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Smoking is an act in which a substance, mainly tobacco or cannabis, is burnt and the smoke inhaled into the body system of the smoker. A smoker is a person engaged in the act of smoking. This practice has been in existence for a very long time. Despite its harmful and far reaching health effects, people still practice it. Research has shown that smoking, regardless of the extent to which it is carried out, has negative effects on the health of the people involved. Today the most commonly smoked item is cigarettes. They are manufactured by tobacco industries. Tobacco is also available locally and some people roll the leaves and smoke them.
Smoking has far reaching effects on the health. They affect both the smoker and the non-smoker who exposed to the smoke. Tobacco related diseases are the biggest killer diseases on the earth. It is estimated that half of all active smokers die from tobacco related diseases. This is a huge number considering the total number of smokers in the world. Smoking can cause cancer, emphysema and heart diseases (International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2002; 11).
Cigarettes contain tobacco, which has more than 4000 chemical compounds. Of these compounds there are about 400 which are harmful to your health. The most damaging chemicals found in tobacco smoke are nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide. These chemicals come from burning the tobacco in the cigarette. Nicotine is the addictive substance that keeps the smoker hooked up to the habit. When it enters into the body, it causes a feeling of wellness to the smoker, making him want more and more of it. In this way, step by step, he becomes addicted and for him to perform normally, he must take in some nicotine. This renders him dependent on cigarettes.
Continued and increased smoking results to increased levels of inhaled tar. Tar causes soot to form inside the lungs. The soot forms a coating inside the lungs like the one in chimneys. Tar contains certain harmful elements such as benzene and acrylonitrile, which damage the delicate cells inside the lungs. This leads to mutations occurring in the DNA of these cells leading to the lung cancer (International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2002; p2). It has been reported that 90% of all lung cancer cases are as a result of smoking. This is a very dangerous disease which has claimed a lot of lives. A large amount of tar deposited on the lungs also causes emphysema, a disease in which the complex air passages inside the lungs break down. This leads to void spaces in the lungs which do not absorb oxygen as the lung tissues do. This results in shortness of breath. This is yet another serious disease brought about by smoking. Quitting smoking at the early stage reduces further increase in risk of lung cancer (International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2002; p3).
Carbon monoxide that is in tobacco smoke is a very dangerous gas. It is odorless, colorless and it is hard to notice if you are inhaling it. When this gas gets inside the lungs, it takes the place of oxygen in the blood, meaning that less oxygen reaches the organs of the smoker such as the brain, heart and muscles. This may lead to dysfunction of these organs.
Another bad effect of smoking is its effect on non-smokers who are around the smoker. Second hand smoke may sometimes be more dangerous than that inhaled by the smoker. This results in severe effects on the non-smoker. In this case, it is hard to control the behavior of people around you.
Smoking is quite expensive activity. Smoking a packet of cigarettes a day may cost you a fortune. With its addictive nature, smokers will do anything to ensure they get this stuff, even if it means missing their meals. On average, a packet of cigarettes goes for about $4. A smoker who smokes a pack daily for ten years ends up spending almost $15000 on cigarettes alone, a big amount which could have been used in other useful ventures. Smoking may also become a financial burden. Not every smoker can afford to buy himself cigarettes every day. There reaches a time when he starts to depend on others. This can be a nuisance to the affected people, who are usually family members. For others, it may reap them of their breadwinner. If the smoker becomes an addict and spends a lot of his money on cigarettes, he will spend little on his family. If he is the sole breadwinner of the family, it may lead to serious problems in the family. Smoking related diseases also become a financial burden to the family. In Britain, it is estimated that $3 billion is spent to treat smoking related diseases (Anderson, 2005: 26).
Smoking affects the social life of smokers. When they start smoking, they may lose valuable friends and close relatives who are opposed to smoking. This will have a negative effect on their social life since it will mean getting new people to socialize with. In some cases, a person may also lose his job. The employer may grow intolerant to the smoking habit and decide to fire the employee if he does not stop smoking. Since it is very difficult to quit smoking, the employee may end up losing his job. This may have a negative effect on his life.
Smoking has much more negative effects than positive. It causes death, loss of jobs, dependence and other problems. A positive effect of smoking is that it creates jobs for people working in tobacco industries and it is a source of government tax. However, if its positive and negative effects were to be compared, the negative effects would outweigh the positive effects. The numbers of deaths that occur every year are a big loss to the whole world. They are people who could have driven the world to a better and higher level in one way or the other. People who become very sick to an extent of being looked after are another loss. These people could have been doing positive work in their respective fields to drive the world forward.
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One may argue that smoking does not kill as many people as some other things do. For example in the movie “Thank You for Smoking”, the characters argue that guns kill a lot more people than smoking does. The movie is a comedy in which Nick lobbies for the tobacco industry. He has the ability to turn any argument to his favor. However, the effects of smoking are evident in the movie. Nick tries to convince people that it is their responsibility to keep Robin, a 15-year-old boy dying of cancer, alive and smoking.
All these effects associated with smoking have only one cure. This cure seems impracticable given the number of smokers in the world today. This is illegalizing smoking. This is not a thing that can be done overnight. It has to follow by stages. First, the factories should be closed, to ensure that no more cigarettes are manufactured. A quit smoking plan can then be rolled out to help the smokers to quit. This will be very helpful for them to ensure they adapt well in the new life. All in all, after illegalizing smoking, the greatest beneficiaries are the people, smokers included. If there was no smoking, less people would die of lung cancer. That means cancer related deaths would fall to a very small percentage, actually less than 5%. All problems associated with smoking would also come to an end.
Illegalizing smoking is not a walk in the park. It is an issue that should be approached with utmost care to minimize resistance. It should be a gradual process, to ensure a smooth transition of smokers. It may face challenges from tobacco industries and smokers. However, effort should be made to explain the benefits of quitting and eliminating smoking in their lives. If well conducted, it may turn out to be one of the greatest gifts to ourselves, eliminating the dangers that come with smoking. A lot of people would be saved from this monster called smoking.