TOBACCOCONTROL: WHY CIGARETTES SHOULD BE BURNT
TobaccoControl: Why Cigarettes Should Be Banned
Manypeople consider cigarette as one of the deadliest artifacts to everfeature in the history of civilization. Most high-income countriesare making good progress in cutting down on rates of tobacco smokingand consumption in general. Various methods have been employed andproposed in order to increase the bureaucratic red tape and steepenthe commercial slope of the tobacco business by increasing taxation,banning advertisements on cigarette promotion, running awarenesscampaigns and promotions on tobacco cessation in addition toexpanding smoke-free spaces. However, one move that deservesattention is the local and national legislative enactments regardingthe sale of tobacco products. About fifteen states in the UnitedStates have enacted bans on cigarette sale between 1890 and 1927.1Such laws have been fully within the mandate of the state governmentand the local communities. Not only will such precedents reduce humansuffering in connection with tobacco consumption, but it will alsolead to cutting down tobacco-related costs of health care services,decreased incidences of wildfires due to careless smoking, increasedproductivity at work, reduced wastage of the scarce physicalresources and a small global carbon print. Abolition will also helpto deal with cases of widespread corruption that is characteristic ofthe tobacco industry. All over the world, resourceful tobacco firmsbribe their way out of legislations that cut on tobacco consumption.This essay is an attempt to show why tobacco should be banned, withcareful analysis on the effects of tobacco on our livelihood, ourhealth, our economy and our social realm.
Statisticsshow that every year, about 6 million people die due to cigaretteconsumption. Before it shrinks, this number will continue to growbecause appropriate measures have not been taken to cut down ontobacco consumption. The death of a 100 million people can beconnected to tobacco smoking in the 20thcentury only. Unless we reverse the odds, billions will continue todie. Despite the fact that we can reduce the rates of consumption tozero by 2100, 300 million tobacco-related deaths are still eminentwithin this century.2Scientists have shown the relation between tobacco smoking andcertain types of cancers. Whichever disease it is, tobacco smokingseems to aggravate the clinical presentation. Ranging from certaincarcinomas of the lungs and other organs in the bodies to theteratogenic effects of tobacco consumption, negative effects ofcigarette smoking do not stop. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,diabetes, asthma, anatomical reproductive defects in women,cerebrovascular accidents (strokes), premature deliveries and lowbirth weights have been documented by the Center for Disease Controland Prevention as some of the deadliest tobacco-related clinicalconditions. In the United States alone, 480,000 deaths are due tosmoking annually. This is about 20% of the total number of deaths.Other combined effects of tobacco use include illegal drug use,excessive consumption of alcohol, motor vehicle accidents and healthconcerns that are related to HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).Smoking increases the risk of getting coronary heart diseases andstrokes by about four times. Men are 25 times more likely to developlung cancer due to smoking compared to women’s 25.7. Smokers are12-13 times more likely to develop obstructive diseases of the lungscompared to non-smokers. Smoking can cause cancer almost everywherein the body, including the esophagus, liver, bladder, blood, cervix,stomach, respiratory tree, oropharynx, pancreas and other organs.Conversely, quitting smoking reduces cardiovascular risks sharply.The risk of developing cardiovascular issues can decrease to the samelevel as that of non-smokers after 2-5 years of quitting thehabit.3 Cigarettesare defective commodities, meaning they not only cause harm to theirusers but cause unreasonable damage. They not only kill theirlong-term users, but they also cause strong addiction leaving theusers helpless. The mandate of the Food and Drugs Administration inthe US allows it to offer insight into the regulation of the amountof nicotine in cigarettes to sub-addictive and sub-compensablelevels. From a manufacturing point of view, this is not hard at all.Efforts have been made to develop denicotinized cigarettes from the19thcentury because the nicotine found in cigarettes is soluble in water.In the 1980s, Phillip Morris set up a factory to make the Nextcigarette brand by using supercritical fluid extraction techniques inachieving a 97% decrease in the content of nicotine, a figure thatwould be required for the recommended 0.1% nicotine per cigarette.Currently the value is at 2%, showing the disparity in achieving thegoal.4Another fact that shows that cigarettes are defective products is thefact that they are engineered to have an inhalable smoke. Tobaccosmoke has rarely been