Although smoking is a proven killer, Americans waste hundreds of dollars
each year on tobacco products. Other drugs that are harmful, such as crack or
marijuana, are illegal in the United States. However, the use of cigarettes,
which kills millions worldwide annually, is perfectly legal. If certain harmful
substances are illegal, then cigarettes should not be permitted either.
Smoking has several harmful effects on the body. Cigarettes cause
eighty-five percent of lung cancer and are responsible for thirty percent of all
deaths resulting from cancer. (Bartecchi, 49) People who have smoked for a
significant period of time will have noticeable problems breathing and will most
likely be in poor health. One out of four deaths of people thirty-five to sixty-
four years old result from smoking. On the average, every cigarette takes five
and a half minutes of life away from a smoker. (Bartecchi, 46) Although
restrictions have been placed on the use of cigarettes in public areas such as
restaurants and airplanes, the US has yet to place a ban on smoking. The
government frequently inspects items sold to the American public. Commercial
products that may be dangerous such as food, cars, and toys have been recalled
in order for alterations. In the August 1995 issue of consumer reports, twenty-
four products were recalled because of possible dangers to the consumer. These
products included a car that may lose a wheel while in motion, a hair dryer that
poses a fire hazard, and cookies that can cause an allergic reaction. (Consumer
Reports, 500) Yet, the sale of cigarettes, known to be unsafe, has never been
prohibited by the government. Why are cigarettes any different from other
products sold in the US.
Cigarettes are not only harmful to users, but are also damaging to all
people in the vicinity of a smoker. Second hand smoke from cigarettes is just as
damaging as smoke inhaled by users. Each year, 53,000 people die from the
effects of second hand smoke. A person living with a spouse who smokes has a
thirty percent higher chance of getting lung cancer. (Bartecchi, 49) Parents who
smoke force their children to breathe the fumes every day. Seventeen percent of
lung cancer is attributed to people who grew up with parents who were smokers.
Children of smokers have a lower birth rate and are often less intelligent.
(Bartecchi, 49) People who have chosen to smoke have accepted the unhealthy risk
of the drug. However, nonsmokers have not opted for the hazards involved with
smoking and therefore should not be introduced to these hazards. The government
has chosen not to place a ban on a drug that puts even the nonusers at risk to
health problems. People who do not smoke must always be wary of toxic cigarette
fumes that may be in their presence.
Most people are aware of the health risks involved with smoking. For
this reason cigarette manufacturers have invested much of their advertising
campaign to the most uninformed segment of the population, minors. The average
age to start smoking in the US is fourteen and a half years old. Ads such as the
cartoon character Joe Camel, A camel who rides a motorcycle in the presence of
attractive women, are obvious gimmicks to attract children and teenagers. Before
the appearance of "Joe Camel", Camel cigarettes made six million dollars from
sales to minors. However, just two years after the first appearance of the
cartoon character, sales of Camel cigarettes to minors rose to $476 million. In
a recent study, just as many six year old children recognized "Mickey Mouse" as
"Joe Camel." (Bartecchi, 47-48) Thousands of minors become addicted to
cigarettes every year, posing health problems later in life. The US should not
allow the sale of a product aimed at harming our children.
Cigarettes cause health problems in smokers as well as nonsmokers. They
harm adults as they do youth. Although smoking has only negative effects on the
body, the use of cigarettes is legal while other drugs are banned. Most products
proven dangerous are banned or recalled. Cigarettes should be no different.