On The Matter of Cigarettes: A Toxic Toll People Don’t Have to Pay
It isn’t very pleasant to imagine a sick man or women lying in a bed, coughing and gasping for air; nor is it pleasant to ‘google search’ a photo of a black-lung. People do not often want to think about the consequences of their actions. However, that is what the future may hold for many Americans who are addicted to cigarettes if something is not done to stop the tobacco companies in their tracks. Cigarettes are the number one cause of preventable death in America (Willlis). I know from personal experience just how addicting and harmful this habit can be. I started smoking cigarettes when I was 15, and smoked Newport 100’s, one of the unhealthiest brands of cigarettes available.
For years I didn’t realize just how bad my addiction was, until one day it dawned on me when I was away from my habit for a few days on a vacation. The entire time I was in a horrible state of mind, and was even suffering physical side-effects from being away from my fix for so long. These side-effects including nausea, anger, and lethargy. I quickly realized just how powerful and dangerous a habit I had hooked myself on, and thankfully was able to quit not too long ago. However, this experience made me wonder: What are the negative effects of cigarettes? After all, everything I knew about them was mostly common knowledge. What are the real reasons cigarettes are labeled as such a dangerous and deadly habit? Before beginning my research, I knew that I was going to find out a lot about the negative effects of cigarettes on the body, but I never expected what I learned to be so shocking. After searching through sources through online databases and trustworthy websites, I was able to learn more than I ever honestly wanted to know about the substances I use to breathe in like my life depended on it.
These cancer-sticks claim more than 480,000 lives annually. Not only are they ridiculously expensive, but the cigarettes themselves are stuffed with all sorts of toxins. There are more than 600 ingredients in a single cigarette and when burned produce more than 7,000 chemicals into the air and into the smoker’s lungs. Here are just a few of the chemicals found in a cigarette (Stein):
Acetone – Found in nail polish remover
Cadmium – An active component in battery acid
Arsenic and Tar
Formaldehyde – Embalming Fluid
Methanol – A component used heavily in rocket fuel
When I think about the chemicals in cigarettes, it makes me sick to my stomach. Amazingly, at least 69 of these chemicals is known to cause cancer, and many more are poisonous. Not to mention, there is nothing addictive about any of those substances. The only chemical that really hooks people to smoke is nicotine. This chemical is what drives thousands of Americans to smoke, and is a substance that is more addicting than heroin. Nicotine reaches the brain in just six seconds, and makes the smoker feel calm. However, in large doses nicotine turns from a stimulant to a depressant, and in extreme doses can be lethal, stopping the heart and reducing the flow of blood throughout the body.
As well as cigarettes being such a deadly habit, there is also another factor that people have to consider when smoking. Smoking gives off second-hand smoke, which is an effect of cigarettes that potentially harm everyone around a smoker. Second-hand smoke is even more likely to cause damage than first-hand smoke, because of the smoke directly entering the lungs of surrounding people without a filter. In my opinion, it is not fair for people who have never smoked or want to smoke to be forced to smell or suffer the harmful effects of cigarettes because of someone else’s choice. There is even something known as third-hand smoke which is when someone who lives in the same apartment as a smoker can get cancer from their habit.
Throughout my research, I started to develop a curiosity about an interesting topic. What