Outlaw Smoking Now!

Kim’s recent post about smoking reminds me that I have an anti-smoking rant that I’ve been meaning to post about for a while now.

I have two questions.  Why does anyone smoke, and why is smoking legal?

The only reason that anyone smokes is because they were tricked into it when they were young and stupid, and now they are addicted.  Virtually no one starts smoking after their late teens/early twenties.  Cigarette companies know this, so they deliberately target their advertising at young people.  Who really thinks that Joe Camel or the Marlboro Man are cool, other than kids?

(Of course, some adults who smoke will claim they do it because they like it, not because they are addicted; but for the purposes of this discussion we will consider such blatant lying to be invalid evidence.)

This is an unfair and frankly predatory practice.  It’s unfair because everyone is young and stupid for a while; it’s evil to take advantage of people in that state.  And it’s predatory because their product hooks into you and kills you.

This brings us to question #2: why is smoking legal?  Why are the cigarette companies allowed to exist, to continue to make billions of dollars, and to prey on children?  The only reason is that the companies are already rich, and therefore are able to influence politicians in ways that are favorable to the cigarette companies.

It bothers me that smoking is legal not only because it’s freaking nasty and it kills tens hundreds of thousands of people annually, but also because as public policy it’s so glaringly inconsistent.  If drugs like heroin are illegal because they ruin people’s lives by causing them to be severely addicted and/or killing them, then smoking should be illegal for the exact same reasons.  The only difference is that there is a powerful political force in support of cigarettes, while there is no such support for the other currently-illegal drugs.

Posted by Anthony on 6 replies

Comments:

01. Jan 14, 2006 at 07:29pm by Nathan:

so, what do you think about pipe and cigar smoking? Are those smoked out of enjoyment, or because they are addicting? From personal experience I can tell you that there are some people who enjoy tobacco in moderation, and do not let themselves become addicted. It is comparable to alcohol. Alcohol can be easily abused, and there is massive evidence to prove that. %40 of car related accidents involve alcohol. And then there are the numerous help programs out there to aid alcoholics who are destroying their health, their families, and their lives. So should alcohol be banned? I don’t know if you drink, but if you do then you can imagine how sucky it would be if the government outlawed alcohol(again), and took something very enjoyable away from countless people who don’t abuse it. I think the same applies to tobacco in general(yes, even cigarettes). I am a Christian and I believe that God created the world. Because I believe that  and because I believe that it was created "good" I think that food, alcohol, medicines, tobacco, and everything else God made ought to be used to His glory. You probably have heard of the great Baptist  Charles Spurgeon, and he said that he had a hard enough time keeping 10 commandments, and unless someone could show him where it said, "Thou shalt not smoke", he was not about to add an 11th commandment and he therefore then, that very night, was going to smoke to the glory of God. Now I totally agree with you when you say that Morris’ and Reynolds’ Tobacco companies target youth, and I think that is wrong. I think that addiction to tobacco is wrong. I think that %99 of America’s smokers are sinning. But I do not think that smoking in and of itself is a sin, even when that smoking involves cigarettes. As long as you can faithfully say that you do not depend and rely on anything other than Jesus Christ and His Spirit for help/relief/strength or whatever than you can be sure of what you are enjoying. Obesity is quickly taking over "smoking cancer" as the leading cause of preventable death in America. I would hope the government doesn’t take away cheese, bread, and pepperoni because of their murderous consequences. That might be stretching it, but those 2 fat women were able to sue McDonald’s for a ton of money because "McDonald’s made them fat." I guess what I am trying to say is that the idea of moderation needs to be put forward instead of just taking everything away. Taking everything away doesn’t really address the problem of abuse.
Thanks...

02. Jan 14, 2006 at 10:18pm by Anthony:

So you say:

Quoting Nathan:

From personal experience I can tell you that there are some people who enjoy tobacco in moderation, and do not let themselves become addicted.

But they say:

Quoting The American Heritage Dictionary:

A colorless, poisonous alkaloid, C10H14N2, derived from the tobacco plant and used as an insecticide. It is the substance in tobacco to which smokers can become addicted.  [source]

Quoting The Columbia Encyclopedia:

People who use tobacco products develop a physiological addiction to nicotine. Research has shown that nicotine increases the flow of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, creating pleasurable feelings and a craving to keep in the bloodstream levels of nicotine that will maintain these feelings. Lack of nicotine causes withdrawal symptoms (heart rate and blood pressure changes, sleeping problems, brain wave disturbances, and anxiety) in smokers.  [source]

Quoting Wikipedia:

A report released on May 16, 1988 by United States Surgeon General C. Everett Koop stated that the addictive properties of nicotine are similar to those of heroin and cocaine ... In addition, nicotine increases dopamine levels in the reward circuits of the brain ... In this way, it generates feelings of pleasure. This reaction is similar to that caused by cocaine and heroin, and is another reason people keep smoking: to sustain high dopamine levels.  [source]

Quoting The National Institute of Health:

Recent research has shown in fine detail how nicotine acts on the brain to produce a number of behavioral effects. Of primary importance to its addictive nature are findings that nicotine activates the brain circuitry that regulates feelings of pleasure, the so-called reward pathways. A key brain chemical involved in mediating the desire to consume drugs is the neurotransmitter dopamine, and research has shown that nicotine increases the levels of dopamine in the reward circuits. Nicotine’s pharmacokinetic properties have been found also to enhance its abuse potential. Cigarette smoking produces a rapid distribution of nicotine to the brain, with drug levels peaking within 10 seconds of inhalation. The acute effects of nicotine dissipate in a few minutes, causing the smoker to continue dosing frequently throughout the day to maintain the drug’s pleasurable effects and prevent withdrawal.  [source]

I’m inclined to believe the dictionary, encyclopedia, and National Institute of Health over you.

