they are often a form of plastic. The polymer acetate filters are comprised of thousands of fibers that can take up to 15-25 years to decompose. The residue from tobacco in the butts also releases toxins into the environment. Trillions of butts are discarded each year. Also discarded cigarettes are a major cause of forest fire in the USA, not to mention fatal house fires. Over 1000 Americans lose their lives a year from tobacco related fires.
Teen smoking is my third and final topic because it is the most shocking. Each day 3,000 children smoke their first cigarette and at least 3 million adolescents are smokers. 20 percent of American teens smoke. In the US today, roughly 6 million teens smoke,
A proposed bill in Oregon to make the possession of cigarettes illegal is well-intended, but from a practical standpoint, it's unlikely to happen, bioethicists and public health experts say.
The ban, sponsored by State Rep. Mitch Greenlick of Portland, would make nicotine a controlled substance, and says possessing more than 0.1 milligrams would be illegal, punishable by a year in prison or a $6,250 fine. Exceptions would be made for people who had a doctor's prescription for the drug, according to the bill.
Tobacco clearly takes a significant toll on the lives of Americans, causing 450,000 premature deaths each year, and drastic measures should be taken to eliminate the habit from our lives, including, some say, banning cigarettes. But others argue that, in today's society, such a goal is overly idealistic, and would be extremely difficult to implement.
"As someone who's looking out for public health, I think it’s a great thing," said Dr. Bradley Flansbaum, a hospitalist at Lenox Hill Hospital in N.Y. "Knowing that tobacco is public enemy No. 1 in preventive illness...I don’t think I can endorse smoking for any reason," Flansbaum said.
However, "Politically, it's going to be a tough if not impossible sell," Flansbaum said.
In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration banned the manufacture and distribution of flavored cigarettes, such as chocolate and cherry, over concerns that the products encouraged youth smoking. However, banning all cigarette products is a different matter entirely. Barriers to passing such a ban include the power of big tobacco companies, the cost of enforcing such a law, and the rise of a black market for cigarettes, experts say.
"Once you have a substance out there like tobacco in wide use it's hard to turn around and make it illegal," said Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University School of Medicine's Division of Medical Ethics, "You can certainly tax it, you can certainly stigmatize it," and educate against its use. But ban it? "In reality, it's not going to happen," Caplan said.
"Smoking has been around too long, and the industries that profit from it are huge and will fight to the end," Caplan said.
Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, co-director of the Drug Policy Research Center at the RAND Corp., a nonprofit research organization, said she was surprised to hear of the bill. "The policy would require an enormous cost to enforce if it is to have any teeth, which most states are not in a position to absorb," Pacula said.
However, others argued such barriers should not deter the action.
"That's really the ultimate goal — to have the world free from the death and destruction it causes," said Dr. Amy Lukowski, clinical director of Health Initiatives Programs for the National Jewish Health Center in Denver. "How we do that? That's the million-dollar question." Although anti-smoking policies have made strides in reducing the number of people who smoke, "I think we have to do something drastic about this," Lukowski said. "[It's] taking the lives of Americans every day." Indeed, a study published today (Jan. 24) in the New England Journal of Medicine found that smoking takes at least 10 years off a person's life.
"I think we should try," said Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. "What's possible begins with what we try to do. I think there is a strong argument for never allowing another child to become addicted to tobacco," Katz said. "This would never be approved for sale today, and we should get rid of it."
Pass it on: The idea to ban cigarettes is well-intended, but unlikely to happen.
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