Friday, May 24, 2013
Tobacco use Introduction Tobacco use is one of the most controversial issues in America today. This paper examines the history of tobacco use in the US. The paper also discusses why this is a controversial issue. Advantages and the disadvantages of tobacco are also discussed and the conclusion examines the role of the leaders in solving the problem of tobacco use. History of tobacco use in America The use of tobacco has shifted from being a ritual activity to being used for recreational and commercial purposes (Giovino, 2002). The recorded history of tobacco use can be traced many centuries back before the coming of Christ. Some scholars have noticed use of tobacco in shamanistic rituals which is dated as early as 5000 BC (Glantz, 1993). The use of tobacco also seems to have existed even before the coming of the Europeans among the Mayan Indians who made carved drawings indicating tobacco use in the caves which served as their homes years dated to be between 600 and 900 AD (Nilsson, 1996). Just like in shamanism, tobacco was used by the Mayans for religious purposes. It is the arrival of the Europeans in America in the 16th century that catapulted the cultivation and consumption of tobacco among the Americans (Glantz, 1993) and it became a cardinal trading commodity when it was later introduced in Europe. Tobacco was cultivated in large scale to help quench the high demand both in America and Europe (Warner, 2000). Large scale cultivation was made possible by modernization in farming which involved the use of farm machines rather than human labor. Since tobacco was the first cash crop to be introduced in North America, many white settlers who had come in America purposely for economic reasons became tobacco farmers. The reconstruction era came with the production of cigarettes which further increased the rates of consumption of tobacco (Warner, 2000). Washington duke was the first to make cigarettes for commercial use in 1865. His 300-acre farm in North Carolina helped him make fortunes from the cigarettes business (Tomar, 2003). His was hand-made cigarettes and he sold them to the soldiers during the civil war. However it was the invention of the cigarette-making machine by James Bonsack in 1881 that led to widespread use of cigarettes in America. The machine had the capacity of making 120,000 rolls which helped greatly in serving the increasing number of tobacco users in America (Warner, 2000). Prior to the World War II cigarettes were predominantly smoked by men and mostly soldiers (Glantz, 1993). The World War II brought more independence to women and they could go out and work. This exposure made some women who interacted with men who were cigarette smokers to start smoking (Tomar, 2003). Many of these women were those women whose men had gone to war. The soldiers overseas were served with free cigarettes and this called for more production at home, the cigarette making companies benefitted greatly (Warner, 2000). It is estimated that in the early 1940s the production of cigarette was more than 300 billion rolls per year. Problems associated with tobacco use Since the development of use of tobacco for recreational purposes, many people have criticized it. For example, in 1964 the Surgeon General of the US who was the chief country doctor published a report that indicated that cigarette smoking is dangerous (Nilsson, 1996). In the report, he argued that the nicotine which is the cardinal substance in tobacco and tar from the smoke cause lung cancer. In Europe, the low life expectancy among cigarette smokers was also a matter of great concern at this time. Following the report by the Surgeon General of the US, the Congress passed a law that stipulated that every cigarette pack should have a label indicating that cigarettes may be hazardous to the smokers’ health (Shopland, 1995). This law was passed in 1965 barely a year after the Surgeon General of the US had released his report on cigarette smoking. The ‘tar wars’ of 1980s between the cigarette manufacturing companies came as a response to the Surgeon General’s report (Nilsson, 1996). The companies were competing in reducing the amount of tar and nicotine in their cigarettes. The companies also made some improvements in their filters to minimize the intake of nicotine and tar by the smokers. These companies were not however interested in safeguarding the health of their customers but rather at reducing fear among the buyers of their products (Giovino, 2002). Nevertheless, the ‘tar wars’ brought an advantage to the smokers. Since the America’s Surgeon General report of 1964, many researches have been made to find out the negative effects of cigarette smoking (Giovino, 2002). Studies have shown that cigarette smoking does not only lead to lung cancer but also other types of cancer including cervix cancer, cancer of the stomach, acute myeloid leukemia, bladder cancer, cancer of the esophagus, kidney cancer, cancer of the larynx otherwise known as the cancer of voice box, cancer of the mouth or oral cavity, pancreatic cancer as well as throat cancer commonly known as the cancer of the pharynx (Shopland, 1995). Nevertheless, lung cancer is the commonest cause of death resulting from cigarette smoking. In fact, 90% of all cancer related deaths and 80% of cancer related deaths among women in the US are attributed to cigarette smoking (Tomar, 2003). Cigarette smoking also leads to other serious diseases such as stroke and cardiovascular complications (Shopland, 1995). Coronary heart disease which is currently the leading cause of death in America is among the worst cardiovascular complications that are caused by cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking leads to blockage and narrowing of the blood vessels (Giovino, 2002) which reduces the flow of blood from the heart to other vessels of the body which can lead to death of the vessels deprived of blood leading to a hotchpotch of health complications. For an expectant mother who uses cigarettes during her pregnancy there is a high risk of low birth weight for the unborn child, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), preterm delivery and stillbirth (Shopland, 1995). Reproductively, both men and women are negatively affected by cigarette smoking as it