Should smokers continue to have the right to smoke? This is a question that has been strongly debated over the last couple of years. Smokers believe that it is there right to smoke. While non-smokers say that smoking is a hazard to everyone s health and it should be restricted. This is a difficult issue because of the strong views of each side. The facts we will examine should help us determine whether or not smoking should be eliminated. Smokers main argument is that it is their right and choice to smoke. They believe that since the Federal Government mandates smoking as legal there choice to smoke is one that should never be taken away. They also feel segregated and oppressed by the new laws that limit when and where they can smoke. They acknowledge the health risks of smoking and many feel that the benefits of smoking out weigh the risks. Most smokers agree that quitting is very difficult if not impossible. Once someone has started smoking it becomes almost a necessity of everyday life. Smokers also believe that tobacco is not a drug since the Food and Drug Administration will not regulate tobacco. Smokers believe that there are a lot of lies about tobacco. Of all the lies hammered home in the war on tobacco, none is more pervasive than the one about the 400,000 deaths attributed to smoking each year. Smokers say that there is no credible evidence that supports this figure. In 1990 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported an estimated 419,000 Americans died because of smoking. A disease was attributed to smoking if the risk from dying from it was greater for smokers than for non-smokers. However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention included in its death toll diseases for which the relative risk to smokers was statistically insignificant. This explains how the numbers could become skewed in the favor of more deaths due to smoking than actually occurred. For instance it is reasonable to claim that a smoker s lung cancer death was smoking related, as a smoker is twenty-three more times likely to die of that disease than a non-smoker, but it is not reasonable to make the same claim for cancer of the pancreas. If you exclude the percentage of those included in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention s calculations you reduce the tobacco related deaths by thirty-nine percent or one hundred and sixty-four thousand. Another statistical trick included in the smoking body count is the failure to correct for other variables. Tobacco use is not the only difference between Americans who smoke and Americans who do not. Smokers also tend to be people who drink too much, exercise too little, eat fewer fruits and vegetables, and have less money. Each of these factors can be a cause of death from a so-called smoking related disease. Again if you constitute for these factors it would significantly reduce the number of deaths related to smoking. However the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the surgeon general treat these factors as irrelevant. Nonsmokers main argument against smoking deals with the health effects for both the smoker and non-smoker. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. It accounts for nearly five hundred thousand deaths per year, or one in every five deaths. Cigarette smoking also contributes to a remarkable number of diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, peripheral vascular disease, peptic ulcer disease, and many more types of cancer. There are also many irreversible health effects attributed with smoking; retardation in the rate of lung development and lung function, seventy-five percent of ex-smokers show changes in DNA suggestive to tumor development, circulatory damage to the heart, brain, and legs, visual impairment and loss, vocal cord growths and hoarseness, bone mineral loss, hip fractures, and spinal arthritis, serious health consequences for children born to smoking mothers, premature facial wrinkling and graying of the skin after as few as five years of smoking. Of the forty-six million smokers in the United States, thirty-four percent try to quit each year, but less than ten percent succeed. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately eighty percent of current adult smokers began smoking before their eighteenth birthday. Each day over three thousand teenagers light up for the first time. Most teens are aware of smoking hazards, but few are worried about them. Worse is that most teen smokers become addicted quickly to nicotine. They say they want to quit but are unable to do so. Teen smokers also experience high relapse rates and debilitating withdrawal symptoms. People who smoke for as brief as ten years show a substantially higher rate of death, disease and disability. Risks to the respiratory system, especially, and risks of cancer will continue to plague the ex-smoker for years even after quitting. Smokers must not kid themselves and believe that they can smoke freely for ten to fifteen years and then is they quit that they have become healthy and risk free as if they had never smoked at all. The bottom line is that smoking is costly, both to individual smokers as well as society as a whole. Long-term studies indicate that about half of all regular cigarette smokers will eventually die from there addiction.Nonsmokers agree that they have the right to not be subject to the deadly effects of secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States. Secondhand smoke kills an estimated fifty-three thousand nonsmokers each year. That means for every eight smokers the tobacco industry kills it takes one nonsmoker with them. Nonsmokers also believe that the tobacco industry had knowledge of the effects of secondhand smoke long before the general population knew about the deadly effects. The tobacco industry has had evidence of the dangers of secondhand smoke for three decades. The tobacco industry considered this knowledge so potentially devastating that it has engaged in a relentless and ruthless series of assaults on the scientific rationale behind more than eight hundred local clean indoor air ordnances in the United States. Not only does this prove that the tobacco makers are corrupt, but there lack of caring for the general well being of the human race.
