Smoking is an art that involves the introduction of a burnt substance into the body. The most commonly smoked substances are tobacco and bhang. Most of the smoked substances are extremely harmful to the body. For instance, research has shown that tobacco contains over 5000 different chemicals (Slama 309). Most of these chemicals are extremely injurious to the human body. Bhang or Cannabis sativa, as it is referred to in scientific circles is not only one of the most addictive diseases, but also extremely harmful to the human body.
Smoking is steadily on the rise especially among the young people, oblivious of the risks health risks that it poses to their bodies. A myriad of researchers have shown that most young people smoke due to peer pressure. They fear alienation from a certain clique of friends, who consider it ‘cool’ to smoke thus succumbing to their influence. The rising number of smokers can also be attributed to exposure to the smokes, especially cigarettes. It has been proven that secondary smokes have a similar effect to the primary smokes. The ease of availability of the smoking substances for instance cigarettes and marijuana has also made people to succumb to the pressure of smoking. The paper will endeavor to advocate against smoking due to the negative effects that it has some of which include addiction, respiratory diseases and even death.
Documented records, world over, trace the origin of smoking to around 5000 years before the coming of Christ. However, the concept of smoking then was not the same as it is in present day. In those days, smoking was undertaken as a recreation activity especially during social gatherings for instance parties and coronations. Some communities in Sub-Saharan Africa induced their bulls with bhang so that they can fight fiercely during the bull fighting activities. This practice is still practiced despite the fierce opposition from animal rights defenders.
Historical records have also pointed to smoking being used as an appeasement tool to the Supreme Being during the offering of sacrifices. This draws parallels with the burnt offerings that existed in the BC years (Winter 40). Other communities, however, viewed smoking as an act of moral decadence and societal defilement. It was considered to be a taboo to smoke in such communities. This perception metamorphosed to present time, considering it is unlawful in smoke tobacco and marijuana in some states. Additionally, the fact that it is illegal in most cities to smoke in public places points to smoking being unacceptable among most people.
Smoking is majorly caused by peer pressure, youthful naivety, an identity crisis and rebellion among the youth. Most smokers are found to have developed the habit while growing up. Stress and idleness has also been found to lead individuals to smoking. Age old traditions and misleading mentorship from elites and celebrities also greatly contribute to smoking tendencies. The effects of smoking are extremely dire. In addition to negatively impacting on the health of the smoker, it also drains them financially. This leads to a state of hopelessness and despondence not only to the smoker but also the people around them. Is smoking really important to the life of an individual? This is the unanswered question that most smokers do not pose to ask themselves as they partake of the smoke that eventually sends most of them six feet under the ground. Given that smoking has been one of the major causes of deaths in the world due to the adverse effects it is associated with and therefore should smoking be banned and classified as an illegal practice?
Definition of terms
Addiction- It is the total dependence on an external factor for the normal functioning of the body. In this case, smoking is found to be extremely addictive and the faculties of the addicts cannot function normally or optimally without smoking the drug that one is hooked on to.
Passive smoking- This is smoking in low volumes and at irregular intervals. Most people who indulge in passive smoking are called social smokers.
Social smoking- It refers to smoking during social gatherings or outings. Most social smokers are not addicts, and smoke due to peer pressure and the ‘cool’ factor that comes along with mob psychology.
Secondary smoking is the involuntary inhalation of smoke. This occurs by virtue of being around an individual who is smoking. Scientific research has, however, shown that secondary smokers usually experience the same effects as primary smokers, especially after long term exposure.
Electronic cigarette is an alternative to tobacco smoking although no tobacco is consumed. The cigarette is powered by a battery that provides inhaled doses of nicotine. This is actualized through a process that involves the production of a vaporized propylene glycol/nicotine or vegetable glycerin/nicotine solution.
French inhale -This is the action performed by smokers of expelling smoke from the mouth and inhaling it into the nostrils.
Kretek-These are cigarettes made with a complex blend of tobacco, cloves and a flavoring agent. It was introduced so that it could it could deliver medicinal eugenol of cloves to the lungs (Sander 146).
Pipe smoking- It consists of a small chamber for combustion of the tobacco to be smoked and a thin stem that ends in the mouth piece. Shredded pieces of tobacco are placed into the chamber and ignited to produce the smoke that is then taken in by the smoker.
Smoking has extremely devastating social, economic and health implications on the smoker and his immediate environment and it should, therefore not be condoned no matter the circumstances. It has been found to be a primary cause of respiratory diseases for instance bronchitis, vascular diseases among others. Scientific research by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2011) has shown that one in every 5 people die of smoking related diseases in the United States. Additionally, the number of deaths brought about by these complications has been found to have tripled over the past decade.
This is attributed to the increasing glorification of the smoking culture in movies and music videos. Most Hollywood movies have been found to depict smoking as being a classy and ‘cool’ thing to undertake. The smoking of cigars has been on the rise chiefly because of the false depiction in movies and music videos that it belongs to individuals occupying the high echelons of the societal strata. Cigar is not only expensive but also contains an extremely high percentage of nicotine. The glorifying of marijuana in Reggae music videos has led to a significant rise in its use in the Caribbean nation of Jamaica and beyond.
In addition to nicotine being the leading cause of most of these respiratory diseases, it also triggers a serious addiction. Addiction has far reaching implications to both the smoker and those around him (Perron 89). It leads to a state of mental and psychological slavery to smoking. This significantly alters the operations of an individual and totally changes their lifestyle and relations with other people. An addict is limited in the type of job that he can do and the employer. Professions like piloting that require a high level of blood sanity are a no go zone for addicts. Additionally, employers who subscribe to certain religious fields cannot employ smokers.