inhaled before the 19thcentury because of its harshness and alkaline nature. Theintroduction of flue curing promoted inhalation of cigarette smoke.This technique of heating tobacco leaves during fermentation, whichincluded the preservation of the sugars that are naturally present inunprocessed tobacco leaves ensured that acids are produced when thesugar is burnt, lowering the pH of the smoke. This resulted in aninhalable and less harsh smoke. However, the irony is this mildlydangerous cigarette promoted more health related problems becausethey allowed for drawing in deep the tobacco smoke into the lungs.Currently, the world’s prevalence and incidence of lung cancer thatcan be traced back to tobacco is wholly due to the consumption of lowpH flue-cured tobacco. There is a need for a significant reduction inthe nicotine content per rod. In addition to this, legislationsshould be made to ban the sale of cigarettes below the pH of 8. Thesetwo moves would do more benefit to the public than any legislation inthe history of the tobacco war.5
Anothermain reason to abolish cigarette sale is in the financial burden thatis attached to the industry. This financial burden is felt both inthe private and public treasuries mainly due to costs incurred intreating diseases related to smoking. It does not stop there ascigarette smoking affects labor productivity hence resulting infinancial losses. This has made poor people in less developed partsof the world to be even poorer. The fact that tobacco is a highlyaddictive substance has made its users stick to its consumption nomatter their financial status. The addiction that comes along withtobacco usage gives bad withdrawal effects, leaving the tobacco userhelpless, but in need for more. The health benefits of cutting downon tobacco use include reduced obstetrics and gynecology relatedcosts as the chances of conceiving a child are improved. Smokingcauses fertility issues like impotence and reduced chances ofconception in women. Abortions are more likely to happen among womenwho smoke during pregnancy. Medical interventions to control thisrequire a lot of money. As noted earlier, within five years of notsmoking, the risk of development of cardiovascular disease dropssharply. This saves between $15,000 and $38,000. Research also showsthat an additional $77,000 is saved after ten years due to the riskof developing lung cancer dropping to less than half of that of acontinuing tobacco consumer.6
Thefourth main reason for regulating the tobacco industry andconsumption is the financial power the cigarette industry has.Cigarette firms have used their financial might to corrupt thebureaucratic system in order to enforce legislation and regulationsthat are friendly to their pockets but still harmful to humancivilization. A number of firms have sponsored destructive and decoyresearch activities with their massive resources in order to corruptstatistics and facts that are related to tobacco consumption. Thiscorrupted science has spilled over into the popular media wherecigarette companies pay newspapers and magazines not only to promotetobacco advertisements and favor tobacco sales promotion, but alsopublish these falsified research findings. These news outlets overthe years have been very dependent on tobacco advertisements and therevenue that is involved to the point that they are unwilling topublish critics against cigarette use. The industry has alsocorrupted the information environment of its labor force. PhillipMorris, a while back, paid CIGNA, its insurance provider in order tocensor health information that was sent to corporate employees. Thisensured that these employees were not well aware of the kind ofemployment they were dealing with and its effect on human. Bullyingby tobacco companies, is still seen in the public arena where thesefirms use their resources to exploit and corrupt other countlessinstitutions including the American Law Institute, American MedicalInstitution, and various sporting organizations, a number offirefighting organizations, the US Congress, Hollywood, the USmilitary and even the US presidency.7This can be traced back to 1964 when president Lyndon Johnson refusedto assent a report made by the Sergeant General fearing thealienation of the south which was tobacco friendly. The efforts bythe US navy to go smoke-free were additionally thwarted by cigarettemakers. Congress men who are close to tobacco firms pressured thethwarting of a plan by the US navy in 1986 to achieve their goal of asmoke-free US navy by the year 2000. A law was then passed requiringall ships to allow the sale of cigarettes and smoking. Until 2011,the American submarines have not been smoke-free. The corrupt natureof this industry is endless.8
