As one popular saying goes, “Smoking is harmful to your health,” but one would ask why people across the globe would continue smoking. By definition, smoking refers to the inhalation of hydrocarbon vapors and gasses generated through burning tobacco in a hand-rolled cigarette. Two main things make smoking tobacco a harmful activity, including smoke and the chemicals in cigarettes. Indeed, tobacco contains more than 4000 chemicals, with more than 50 of them being categorized as carcinogens. In lieu of this, many countries, especially the developed ones, have been making progress in reducing tobacco production, with the United States being on the front line (Golden 32). Therefore, it is imperative to discuss the factors that would necessitate banning tobacco production in the U.S., including increased morbidity and mortality rates as well as risk factors to the human body associated with its consumption.
The issue of banning tobacco production in the United States, as well as other parts of the globe, has stirred heated conversations and debates. The proponents for banning tobacco production feel that imposing a ban will lead to a wide range of illegal activities, such as getting it into the black market. They also argue that since there are many individuals who are currently addicted, it will not be possible to impose a total ban. In this case, they assert that banning the production of tobacco will lead to a downfall in the United States’ economy, especially the agricultural sector as well as the business industry. On the other hand, the opponents hold that banning will not only bring about an increase in savings for those who use it, but it will also help conserve our environment.
The State of Smoking
Throughout the chronological accounts of occurrences and events in human civilization, tobacco has been one of the most deadly but uncontrolled products. Every year, more than six million people lose their lives due to diseases related to the consumption of cigarettes and other tobacco products. In fact, billions could be spent each year if the course is not reversed through medication and rehabilitation. As a matter of fact, even if the rates of consumption would drop to zero in the next few decades, we would still have numerous numbers of deaths afterward due to the high number of individuals consuming tobacco despite the measures put by the government to control its use, for instance, increasing its cost (Greene 1). Tobacco products are defective in that they not only have immediate perilous repercussions for the users but also kill more than half of their long-term consumers. In essence, these products have been found to be addictive by design.
Tobacco as a Major Cause of Morbidity and Mortality
An interview with Allan Brandt on the food and drug administration in America gives credence to the idea that cigarette smoking is one of the major causes of mortality and morbidity. However, it is the most harmful product legitimately sold in almost all parts of the world, including the United States. Brandt, the author of the article, FDA Regulation of Tobacco, and an associate professor of the history of medicine at the Harvard school of medicine, holds that there are significant advantages that would be derived from the regulation of tobacco, especially in the public health arena. One of the advantages of the regulation of tobacco by the FDA is that it would help in limiting access to tobacco among the youth as well as the younger generation, which is one of the most important causes of the development of nicotine addiction in tobacco consumption.
Indeed, various studies have shown that smoking at an early age increases the chances of addiction and the development of several illnesses attributable to tobacco, including cancers of the lungs, among others. Russell conducted research to evaluate the levels of addiction in individuals who start smoking at an early age. He found that there were serious addiction symptoms, including the urge to smoke, irritability and anxiety, and failure in the attempts to stop smoking in youths within days or only a few weeks after occasional smoking was initiated (293). He also became aware that individuals who start smoking in their early years increase their risk of becoming chain smokers throughout their lives. A child who begins smoking at 12 has a higher chance of becoming a regular smoker by the time he or she reaches 14 years of age. It was also noted that among the 3500 teenagers who start smoking, more than 1000 become regular smokers. In addition, Russell avers that nearly 90% of teenagers who engage in regular smoking activities report strong cravings for tobacco and have tried to quit smoking with little success. Therefore, if the FDA regulates tobacco production, it will lower the addictive effect of tobacco among the youth as there will be limited access to smoking. The fact that tobacco is addictive is one of the reasons its production should be banned not only in the United States but also across the globe.
