Cigarette smoking should be banned. Cigarette smoking is a dangerous habit that not only affects the user in a negative physical and psychological way but also endangers others around them. Would you play Russian roulette – A deadly game of chance involving a revolver and a single bullet– and then force others around you to participate? Cigarette smoking has detrimental effects on both the user and innocent bystanders effectively initiating a game of Russian roulette. Considering the dangers of cigarettes, banning them could potentially protect society from their dangerous effects.
The physical effects of smoking are quite frightening and include a wide variety of diseases. These include but are not limited to: cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and a wide variety of cancers. A common outcome of the more serious tobacco related diseases is death. It is noted on the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) website that ‘More deaths are caused each year by tobacco than all deaths caused by HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined. (CDC – Fact Sheet – Tobacco-Related Mortality – Smoking & Tobacco Use, 2011) With all this evidence pointing to the physical dangers of cigarettes, why then do people continue choosing to engage in this behavior? Perhaps the psychological effects of cigarettes can account for the continuation of their use. Cigarettes can have not only a stimulating effect, but also a perceived calming effect and can also induce feelings of euphoria. Nicotine in tobacco causes these perceived effects and feelings.
Nicotine is a psychoactive drug found in tobacco products, and it is this chemical that causes users to develop a dependency on cigarettes. One particular cause for alarm is taken from the CDC website. ‘Research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol. ’ (CDC – Fact Sheet – Smoking Cessation – Smoking & Tobacco Use. 14 Nov. 2011) With this in mind, we now start to understand the psychological dangers of smoking cigarettes. The addiction compels the user to continue smoking.
Having looked at the physical and psychological effects of smoking on the users, let us now take a look at how detrimental cigarette smoking is to non-smokers. Cigarette smoking is extremely dangerous to non smokers. Secondhand smoke is a mixture of side stream smoke — smoke from the end of a lighted cigarette—and mainstream smoke—smoke exhaled by a smoker. This secondhand smoke contains 250 known harmful chemicals of which 60 are known to cause cancer. This dangerous concoction of chemicals in the smoke puts those that have chosen not to smoke in harm’s way.
According to the website of the American Cancer Society, each year, second hand smoke is responsible for ‘an estimated 46,000 deaths from heart disease’, “About 3400 lung cancer deaths’, and ‘Between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in children’. (“Secondhand Smoke. “, 14 Nov. 2011) The list carries on, but we can now see how cigarette smoking not only affects smokers, but non smokers too. As detrimental as cigarettes are to everyone’s health, there are still those that claim it is their right to be able to smoke.
Opponents of cigarette banning claim that it is their civil right to choose to smoke and that society does not have the right to dictate what people do to their bodies, regardless of whether it is unhealthy for them or not. They claim that if the government bans cigarettes on the basis that it is harmful to one’s health, then they may as well ban other things that pose a health risk, like “junk food”. The problem with this argument is that while eating junk food does pose a health risk to the person eating it, there is no immediate health risk to the people around them.
Even governments have started to recognize the dangers of cigarettes by allocating smoke free zones where smoking is not allowed. Even though this is a step in the right direction, it still does not keep everyone safe from the dangers of cigarette smoking. By examining the all the information, it is easy to see that cigarette smoking is particularly dangerous on both physical and psychological levels while also needlessly endangering non-smokers. Could the banning of cigarettes potentially wrestle the revolver from the hands of the smoker and finally put an end to this dangerous game of Russian roulette?