Smoking Research Paper
Although being long the smoking problem was never considered to be a social problem until the recent times, what lead to it is that the health problems in the population that are caused by tobacco smoking are nowadays closely correlated to the problems that sociology as a science deals with.
As sociology is a science that deals closely with the human behavior, it is vital to distinguish what the reasons for people are to take up smoking. The reasons can be different, at the early age, young people start to smoke because they want to look mature, to fit in with their peers, and to experiment something that is forbidden, it is very exciting for young children to get cigarettes and sneak away to smoke without being caught.
Adults tend to smoke for other reasons. For them smoking a cigarette is the way to feel relaxed and escape from their daily life full of economical, working, marriage problems, smoking gives them energy when they are going through rough times. Some adults also want to reduce or maintain their weights, because it has been proven by the scientists that smoking lessens the appetite, and finally there are just people who think that cigarettes taste good, that they make them feel better about themselves or/and they just enjoy the process of inhaling and letting out the smoke.
Advertising techniques are also one of the main reasons that people begin to smoke. Cigarette companies claim that they do not target young kids, however that is really untrue. What one usually sees on a billboard is for example a figure like Joe Camel who children are familiar with and it must be said that in the first couple of years that Joe Camel appeared on a billboard in Canada the smokers under 18 raised from 1% to as much as 30%.
“It’s easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it hundreds of times,” – most of us heard this quote of Mark Twain. The outstanding writer put all his irony and humor in this saying. Indeed, smoking is so hard to quit that it became a true whip of our society. The addiction of a smoker to tobacco may be compared to drug addiction, and the consequences of this terrible habit may vary from bronchitis to lung cancer. However, danger for smokers’ health is only one aspect of smoking. There exists another side of this medal that is far more serious to some extent. Besides putting his own health and life to great risk, the smoker subjects people around him to almost the same danger! As smoking affects the environment around smoker, anybody may be exposed to this harmful action and its after effects during so-called passive smoking.
Therefore, smoking is not only the individual problem of smoker, but also a problem of non-smokers around him, as well as an environmental problem of air pollution. Thus, smoking became the acute challenge of contemporary society. It was only natural when the discussion on prohibiting smoking in public settings was started. Ban on smoking in public settings may solve the problem, protecting people from secondhand smoking and environment form pollution. Let us look at the main reasons for accepting this regulation.
There is no need to describe the harmful effect of nicotine on the smoker at the moment. Multiple scientific researches in this area proved the high level of risk for health and subsequently for life of cigarette smokers. We face the reports on potential hazard of smoking every minute everywhere. Therefore, I can make a conclusion that smokers are aware of risks related to smoking cigarettes. Hence, every smoker makes his own choice between smoking and non-smoking while starting this habit, accepting responsibility for his health. Only about 30% of direct smokers want to quit. From the other smokers’ viewpoint the problem does not look too terrible. “Yes, it is my choice, and it is my life, so please respect my privacy and my right to do what I chose to do,” – this is what 70% of smokers may say. Indeed, sounds fair enough. Despite the public awareness of smoking hazard, smokers should have a right to smoke. However, is it as simple as it sounds? What if smokers would be allowed to smoke in any place on earth?
Actually, it is hard to imagine the state of health of many non-smokers if we were exposed to constant involuntary smoking. It is due to awful effects of environmental tobacco smoke, that were first documented by the National Academy of Sciences in 1986 (American Heart Association [AHA], 2007, para. 2).
Environmental tobacco smoke contains nicotine, the drug that is very dangerous for human health. Moreover, smoke consists of more that four thousand of harmful chemicals, including over forty carcinogens. The combination of these substances leads to a great number of diseases. Increased heart rate and blood pressure, nausea, and headache are the least of them (AHA, 2007, para. 6). Blood clotting increase, cardiovascular diseases, heart attack, pneumonia, asthma, lung infections and lung cancer, – these are only few of risks caused by exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. The problem looks even more serious considering following fact – involuntary secondhand smoke affects around 126 million non-smokers in the USA only (Associated Press [AP], 2006, para.2)! The number impresses, especially in contrast to the total number of smokers in the country that equals as for the US Department of Health around 68 million. This statistic data mean that the total number of people exposed to risk from tobacco smoking is around 194 million (with only 35% of them directly smoking, and the rest 65% being secondhand smokers). These enormous numbers present to my mind enough reason to ban smoking in public places. The situation looks even worse considering that children are prone to much wider range of illnesses caused by ETS (AP, 2006, para. 4). Exempting non-smokers from being exposed to environmental tobacco smoking will decrease the risks for human health around three times. Besides, it will affect soundly the air quality, as the pollution in indoor public places will be decreased. Finally, such incentive may positively influence smokers by encouraging them to quit sooner.