Argument and Counterargument on how Tobacco Boosts the U.S. Economy
One of the common arguments against the ban on tobacco products in the United States is that it boosts the country’s economy. Those against banning tobacco production hold that the revenue collected from the business and agriculture industries would be a huge downfall. Companies that deal with the production of tobacco products are huge contributors to the United States’ economy; hence, banning its production would lower the economic development of the nation as a whole. An increase in tobacco production would translate to an increase in trading taxes. As noted in the trends, tobacco production in 2012, the production of tobacco has been decreasing. However, America is still ranked among the top tobacco-producing countries, along with Brazil, China, and India.
In addition, banning tobacco will affect both the revenue as well as the farmers who engage in tobacco farming activities. In fact, thousands of United States’ citizens engage in tobacco farming for their livelihood. According to the CDC statistics in July 2016, America produced tobacco totaling around 800 million pounds four years ago. Indeed, 19 states in America engage in tobacco production, including Kentucky and Georgia as well as North Carolina. Therefore, banning its production will affect the farmers, who will lose their jobs and, hence, lower the government revenue as they will not be able to pay taxes.
Economic Expenditures Linked to Tobacco Use
Individuals who are against banning tobacco production hold that consumption of tobacco products increases throughput. In other words, individuals who use tobacco products, such as drivers, find it hard to concentrate on their work if they do not smoke. For instance, various drivers have indicated that if they do not take a tobacco puff in the morning, they feel sleepy when driving and cannot concentrate, which is a fact that increases their vulnerability in causing accidents, hence risking their lives as well as that of other road users. Although smoking tobacco might help individuals to increase their productivity, it is for a short while. This is because a wide range of economic expenditures is associated with tobacco consumption. In the United States, individuals suffering from tobacco consumption-related illnesses cost them more than three hundred billion dollars annually, either from the direct cost of medical attention or in loss of productivity (CDC). Important to note is that not only the primary users of tobacco are at risk of developing health predicaments related to tobacco use, and individuals are exposed to secondhand smoke.
Another reason tobacco products should be banned in the United States is that it would help lower the rates of child labor and the health risk that children working in tobacco farms are exposed to. Engaging in child labor is common on tobacco farms in the United States. The video “Made in the USA” has helped expose how young children engage in farming activities on tobacco farms. In fact, this video has described how young children exposed to these environments suffer from a wide range of health issues. The short video interviews have increased the awareness of the detrimental repercussions of handling tobacco raw materials. Indeed, children working on these farms are exposed to various hazards, including nicotine and pesticides such as neurotoxins as well as other dangers.
In the video, children working on the farms reported getting sick with several symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness, vomiting, headaches, and migraines. In addition, children and adults working on tobacco farms work for long durations with little pay. Most workers indicated that they worked more than 50 hours weekly under extreme heat and with no overtime reimbursement. Many children also get into accidents due to risky working environments, including machinery and dangerous tools. Although tobacco companies do not legally sell tobacco products to children, they are profiting from their engagement in child labor in various ways. Children will be protected from working under hazardous conditions by banning tobacco production.
Effects of Smoking Tobacco
Ever since the hazardous report on tobacco smoking was aired, which is more than 50 years ago, the rates of smoking in the United States have decreased drastically from 43 percent to around 18 percent (“What’s the State of Smoking in America” 1). However, it beats logic that it is still legitimate to grow and process tobacco in the U.S. as well as in various parts of the world, even after acquiring rich information on the short-term and long-term health implications of smoking tobacco.
Long-Term Effects of Smoking Tobacco. The effects of smoking tobacco are wide and diverse, ranging from stroke and coronary heart disease to cancers of the lungs, larynx, bladder, and esophagus (Golden 58). In recent research, it was found that tobacco smoke has over 40 chemicals that can bring about cancers in both animals and human beings. In addition, the dangerous effect of smoking does not end up contributing to the onset of various diseases. Women who smoke are also at risk, with studies showing that they are more likely to endanger the fetus during pregnancy (Golden 65). Some adverse birth repercussions include low birth weight and abnormal growth, among other health disorders. Imposing a ban on tobacco products is a fundamental initiative for a healthy United States society.
