Shawnda Pointer--Research Paper _08-34_ by MarijanStefanovic


									 Air-Quality Control

by Shawnda R. Pointer

  English 102-552

    Mr. Kulycky

    12 July 2004
                                                                  Pointer i

                               Air-Quality Control

Thesis Statement: Secondhand smoke is a serious health risk and should be

banned in all public places.

I. Cigarette smoking

      A. Chemical substances contained in tobacco

             1. Nicotine

             2. Other harmful substances

      B. Health effects caused by smoking

             1. Lung Cancer

             2. Emphysema

             3. Other diseases

II. Environmental Tobacco Smoke

      A. Chemical substances contained in secondhand smoke

      B. Health effects to nonsmokers caused by secondhand smoke

             1. Adults

             2. Children

III. Reducing the risks of secondhand smoke

      A. The nonsmoker

      B. The smoker
                                                                    Pointer 1

                            Air-Quality Control

      Smoking is the practice of inhaling tobacco from a pipe, cigar, or

cigarette. Today the most common use of tobacco is cigarette smoking.

Studies have shown that cigarette smoking is the number-one cause of

premature deaths in the United States alone, principally from heart disease,

cancer, and chronic obstructive lung disease, such as emphysema. “Each

year, a staggering 440,000 people die in the US from tobacco use. Nearly 1

of every 5 deaths is related to smoking. Cigarettes kill more Americans than

alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined”

(American Cancer Society). However, despite the astounding number of

preventable deaths and the many complications that arise from smoking, the

tobacco industry continues to remain profitable.

      For years tobacco smoke has been identified as a lethal poison in the

environment. “In 1992, the United States Environmental Protection Agency

classified secondhand smoke as a Group A carcinogen, the category reserved

for the most dangerous cancer-causing substances. Secondhand smoke

contains more than 4,000 chemicals, at least 40 of which are suspected to

cause cancer” (Scheller). Tobacco smoke contaminates the air people

breathe and the environments people live in. Tobacco smoke is harmful to

smokers as well as nonsmokers and should be banned in all public places.
                                                                         Pointer 2

      The smoking of tobacco is a widespread pastime as many people find

the practice to be physically stimulating, stress-relieving, and, by many

adolescent smokers, just plain “cool.” As a smoker’s consumption of

tobacco increases, so will their dependency. This effect is caused by

nicotine, an addictive substance found in the plant’s leaves:

             Nicotine is a powerful pharmacologic agent. [. . .] After

             reaching the blood stream, nicotine enters the brain, interacts

             with specific receptors in brain tissue, and initiates metabolic

             and electrical activity in the brain [. . .] nicotine causes skeletal

             muscle relaxation and has cardiovascular and endocrine (i.e.,

             hormonal) effects. [. . .] Studies have shown that nicotine is the

             agent in tobacco that leads to addiction. (McCuen 45)

Nicotine’s addictive qualities are similar to and often associated with the

addictive properties of heroine and cocaine.

      In addition to nicotine, cigarette smoke also contains such chemicals

as arsenic [poison], ammonia [toilet cleaner], carbon monoxide [car exhaust

fumes], methane [swamp gas], acetone [nail polish remover], and

formaldehyde [used to preserve dead bodies]. Even if tobacco companies

were to remove nicotine from cigarettes and the aforementioned chemical

toxins remained, smoking and secondhand smoke would still be deadly.
                                                                      Pointer 3

      Today, four different warning labels are placed on cigarette packages

and advertisements: (1) smoking by pregnant women may result in fetal

injury, premature birth, and low birth weight; (2) cigarette smoke contains

carbon monoxide; (3) smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease,

emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy; (4) quitting smoking now

greatly reduces serious risks to one’s health. Regrettably, these warning

labels often go unnoticed or are just plain ignored by smokers.

      Even more tragic than a smoker’s presumed desire to self-destruct is

the tobacco industry’s reluctance to inform smokers of the risks they impose

on nonsmokers when they choose to smoke in public places. Because

cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United

States, it is critical that people recognize the dangers of smoking before they

consider taking up the habit. I believe there should be a fifth warning label

on cigarette packages that simply states: smoking in public places increases

the risk to nonsmokers of being exposed to the deadly chemicals contained

in cigarette smoke.

      Of all the diseases casually associated with smoking, lung cancer is

the most well know. Lung cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal

cells in one or both of the lungs and can rapidly spread to other organs of the

body or to the bones. “About 87% of lung cancer deaths are caused by
                                                                      Pointer 4

smoking. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men

and women, and is one of the most difficult cancers to treat” (American

Cancer Society). Cigarette smoking also increases the likelihood of

developing cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, bladder, and

pancreas and of developing leukemia.