Nonsmokers argue that smokers do have rights. They have the right to choose to smoke but not the right to smoke anywhere and everywhere they desire. Currently, there are many laws, which prohibit smoking in certain areas such as public and government buildings and airplanes. Although these laws essentially strip smokers of their rights to smoke freely, these laws are necessary to protect the health and well being of the general population of non-smokers. Smokers should not have the right to poison other people s lungs via secondhand smoke, especially those of young vulnerable infants and children. Those smokers who argue that smoking is too hard to give up and feel that without smoking their life would change for the worse hold no ground with the nonsmokers. Most believe that it takes a willingness to want to quit first. Nonsmokers argue that there are proven ways to quit smoking if an individual has a true desire to do so. The programs range from chewing gums to hypnosis and thousands of smokers have used these proven tactics to kick the habit of smoking. The bottom line is that if a smoker is dedicated to quitting the can stop smoking. When I was a young boy my mother was a chain smoker. She could not go a day without smoking two packs of cigarettes. Not only did she smoke, but also she smoked around my sister and I throughout our young childhoods. The worst part about her smoking is when she did it in the car. It was often cold in Wisconsin and we always had the windows rolled up in the car. I can remember feeling trapped in a car full of smoke at a very young age. The smell of smoke began to choke and gag me. Obviously I grew up hating smoking and I have never had a desire to smoke a cigarette myself. Three years ago my mother went to her doctor because her throat was bothering her. Upon examination they found a tumor on her esophagus. Tests revealed that the tumor was benign. I was hoping that this would be a wake up call for my mother to kick her terrible habit and quit smoking. She started off great, but quickly reverted back to her old ways of chain smoking. My grandmother also was a heavy smoker for forty-seven years. Two years ago they found cancer in part of her lungs. They had to do surgery immediately and it was the most trying time of her life. Thankfully they were able to remove the tumor and delay the cancer from spreading. After surgery and recovery she gave up smoking. This decision was one she obviously had to make, however it may have been made too late to have a positive affect on her quality of life. After forty-seven years of smoking she had already damaged many of her vital organs. When I told her I was proud of her and asked her how she felt she said that food did not taste good anymore. Reflecting on the two instances my family went thru due to smoking, there are several typical ideas that stand out. The first is that a lot of smokers are in denial and believe that smoking will not hurt them. The other is that smoking deteriorates so many different parts of one s body. Not only does it cause many incurable diseases but also it can even affect our senses of smell and taste. It is very difficult for me to understand how someone could justify smoking. The risks far outweigh the benefits. I have grown to be very critical of smokers, especially those that choose to smoke around children. I also have some very strong opinions on the topic of smoker s rights. I believe that smokers should have very limited rights. It is true that it is the right of each and every individual to choose whether or not they want to contaminate their bodies and smoke. However, when that decision affects the health and well being of others and myself I do take offense. I do not believe that anyone who chooses to not smoke should ever be put in a situation where his or her lives are put in jeopardy because of the contact of secondhand smoke. I believe that smoking should not be allowed in any public places including restaurants. Why should someone who does not smoke have his or her meals ruined from the secondhand smoke of another individual? Restaurants have tried to solve this problem by designating certain areas of the restaurant smoking and nonsmoking. This still poses a problem for nonsmokers. I can personally smell smoke in the air in any enclosed area. The smoke still lingers in the air and nonsmokers can smell it. If a nonsmoker walks into the bar area again they are subject to secondhand smoke. I believe that it must be eliminated in every restaurant situation. The state of California has already implemented this procedure in certain areas and it has worked well. I believe that we must restrict smoking in order to honor the rights of those who choose not to smoke.I have examined some key arguments in the debate of smokers versus nonsmokers. The facts are pretty simple. Smoking can and will cause damage to your body. Being in contact of secondhand smoke can also cause damage to those who do not smoke. The risks are high for those who smoke and those who are in contact of secondhand smoke. So what are the benefits of smoking? As far as my research goes there are no substantial benefits to smoking. Smoking can only cause harm it can do no good. So why do we have so many smokers? The only relevant answer I can come up with is that they have no respect for their bodies or the bodies of others who are in contact of their secondhand smoke. There is no real way to eliminate smoking, but if we continue to educate people about the deadly affects of this habit we can decrease the number of those who smoke dramatically. That is the best that we can hope for.