Rebuttal: Why Cigarettes Should Be Illegal Argumentative Essay
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Smoking cigarettes has historically been considered a leisurely activity that many people engaged in to relieve stress, lose weight, and belong a constantly evolving social world. Tobacco contains nicotine, a highly addictive ingredient that makes it hard for an individual to quit once he or she ingests tobacco on a frequent basis (Woolbright 337). According to the CDC, however, cigarette smoking is the leading cause for over 480,000 fatalities every year in the United States, which translates into one out of every five people dying because they smoke or inhaled tobacco on a frequent basis. As a preventable cause of premature death, smoking claims the lives of more individuals than alcohol consumption, illegal drug use, motor vehicle accidents, gun-related deaths, and the HIV virus combined (Center For Disease Control and Prevention). People should not smoke cigarettes because it not only incurs adverse health effects but also because it is not economically beneficial to society at large. Smoking should be illegal because of the litany of adverse ramifications it spawns, as it endangers both those who smoke the cigarettes as well as their family and peers vis-à-vis second-hand smoking. Smoking not only spawns harmful health risks, it also hampers people economically as a result of escalating medical costs as well as taxes and increases in insurance due to poor health.
Many people—especially females—take up smoking cigarettes because they believe that it will help them lose weight as well as alleviate their anxiety and stress despite how harmful it is to human health. The tobacco industry specifically targets women in its rhetorical strategies in its advertisements, which project smoking as a mechanism or habit through which people can lose weight and slim down while also appearing socially desirable (American Lung Association). Smoking advertisements showcase attractive and slim female models to encourage other females and young teenagers alike to embrace smoking as an activity that manifested their autonomy, freedom, and independence (American Lung Association). In 2008 alone, about 21.1 million women living in the United States smoked cigarettes on a frequent basis, many of them being teenage girls who wanted to curb their appetite in order to prevent any weight gain in order to emulate the glamorous and autonomous women featured in cigarette advertisements. One study reveals that both adolescent girls and boys believe that smoking is a viable mechanism to suppress and control their appetite and physical appearance. Tomeo et al. conducted an experiment in which they interviewed 16,862 children between the ages of nine and fourteen in order to analyze links between behaviors regarding weight control, weight preoccupations, and the contemplation about or the initiation of smoking cigarettes. The authors concluded that the onset of cigarette smoking during adolescence directly relates to preoccupations about weight, which necessitated parents and schools to "dispel the notion of tobacco use as a method of weight control" (Tomeo et al. 924). Furthermore, smokers often validated their habit as an effective way to reduce "negative moods" such as stress, anxiety, anger and/or depression (Kassel et al. 270). Kassel et al. concluded that the nexus between negative attitudes and nicotine intake/consumption remains a nuanced and complex one. Thus, people's motives for smoking cigarettes are indeed illusory with regards to their success and must be juxtaposed with and outweighed against the negative impact smoking has on human health.
Physicians and pundits alike point to the health risks spawned by cigarette smoking, especially to the statistics regarding the link between smoking cigarettes and mortality rates, in order to convince people to quit smoking. In the past fifty years, the risk of death in both male and female cigarette smokers has exponentially increased (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). According to the CDC, cigarette smoking causes a litany of potentially fatal diseases and harms practically every bodily organ while reducing the general health of frequent smokers. The risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, and/or other cardiovascular ailments—all of which constitute the leading causes of death in the United States—spikes almost two to four times because smoking directly harms blood vessels by thickening and narrowing them. Such effects can cause in smokers a rapid heartbeat, which elevate blood pressure and subsequently renders them vulnerable to blood clotting. If blood clots prohibit blood from reaching the heart, the individual automatically is at-risk for a heart attack because the heart lacks access to an adequate oxygen supply which causes the heart muscle to die. Blood clots can also cause a stroke by preventing blood from flowing to the brain. Quitting smoking even after just one year of frequent cigarette smoking profoundly lessons a person's risk of incurring deteriorating cardiovascular health conditions. Moreover, smoking cigarettes is directly associated with respiratory diseases because nicotine damages airways and alveoli, or the tiny air vacs, that are in the lungs. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), bronchitis, and emphysema are also common lung diseases that cigarette smokers suffer from. Medical experts link smoking with many cancers, thereby becoming the primary causes of lung cancer for those who have smoked cigarettes for a protracted period of time. Smoking, however, can cause various other kinds of cancer, which includes cancer in the bladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, oropharynx and kidneys, among others. Smoking not only poses a litany of health risks to cigarette smokers themselves but also to those around them. According to the CDC, second-hand smoking causes approximately 34,000 deaths in non-smokers who develop cardiovascular diseases and almost 8,000 premature deaths by stroke (CDC 2). Secondhand smoking also amplifies the risk for developing lung cancer by approximately thirty percent as well as for having a premature heart attack (2).
Smoking particularly impacts women's reproductive health, as infants exposed to smoke often experience detrimental and sometimes fatal effects. Many studies have assessed the adverse consequences spawned by maternal cigarette smoking on both the mother as well as on the baby and/or infant ( Hofhuis et al.). Many states including Alabama require documentation on birth certificates regarding whether or not the mother smokes or ingests tobacco (Woolbright). Despite the Surgeon General's warning that maternal smoking can cause premature birth, fetal injury, or dangerously low birth rates, fifteen to thirty-seven percent of pregnant women nonetheless continue to smoke cigarettes (Hofhuis et al.). Mothers who smoke cigarettes often engage in other high risk behaviors that also affect the health of their infants. Low birth weight remains the primary consequence of maternal smoking, although the corpus of existing literature on the subject points to premature birth and infant death as major consequences of the habit as well. Infant exposure to tobacco after birth renders the child vulnerable and at- risk of death vis-à-vis respiratory diseases and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Woolbright). Hofhuis, de Jongste, and Merkus closely examined how smoking during pregnancy as well as passive smoking thereafter impacted morbidity and mortality rates in children. Statistics point to other obstetric complications due to cigarette smoking which includes spontaneous abortions, ectopic pregnancies, premature rupture of membranes, and complications with the placenta. It curtails the lung growth necessary for fetuses in utero, which weakens the lungs for the child after he or she is born and sharply increases the child's chance of suffering from asthma as well as other debilitating respiratory diseases. Moreover smoking cigarettes affects brain development and behavior and lowers intellectual acuity. Many studies link maternal smoking to the acquisition of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder in their children. Thus, the mortality and well-being of children directly correlate with whether the mother smokes cigarettes during the prenatal and/or postnatal periods. Children must be protected from smoke exposure, which calls for the need for policies to prevent pregnant mothers from smoking cigarettes due to the direct and indirect consequences it has on their children.