leads to infertility. Cigarette smoking can as well lead to sexual incapacitation in both women and women (Giovino, 2002). Recent studies show that women who smoke cigarettes may experience postmenopausal problems of the bones since smoking reduces the density of their bones. The decreased density of bones has been said to be the main cause of the hip fracture among women who smoke cigarettes. The centre for disease control (CDC) estimates that 443,000 deaths in America are associated with cigarette smoking (Tomar, 2003). This simply means that smoking contributes to one of every five deaths in the US (Giovino, 2002). Although some people have argued that there is no direct correlation between cigarette smoking and death, many of the diseases that lead to demise of cigarette smokers come as a result of cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking also acts as a catalyst of some serious diseases which cause death (Shopland, 1995). A search for solutions Comparatively, cigarette smoking related deaths are said to outdo deaths caused by HIV/AIDS, alcohol and drug abuse, road accidents, suicides and homicides (Nilsson, 1996). This shows that cigarette smoking silently kills more people than some of the most feared diseases and accidents. The government seems to have seen this and different laws have been put in place to either deter people from smoking or reduce the rate of smoking (Tomar, 2003). The first action to end the problems associated with cigarette smoking was through the introduction of warning labels (Shopland, 1995) in all the packs of the cigarettes that were manufactured. This was in 1965. There followed another law that was passed by the Congress in 1971 and this law prohibited the advertisement of tobacco products in the radio and the television (Nilsson, 1996). Since 1980s when it was scientifically proven that cigarette smoking has negative implications on health, federal, state, local governments, and private companies have been taking actions to inform people about the negative effects associated with cigarette smoking (Nilsson, 1996). Also, there are programs which have developed to rehabilitate and treat those people who are addicted and affected in one way or the other (Shopland, 1995). Research has also shown that the second-smoker is affected more than the smoker and this has led to development of laws restricting cigarette smoking in public places. In 1990, smoking was illegalized in public airlines. Taxes on cigarettes have also been increased to increase the economic burden of purchasing cigarettes aimed at reducing the users of tobacco (Tomar, 2003). Importance of tobacco Despite the negative health implications associated with cigarette smoking and the many laws that have been put in place to reduce the number of tobacco users, new people are recruited in the culture of cigarette use each day. Many scholars argue that cigarette smoking cannot be completely eliminated in America as long as the crop is grown in the country (Shopland, 1995). Despite the negative effects of tobacco use which are known by many who engage in the use, the presence of tobacco farming will make people smoke some out of curiosity and others for fun (Nilsson, 1996). Tobacco farmers gain a lot from the plant and this cannot be ignored (Nilsson, 1996). Banning of tobacco farming will immensely affect these farmers and the economy of the country negatively. Given that tobacco farming is the only source of income for some families, banning tobacco farming will reduce the farmers and members of their families to paupers. The government on the other hand collects billions of dollars as taxation on the sale of tobacco products (Warner, 2000) and banning tobacco in America will be committing an economic suicide. Also, tobacco is used to make other products such as pesticides (Glantz, 1993) and tobacco farming cannot be prohibited for the single reason that it is used to manufacture cigarettes. For instance, tobacco contains the neurotoxin named alkaloid nicotine which is a chemical component used in manufacture of a myriad of insecticides (Warner, 2000). These pesticides are used by farmers in the eradication of pests and thus making tobacco important for these farmers and the consumers of farm products which means that tobacco benefits each and every person in one way or the other. Current studies have found that tobacco can be useful in health and that it can be used in treatment of persons suffering from heart attacks and even stroke (Nilsson, 1996). The by product of cigarette smoking is carbon dioxide which scientists say that is toxic if it is consumed in large quantities. On the other hand, scientists have argued that intake of carbon dioxide in low doses can help in preventing the blood from clotting thus preventing heart attack and stroke which are caused by blood clots (Glantz, 1993). Conclusion The benefits accrued to tobacco farming and use cannot be compared to its negative effects. Many politicians have used this platform to champion for laws that prohibit tobacco use. They say that protection of human life should be the cardinal mandate of the country and its leaders. This argument has won acceptance as we have seen many laws being made to minimize the effects of tobacco use particularly in America. With more acceptance of this thinking, the dream of tobacco free world can be realized and without it, this dream will remain to be a dream never to be realized. References Giovino, G. A. (2002). Epidemiology of tobacco use in the United States. Oncogene , 7326-7340. Glantz, S. A. (1993). Changes in cigarette consumption, prices, and tobacco industry revenues associated with California's proposition 99. Tobacco Control . Nilsson, R. (1996). Environmental tobacco smoke and lung cancer: a reappraisal. Ecotoxicology and environmental safety , 2-17. Shopland, D. R. (1995). Tobacco use and its contribution to early cancer mortality with a special emphasis on cigarette smoking. Environmental health perspectives . Tomar, S. L. (2003). Trends and patterns of tobacco use in the United States. The American journal of the medical sciences , 248-254. Warner, K. E. (2000). The economics of tobacco: myths and realities. Tobacco control , 78-89.
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