Thesemuch-spirited efforts by the developed nations have made the tobaccoindustry in recent years to expand their market into the developingnations where most of the population is still ignorant of the effectsof tobacco (Kessler, 2001. n.p). The smaller and tougher markets inthe rich countries have forced the multinational firms to increasetheir intensity in promoting the sale of tobacco in other regionssuch as the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Their effects have beenvery successful considering more than 80% of the estimated 1.3billion smokers come from transitional economies and developingnations, as noted by the WHO.9The tobacco industry is now targeting children, teenagers and women.Advertisements and other product promotion techniques have used theimpressionable nature of this group to promote consumption. Thecompanies have realized that tapping this young market is one of thesurest ways of locking in the market much longer. They believe thatyounger people will take longer to die or even quit, thereforeincreasing their sales likelihood. This shows that the tobaccoindustry lacks both morals and cooperate social responsibility. As anelement of the economy, this industry needs to ensure thesafeguarding of its clientele. However, it does the opposite bygiving falsified information, releasing cooked data and thwartingcampaigns against health-related hazards of smoking. Although some ofthe biggest stakeholders in the cigarette industry have promised tostop working in the tobacco industry if their products are ever foundto cause directly health problems in humans, they are the sameplayers who are frustrating efforts by other good willingorganizations and institutions to reduce tobacco consumption. Theworld can no longer trust various pledges made by the industryplayers such as Geoffrey Bible, the CEO of Phillip Morris back in1997. He pledged under oath that he would shut down his business ifit were ever found that cigarettes cause cancer in Minnesota vPhillip Morris (March 2, 1998).10Obviously, these people know the direct effect of tobacco on lungcancer even though research is yet to prove that tobacco directlycauses cancer. As part of their corporate social responsibility,these people are supposed to promote efforts to ensuring awarenessamong tobacco consumers as opposed to their continued efforts offrustrating institutions that are constantly safeguarding people’shealth.11
Anothersignificant reason for the abolition of cigarette smoking is itsharmful effect on the natural environment. The process of cigarettemanufacturing consumes the scarce available resources. Cultivation,curing, processing, rolling, putting flavor, packaging,transportation, running advertisements and legal actions cause themassive use of scarce resources. Apart from that, harmful effects onthe environment are felt due to massive use of pesticides anddeforestations efforts to provide more room for tobacco plantations.Pesticides that are commonly used in tobacco farming includeChlorpyrifos, Imidacloprid, 1, 3-Dichloropropen, Methyl bromide andAldicarb. Imidacloprid, a relatively new pesticide blocks the centralnervous system of insect causing high toxicity to termites, bees andants. Additionally, this agent can leech into ground water causingunderground water pollution according to the US EnvironmentProtection Agency (EPA). The European commission put a two-year banon the use of this agent as a pesticide on crops that need bees andother pollinators in 2013. Chlorpyrifos (CPF), an organophosphateagent is very toxic to humans. It not only affects the nervous systembut also causes difficulty in breathing and paralysis of respiratorymuscles after high exposure. Aldicarb is an extremely toxic agent,due to be banned in 2018, because of its toxicity that surpasses anyother pesticide used in the UK or the US. 1, 3-Dicholoropropen is asoil fumigant highly toxic to the skin, eyes and respiratory systemand it`s also carcinogenic. Methyl bromide is a greenhouse agentcommonly used in tobacco seedling planting. It is supposed to bephased out this year.12A number of Manhattans of woodlands and savanna grasslands have beenlost in order to obtain charcoal for flue curing. This has not onlyled to deforestation but also massive air pollution and carbondeposition in the atmosphere. Non-trivial greenhouse gases that areare emitted in cigarette manufacturing mainly through the use offossil fuels in transportation and curing. The industry has alsospared little as part of their corporate social responsibility todeal with promoting social awareness among its customers on carelesssmoking. This has led to a number of wild bush fires because ofcareless cigarette butts disposal putting the environment and livesof people at risk. Environmental effects of smoking can also beextended to effects of passive smoking on health. Additionally, somemedical maladies are associated with cigarette manufacturing itself.For instance, China produces about 40% of the world’s cigarettesusing coal to cure the tobacco leaves.13This leaves workers in the tobacco industry at risk of developingconditions such as pneumoconiosis, anthracosis and anthrascoliosis.14Additionally, the tobacco industry has continued its mockery ofefforts by institutions and organizations willing