Short-Term Effects of Smoking Tobacco. Although individuals know the long-term health implications of smoking tobacco, various short-term effects are not documented. There are several serious damages resulting from smoking tobacco that comes much sooner. These include the damage to the brain’s normal functionalities and effects on the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and immune, as well as the metabolic systems (Dagher et al. 48). Important to note is that although the short-term health consequences of smoking are not immediately noticed, most of the consequences start damaging the body as soon as one smokes the first cigarette. At times, the effects are irreversible.
Immediate Impact on the Brain Cardiovascular System. Disagreeing with the widely spread belief that smoking helps individuals relieve stress, it has been shown that people who smoke have higher stress levels than those who do not smoke. The relaxed feeling they experience immediately after smoking is just a return to the normal state free from the stress that individuals who do not smoke experience all the time. In addition, smoking tobacco alters normal brain chemistry. Studies have shown that smoking alters the brain’s harmony by reducing the dopamine hormone, which causes a strong craving, leading to addiction. Additionally, smoking tobacco has been shown to increase heart rates and blood pressure (Dagher et al. 51). Consumption of tobacco products is also blamed on increasing a resting heart rate in a period between 30 minutes to one hour after smoking. Hence, as the consumption of nicotine persists, the higher heart rate since the heart of a smoker works harder as compared to that of a non-smoker. In essence, these among other health concerns, are reasons tobacco products should be banned in the United States.
Whether to ban tobacco production has raised heated debates throughout the United States. Some people argue that smoking should not be banned as it gives smokers a feeling of relaxation. They also indicate that banning tobacco production will lead to increased illegal activities and downfall of the U.S. economy. However, the discussion revealed that tobacco production in the United States should be banned not only due to the increase in morbidity and mortality attributable to it but also because it alters the normal functionalities of the human body and enhances pollution. Although some of the adverse health consequences of smoking are wholly or partially reversed upon cessation of the learned behavior, some damage cannot be reversed.
“Economic Facts About U.S. Tobacco Production and Use.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 July 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/economics/econ_facts/ Accessed on 27 October 2016
Dagher, A, et al., “Reduced Dopamine D1 Receptor Binding in the Ventral Striatum of Cigarette Smokers,” Synapse 42 (1):48-53.
FDA Regulation of Tobacco: An Interview with Dr. Allan Brandt on FDA Regulations. Perf. Dr. Allan Brandt and Terry Schraeder, MD. Massachusetts Medical Society, 2008. Youtube.com/Interview with Dr. Allan Brandt. NEJMvideo, 21 Dec. 2009. https://youtu.be/T8eUIm-0QsI?list=PL1dKmbyufEbc9FsmMFdTiCmBt2UYG07FG Accessed on 27 October 2016
Golden, Robert N. The Truth About Smoking. Facts On File, 2009.
Greene, Bob. “Why Cigarettes Are Here to Stay.” Article from News Contributor. CNN.com. 7 Oct. 16. http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/24/opinion/greene-cigarettes/ Accessed on 27 October 2016
Made in the USA: Child Labor & Tobacco. Dir. Veronica Matushaj. Perf. Jo Becker. Youtube.com/MADE IN THE USA: Child Labor & Tobacco. HumanRightsWatch, 13 May 2014. https://youtu.be/0-8TBceaO5Q?list=PL1dKmbyufEbc9FsmMFdTiCmBt2UYG07FG Accessed on 27 October 2016
Russell, MA, “The Nicotine Addiction Trap: A 40 Year Sentence for Four Cigarettes,” British Journal of Addiction 85(2):293-300.
What’s the State of Smoking in America? Perf. United States Surgeon General Boris Lushniak. Youtube.com/What’s the State of Smoking in America? PBS NewsHour, 12 Jan. 2014.https://youtu.be/NBsA9vxEC9Y?list=PL1dKmbyufEbc9FsmMFdTiCmBt2UYG07FG Accessed on 27 October 2016.
Saad, Lydia. “US Smoking Rates Still Coming Down”. Gallup.com. 2008. http://www.gallup.com/poll/109048/us-smoking-rate-still-coming-down.aspx Accessed on 27 October 2016.