Many cities and even states in the world already accepted bans on smoking in public places. The best example is Bhutan – until now it is the only country to have banned smoking in general and selling cigarettes (Freedom Organization for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco [FOREST], 2006, para. 37). The first country to have banned smoking in workplaces in 2004 was Ireland. European countries supported this tendency – in particular, the Great Britain, Italy, Germany, and Spain. However, the pioneer in this incentive is the state of California in the USA – this state enacted ban on smoking in workplaces in 1994 and extended it to ban in enclosed spaces in 1997, setting an outstanding example to other states. (FOREST, 2006, para. 34). Twelve other US states accepted this policy, including New York City. Besides, some towns in California are considered perfect non-smoking areas (like Calabasas). It is very useful to look at their experience in order to indicate positive changes. For example, one of the USA city’s hospitals reported decrease in heart attacks in 27%. Another research among bar staff showed the 50% decrease in symptoms of passive smoking, such as lung and cardiovascular diseases (Wikipedia, 2007, para. 1, 2). The effects on health are obviously significant in every area that accepted ban for smoking in public. This positive practice wins more and more followers, and many countries already plan to enact smoking bans in workplaces or public settings.
In the report presented by Professor Konrad Jamrozik of Imperial College of London we see the results that secondhand smoke at the work places is the reason of about 617 deaths every year in the UK, whereas the total number of deaths because of industrial accidents is around 235 annually. Certainly at most risk are put people working at the places where the smoke is produced constantly, like for example in bars or at casino.
There is even an opinion that if to ban smoking at the work place that could really stimulate a person to quit smoking completely. In the report by Derek Wanless done for the UK Government on public health was stated that “A number of other countries have now implemented a workplace smoking ban via legislation. Some of this experience has been shown to be successful in reducing the prevalence of smoking”.
In November 2004, a White Paper on public health was published by the government; the idea of the paper was to stop smoking at most work places and public places. This is certainly one of the correct steps. But the other problem is that this Paper doesn’t count for some private bars and for those where food is not served, but there are also people working there and they are put at the same risk as at other bars and clubs. The UK Ministers are considering the possibility of this new legislation by the years 2007-2008 to come in power. Certainly the owners of the clubs state that banning smoking at bars could decrease the number of visitors and thus make them loose money in their business, but if to make this ban not complete, but at least to separate the rooms for smokers and non-smokers or provide some special room for smoking separately from the main hall, the result could be quite positive, as this bar or club could attract both smokers and non-smokers and nobody would be actually deprived of his rights.
The idea to end smoking at work and public places is also supported by people, as more and more of them become aware of the possible dangers of secondhand smoking and they demand more and more smoke-free public places.
The supporters of tobacco industry offered the better ventilation systems as a way to solve the problem with passive smoking. But the fact is that even if to set up the best air-ventilation system it is simply able to circulate the air instead of removing the harmful tobacco smoke from the indoor air.
Speaking about such countries as New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, where smoking in public places is prohibited by legislation, it is also often banned to advertise the tobacco products. Legislation system strongly protects people from involuntary smoking in such countries as Norway and Sweden for example. In Canada, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, the US States of California and Minnesota exist effective laws controlling smoking in most public places.
Passive smoking was already mentioned several times in this paper, the term passive smoking means breathing in other people’s tobacco smoke. The certain conclusions of the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health are as follows: secondhand smoking may lead to lung cancer – the risk is about 20-30%.
Secondhand smoking can also cause heart diseases, which is certainly a serious hazard for people.
Talking about children – passive smoking leads to asthma or causes worsening of the condition of those already affected. Also children are at risk of middle-ear infection and sudden infant death syndrome.
Another really vulnerable group are pregnant women, the health of the future child depends on his mother and if she has to breath in smoke constantly, it is clear that the effect will be negative and this will do serious harm to her future child.
“You can do whatever you want unless it disturbs others,” – goes a famous wisdom. Indeed, smokers may kill themselves as long as they do not affect others. Hence, ban on smoking in public becomes a solution for many problems of our society.
It is my belief that the anti-smoking television campaigns have no or little effect on the health of the nation. Furthermore, it may even be harmful for the mental health of the smoker and has little effect on the non-smokers. There are several reasons for this statement.
First of all, most of those commercials contain universal truths that smokes as well as non-smokers know and if those truths could stop someone from smoking then no one would have smoked.
Second, they address the issue form the wrong point. Most of them promote smoking as the “bad habit” that could be dealt with rather simply. However, in practice it is not a habit but an addiction since nicotine is a drug that causes this addiction. Furthermore, even if it was recognized as a drug abuse, the traditional modern medicine has no cure from it.
Third, the budget and the efficiency of those advertising campaigns are incomparable to the millions of dollars tobacco companies put in the promotion of their production. As the result the effect from those campaigns is incomparable as well.
Finally, the consideration about the mental health are to large extend based on researches that prove that the smoking habit is mostly based not on the chemical but on the physiological dependence, so, in fact the anti-smoking advertisement contribute to the strengthening of the opinion that it is hard to quit smoking.
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