to safeguard humanhealth by funding and giving substantial support to global climatechange anti-crusaders further causing more harm. It is very clearthat cigarette smoking is not sustainable in a world that is doggedwith global warming. It is one of the areas that have been overlookedover the years when its effects spread across a wide range ofsubjects. Environmental legislations are usually less strict indeveloping and emerging economies where the majority of tobacco isproduced. In these areas, farmers lack personal protective gear oradequate training in handling toxic tobacco pesticides. In a studydone in Pakistan in 2010, 30% of the farmers wore shoes, 14% woremasks and only 9% wore gloves when handling pesticides. Most of thesefarmers have mild to moderate pesticide health effects. WHO is stillexpressing concerns about the neuropsychiatric effects on tobaccoworkers after long-term exposure to organophosphates.15
Thelast but most important reason for abolishing tobacco use is the factthat tobacco smokers do not like this habit at all. The key point isthat tobacco smoking is no longer recreational. Tobacco is not arecreational drug therefore, most smokers hate the fact that theysmoke. Most smokers wish that they could quit. This shows howdifferent cigarette smoking is from marijuana or alcohol use.Statistics show that only 10-15% of people who take alcohol end upbeing alcoholics as opposed to the massive 80%-90% of tobacco userswho end up being dependent on smoking. The fact that tobacco is veryaddictive makes long-term users unable to quit easily. However, withsincere efforts of the stakeholders including the government, variousdepartments in the government, non-governmental organizations and thediplomatic world, in general, tobacco use can be reduced.16
Inconclusion, tobacco smoking causes more harm than good. As much ashigh taxation that is currently characteristic of the industry leadsto increased revenues and increased job opportunities, the end effectof tobacco use is hazardous. The effects range from economic tohealth-related, social and even political. The corrupt nature of theindustry is diluting the integrity of our systems. With time, we willhave less confidence in our systems if the corrupt nature of thisindustry is to be condoned. Let us stand up together against harmfuleffects of tobacco.
Actionon Smoking and Health. Tobacco and the Environment. Fact Sheet,2015.
Centersfor Disease Control and Prevention (CDC. Smoking-attributablemortality, years of potential life lost, and productivitylosses–United States, 2000-2004. MMWR. Morbidity and mortalityweekly report, 57(45), 1226, 2008.
Eriksen,Michael, Judith Mackay, and Hana Ross. The tobacco atlas. No. Ed. 4.American Cancer Society, 2013.
Kessler,David. A question of intent: A great American battle with a deadlyindustry. PublicAffairs, 2001.
Kumar,Vinay, Abul K. Abbas, and Jon C. Aster. Robbins basic pathology.Elsevier Health Sciences, 2012.
Proctor,Robert N. "Why ban the sale of cigarettes? The case forabolition." Tobacco control 22, no. Suppl 1 (2013): i27-i30.
Shah,Anup. Tobacco: Global Issues, 2014.
1 Kessler, David. A question of intent: A great American battle with a deadly industry. PublicAffairs, 2001.
2 Proctor, Robert N. "Why ban the sale of cigarettes? The case for abolition." Tobacco control 22, no. Suppl 1 (2013): i27-i30.
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC. Smoking-attributable mortality, years of potential life lost, and productivity losses–United States, 2000-2004. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report, 57(45), 1226, 2008.
4 Proctor, Robert N. "Why ban the sale of cigarettes? The case for abolition." Tobacco control 22, no. Suppl 1 (2013): i27-i30.
5 Kessler, David. A question of intent: A great American battle with a deadly industry. PublicAffairs, 2001.
6 Eriksen, Michael, Judith Mackay, and Hana Ross. The tobacco atlas. No. Ed. 4. American Cancer Society, 2013.
7 Kessler, David. A question of intent: A great American battle with a deadly industry. PublicAffairs, 2001.
8 Proctor, Robert N. "Why ban the sale of cigarettes? The case for abolition." Tobacco control 22, no. Suppl 1 (2013): i27-i30.
9 Shah, Anup. Tobacco: Global Issues, 2014.
10 Kessler, David. A question of intent: A great American battle with a deadly industry. PublicAffairs, 2001.
11 Proctor, Robert N. "Why ban the sale of cigarettes? The case for abolition." Tobacco control 22, no. Suppl 1 (2013): i27-i30.
12 Action on Smoking and Health. Tobacco and the Environment. Fact Sheet, 2015.
13 Proctor, Robert N. "Why ban the sale of cigarettes? The case for abolition." Tobacco control 22, no. Suppl 1 (2013): i27-i30.
14 Kumar, Vinay, Abul K. Abbas, and Jon C. Aster. Robbins basic pathology. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2012.
15 Action on Smoking and Health. Tobacco and the Environment. Fact Sheet, 2015.
16 Proctor, Robert N. "Why ban the sale of cigarettes? The case for abolition." Tobacco control 22, no. Suppl 1 (2013): i27-i30.