Addiction to smoking also alters the interpersonal and social interactions of individuals. Addicts cannot be free to interact with every member of society due to their strong urge to smoke all the time. The family of the individual is also significantly affected in that they have to put up with his smoking habits. They in turn become secondary smokers and some of them may end up picking the bad habit of smoking. A head of the family will, for instance, have very little moral authority to stop his wife or children from smoking once they pick up the habit.
The economic effects of smoking are also far reaching. Cigarettes, cigar, marijuana and other diseases do not usually come on the cheap. An individual will have to set aside a significant portion of his income to service the urge to smoke. This will end up having budgetary constraints on them considering the numerous financial commitments and obligations that each individual has. The lack of finances to fulfill this urge will in the long run push one into engaging in social ills for instance stealing or drug trafficking. The consequences of this will be a jail term or in some instances death by the hangman’s noose after conviction by the law or mob justice.
Conservative estimates in the United States have placed a figure of $100 billion that is list in productivity per annum, in addition to another approximately $100 billion in medical heath care. These are colossal sums of money that can aid towards making the world a better place should smokers not be in existence. These estimates do not even consider the value of the human life that is claimed by smoking related complications. It extremely devastating considering that this money is lost through a vice that can easily be averted. The burden of this money lost is conveyed to the remaining population in terms of increased taxes and increased cost of health care.
Smoking has been medically established to be one of the leading causes of various types of cancers including cancer of larynx, esophagus, wind pipe, lungs bladder, kidney, pancreas and cervix. Most of these cancers are classified as terminal diseases thereby strengthening the fact that smoking causes death. Cancer is also an extremely expensive disease to treat thereby having significant negative implications on the financial well-being of the patients and their families. The amount of pain that cancer comes along with to the patient ought to be a deterrent to the smokers. The genetic make-up of the cancerous cells allows it to emaciate the body hence causing intense pain to the patient. The cancer treatment which includes chemotherapy and radiotherapy is also very painful and weighs heavily on the patient. The psychological torture and trauma that those close to the patient cannot be overemphasized. The fact that smoking contributes to the increasing cases of cancer patients also contributes to the rise of the health care costs as stated. This is partly because cancer is a specialized disease that requires specialized equipment, staff and care.
Smoking also causes acute nutrient malabsorption in the stomach, small and large intestines. This is because caffeine and nicotine attach themselves to the nutrients, making them unavailable for uptake into the blood stream (Smart 27). This leads to ill health and emaciation of the smoker as the body is robbed of much needed nutrients for its growth and sustainability. Acute malnutrition makes an individual vulnerable to opportunistic infection since it significantly weakens the immune system.
Smoking also increases the possibility of miscarriages, still births, premature birth and giving birth of underweight children of below 2500 grams among expectant mothers. In this regard, it is found to be a leading contributor of the high child mortality rates. Maternal smoking is believed to be the reason for the learning and behavioral problems and this is evidenced among the heavy smokers. Smoking during pregnancy also increases the risks of the child being addicted to smoking if that child starts smoking later on in life. The negative effects of smoking are not only limited to the present generation but also the next generation.
On the flip side, some individuals view smoking as a way or relieving and managing stress. French inhalation to them provides a relaxing feeling, and a sense of closure to any problems that they may be encountering (Pine & Fletcher 47). It helps their minds drift away from the daily routines and takes them to a stress free virtual world albeit temporarily. In as much as this may sound fallacious, it provides them with a sense of relaxation. This sort of recreational smoking is however, dangerous as it may eventually lead one to the path of addiction.
Some smokers are also of the view that smoking provides them with a much needed bout of confidence required in their day to day operations. Even though this cannot be scientifically ascertained, they opine that it helps them steady their nerves when about to per take an unnerving task. This has been associated with some of the great leaders who could not make addresses without having a smoke (Davis 26).
The young smokers also believe that smoking creates a sense of appeal and admiration among their peers. This, according to them makes them to be revered and celebrated in the school or estate set up. For them, being a cult hero is what matters at that stage of development. The fact that smoking is a primary killer does not seem to faze them. This notion may not be essentially true as most of them realize later on in their lives.
From the foregoing, smoking has far reaching social, economic and health implications to an individual. It is a leading cause of a myriad of respiratory diseases and cancers. These diseases not only affect the patients but also the people that are close to them. Additionally, it depletes one economically since smoking is a very expensive venture. The government’s budget is also significantly affected as diseases caused by smoking are extremely costly to treat in terms of resource and manpower. The negative effects of smoking are not only limited to the present but all the future. It is found to contribute to the rising mortality rates, and posing a lifelong problem to infants begot of expectant mothers that smoke. The fact that smoking causes numerous deaths provides no justification for the glorification of the smoking culture that is increasingly taking root in the world today. Death causes a state of despondency and hopelessness to the family members, in addition to robbing the society of progressive individuals.
Stringent measures ought to be undertaken by the government and the World Health Organization to curb this vice. Considering the number of deaths caused directly by smoking tripled over the past decade, a global war ought to be declared against this vice that threatens to wipe out the human race. In as much as cigarette manufacturing companies generate immense profits for the government in form of taxes, their operations ought to be regulated. It should be considered that this revenue is still lost through health care programs to take care of the patients affected by smoking, in addition to the labor force that is wiped out by this menace.