All the evidence that there is, aside from smokers who are in denial, says that nicotine is addictive.  It’s not comparable to alcohol, which people can drink once a month and not experience withdrawal symptoms.  It’s comparable to cocaine and heroin, which users can’t go without for a day or two without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

03. Jan 16, 2006 at 10:13am by Nathan:

well, I wish I could let you meet these people. They have no problems with "withdrawal". They don’t have emotional qualms when they don’t smoke for a day, a week, a month. When some of them went off to college and had to sign a waiver saying they wouldn’t smoke for the 4 year period they went there, that wasn’t a problem. I can’t see the comparison to cocaine or heroin, when those are specifically taken for their "high" effects. Those drugs seem way off the charts when compared with tobacco, and I can in no way see justifying the use of drugs, because their sole purpose is to make the user high. I don’t see tobacco in that group. I personally do not smoke tobacco for the high, which it never gives.

04. Jan 16, 2006 at 11:20am by Anthony:

Quoting Nathan:

I canít see the comparison to cocaine or heroin, when those are specifically taken for their "high" effects. Those drugs seem way off the charts when compared with tobacco, and I can in no way see justifying the use of drugs, because their sole purpose is to make the user high. I donít see tobacco in that group. I personally do not smoke tobacco for the high, which it never gives.

You do it because you enjoy it, right, as you said before?  The clinical fact is that it affects chemicals in your brain in a way that results in pleasurable feelings for you, i.e. enjoyment.  It makes no difference whether you call it "getting high" or anything else.

05. Jan 16, 2006 at 01:12pm by kim:

Smoking is in no way as benign as you make it sound. It doesn’t necessarily take chronic exposure to a carcinogen to cause cancer. Smoking tobacco is related to lung, pancreatic, larynx, bladder, and many other cancers. According to a report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) tobacco contains more than 60 cancer-causing chemicals. It’s absurd to compare something like smoking tobacco (known only for it’s adverse effects) to eating (which we obviously need to subsist) just because some people over-eat. Furthermore, over-eating doesn’t harm other people. Second-hand smoke, on the other hand, is extremely dangerous. "Annually, exposure to secondhand smoke (or environmental tobacco smoke) causes an estimated 3,000 deaths from lung cancer among American adults. Scientific studies also link secondhand smoke with heart disease" (from "Cigarette Smoking-Related Mortality" on the CDC website). If second hand smoke is so toxic, imagine how much more having the occasional cigarette can harm you.

Anthony’s comparison of smoking tobacco to taking other drugs isn’t too far off base. "Nicotine is a poisonous alkaloid found in tobacco smoke, and is the substance to which many smokers are addicted." (Other well-known alkaloids are cocaine, morphine and strychnine). (Derived from an article by The Narcotic Educational Foundation of America).

Smoking tobacco effects every system in your body, whether you realize it or not. Nicotine has been shown to constrict blood vessels, raise the pulse rate, and increase the risk of heart disease, bronchitis, and emphysema. Smoking tobacco consists of Carbon Monoxide (a deadly poison) and particulate substances that collectively are known as tar. Low level exposure to carbon monoxide can cause permanent organ and brain damage (due to restricted oxygen flow to the brain). Many cigarettes also contain DDT (banned by the EPA for numerous reasons, one of which was adverse effects on the environment), formaldehyde, and arsenic. At my first laboratory job, I performed research that involved separating red blood cells from blood plasma. I could tell right away if someone smoked, because their plasma was markedly cloudy. I’m not sure exactly what the cause of that is, but I found it to be extremely disturbing.

Quoting Nathan:
Because I believe that and because I believe that it was created "good" I think that food, alcohol, medicines, tobacco, and everything else God made ought to be used to His glory.

There are many examples of things that God created that we cannot eat/drink/smoke, because they are bad for us; poisonous berries are a perfect example. Just because they are there, doesn’t mean we should poison ourselves (and something that contains carbon monoxide, arsenic, formaldehyde, and tar is definitely classified as poison).

The deleterious effects of smoking tobacco have been proven and published time and time again. Smokers, please stop poisoning yourselves and your loved ones! Quit smoking. Here are some tips from the CDC to help.

06. Nov 3, 2006 at 03:17pm by eric:

I was smoking 2 1/2 packs a day for 25+ years, and I loved to smoke. I use to say it was the only thing I did to reward myself.
I quit cold turkey two years ago. Because of my grandson who lives with me. He’s five now. I could no longer hide my smoking from him. I quit so I could tell him,,,Kobe, If you smoke it will kill you. It’s bad for you, that’s why PaPa doesn’t smoke.

My love for my grandson is why I stopped.
It’s up to me to set the example.

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