Beyond the litany of health problems caused by cigarette smoking, the leisurely activity also impacts an individual’s economic situation not only through increased medical costs but also because cigarettes are pricey and stringently taxed. Many medical studies assess the medical costs of smoking in the United States and the "economic burden that smoking imposes on a society" (Warner et al. 290). According to the authors, many health insurers and state governments in addition to several other countries have filed lawsuits against the tobacco industry due to the increased healthcare costs incurred by smoking tobacco. Many smokers in the U.S. depend on financial assistance from state governments vis-à-vis the Medicaid program, a healthcare system that provides financial aid in medical costs for low-income families. Eventually, the tobacco industry settled a litany of lawsuits waged against it in Mississippi, Minnesota, Florida and Texas. In these cases, the tobacco industry agreed to pay thirty six billion dollars over a twenty-five year period (Bloch et al.). The medical literature Warner, Hodgson, and Carroll examined regarding the medical costs of cigarette smoking and smoking-related maladies elucidate that almost eight percent of an individual’s personal medical care costs go towards treating illnesses, diseases, and deadly conditions that are directly related to cigarette smoking. These numbers, however, do not adequately evince the costs caused by less severe ailments stemming from exposure to smoking tobacco. Nonetheless, statistics underscore how medical costs represent merely one strain of the financial burden cigarette smoking puts on people not just in the United States but also globally.
Beyond just medical costs, cigarette smoking-related health problems and premature deaths often leads to absenteeism in the work force, which results in a net loss of economic productivity that further exacerbates the financial strains that smokers and their families and friends encounter. Ault et al. investigated the causes of absenteeism in the workforce and ascertained that cigarette smokers miss workdays approximately thirty-two percent more than non-smokers did. As such, approximately eighty-one million days of work are lost annually in the U.S. as a result of cigarette smoking. However, the authors concluded that smoking alone and its detrimental consequences cannot be completely blamed for absenteeism. Those who smoke cigarettes often engaged in other high-risk activities including alcoholism tended to be younger, blue-collar workers (Ault et al.). This definable group statistically missed more workdays in comparison to others, which further complicates the link between absenteeism and smoking tobacco. Other studies reify these conclusions by demonstrating how non-smokers enjoy greater productivity in the work place than their smoking counterparts, resulting in a disparity in salary earnings (Centers For Disease Control And Prevention). At the micro level, smoking cigarettes is high in cost and poses a financial burden to consumers as well as a detriment within the realm of insurance policy (Brown). The federal government has levied exorbitant taxes on cigarettes, which has hiked up their costs, due to the adverse health consequences cigarettes spawn. Insurance companies also place high strains on cigarette smokers with penalties for such frowned upon lifestyle choices. Interestingly, life insurance can be raised or denied merely because an individual smokes cigarettes on a quotidian basis. Thus, smoking has adverse effects on society and the economy at-large as well as the personal financial conditions of smokers.
Ault, R. W., Jr., R. E., Jackson, J. D., Saba, R. S., and D.S. Saurman. “Smoking and Absenteeism.” Applied Economics, 23(1999): 743-754. Print.
Bloch, M., Daynard R, and R. Roemer. “A Year of Living Dangerously: the Tobacco Control Community Meets the Global Settlement.” Public Health Rep 1998.113(2000): 488-497.
Brown, A. B. “Cigarette Taxes and Smoking Restrictions: Impact and Policy Implications.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 77.4(1994): 946-951. Print.
“Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2015. Web. 7 Apr. 2015 http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smokin g/
“Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 5 Mar. 2014. Web. 7 Apr. 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/health_effects
Hodgson, TA. “Cigarette Smoking and Lifetime Medical Expenditures.” Millbank Q 1992, 70, 81-125. Print.
Hofhuis, W., de Jongste, J. C., and P.J. Merkus. “Adverse Health Effects of Prenatal and Postnatal Tobacco Smoke Exposure on Children.” Arch Dis Child, 88(2003): 1086-1090. Print.
Kassel, J. D., Paronis, C. A., and L.R. Stroud.“Smoking, Stress, and Negative Affect: Correlation, Causation, and Context Across Stages of Smoking.” Psychological Bulletin, 129.2(2003): 270-304. Print.
Tomeo, C. A., Field, A. E., Berkey, C. S., Colditz, G. A., and A.L. Frazier, A. L. “Weight Concerns, Weight Control Behaviors, and Smoking Initiation.” Pediatrics, 104.4(1999): 918-924.
Warner, K., Hodgson, T., and C. Carroll. “Medical Costs of Smoking in the United States: Estimates, Their Validity, and Their Implications.” Tobacco Control, 8.3(1999): 290-300.
“Women and Tobacco Use - American Lung Association.” American Lung Association. N.d. web. 7 Apr. 2015 http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/about-smoking/facts- figures/women-and-tobacco-use.html
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