      “Cigarette smoking produces acute and chronic myocardial changes

that directly contribute to the development of coronary heart disease and its

associated complications” (Williams and Roleff 21). The development of

emphysema, a condition in which there is over-inflation of structures in the

lungs causing a decrease in respiratory function and often breathlessness, is

also directly related to cigarette smoking. “Cigarette smoke contributes to

this disease process in 2 ways. It destroys lung tissue, which is the cause of

the obstruction, and it causes inflammation and irritation of airways that can

cause the disease to get worse” (“Emphysema”).

      Careless women place their unborn children at risk when they

irresponsibly smoke cigarettes while pregnant. The smoke that a pregnant

woman inhales from a cigarette passes through her blood stream directly to

her unborn child. In essence, “Mom is smoking for two.” This is clearly a

form of child abuse. The dangers of maternal smoking are associated with

miscarriage, premature delivery, and small babies:
                                                                           Pointer 5

             Women who smoke at the time of conception or during

             pregnancy are more likely to have spontaneous abortions and

             pregnancy complications of placenta previa, placental

             abruption, and premature rupture of membranes than

             non-smoking women. [. . .] In utero exposure of the infant to

             active maternal smoking has been associated with deficits in

             lung function, [. . .] wheezing respiratory illness [. . .]

             impairment of somatic growth in childhood [. . .] [and]

             deficits in intelligence and behavior measured on standardized

             tests. (Williams and Roleff 22)

Unfortunately, smokers are not in a protected class of their own. The risks,

dangers, and diseases that are associated with smoking also affect the non-

smoker as well. Cigarettes do not just kill people who smoke. They also kill

people who choose not to smoke.

       Passive or involuntary smoking is a clear and present danger that

increases as one’s exposure to secondhand smoke increases. Secondhand

smoke, also known as ETS [environmental tobacco smoke] is the smoke

breathed out by smokers, and the smoke from the burning end of a cigarette,

cigar, or pipe. Along with being offensive, secondhand smoke can be

                                                                      Pointer 6

             Exposure to ETS, brought about when nonsmokers inhale

             thousands of chemicals during "passive smoking," may kill as

             many as 50,000 Americans annually. It is estimated that about

             35,000 of these deaths are from heart disease, 3,000 from lung

             cancer, and about 12,000 from other cancers. This means that

             "passive smoking" is the third leading cause of premature death

             in the United States, exceeded only by direct smoking and

             alcohol. For example, the ETS cancer mortality alone is higher

             than the total cancer mortality figures from all the other

             environmental hazards regulated by the EPA [Environmental

             Protection Agency] and other government agencies combined!

             These include substances such as all regulated outdoor air

             pollutants, asbestos, benzene, arsenic, radiation, pesticides,

             active and inactive hazardous wastes, all workplace chemicals,

             and all other consumer products. (Smoak)

       Unlike cigarette smoking, where the choice to cause physical harm to

oneself is voluntary, secondhand smoke is not a respecter of persons.

Everyone and everything that secondhand smoke comes into contact with is

at risk:
                                                                     Pointer 7

            Lung cancer isn't the only deadly effect of secondhand smoke.

            The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates 40,000 die

            each year from heart and blood-vessel disease caused by

            secondhand smoke. The risk of heart disease increases by up to

            30 percent among those exposed to secondhand smoke at home

            or at work, according to the AHA. The American Cancer

            Society reports that heart, lung, and other diseases caused by

            secondhand smoke result in 53,000 deaths annually. It is the

            third-leading cause of death in the U.S., after smoking and

            alcohol. (Scheller)

      Sadly, the dangers of secondhand smoke, similar to many other risk

factors, have the greatest impact on children. Today many children are

spending more time in hospital emergency rooms and less time on the

playgrounds and in schools because they suffer from upper respiratory

infections and other debilitating diseases that were caused by the chemical

agents in secondhand smoke. Children are defenseless and the least

deserving recipients of the effects of secondhand smoke:

            The authors of a 1997 report in the medical journal Archives of

            Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine stated, "More children are

            killed by parental smoking than all unintentional injuries
                                                                       Pointer 8

             combined." [ . . . ] Infants whose mothers smoked during and

             after pregnancy are three times more likely to die of SIDS than

             infants of nonsmoking mothers. Secondhand smoke also causes

             many serious health problems. It contributes to as many as

             300,000 cases of pneumonia, bronchitis, and other respiratory

             infections in infants and children every year. It is also one of

             the risk factors in the development of childhood asthma,

             causing 8,000 to 26,000 new cases each year. And it has been

             found to increase the number of middle ear infections in

             children whose parents smoke. (Scheller)

      It was not until I kicked the habit over four years ago, that I realized

just how intrusive cigarette smoking really is. Smoking stinks! The crude,

despicable smell of cigarette smoke settles in one’s hair and clothing, and

the strong odor of burnt tobacco on one’s breath is repelling. Smoking

causes discoloration to one’s skin as well as one’s teeth, and is downright

unattractive. Not only is smoking unpleasant; smoking is an outright

nuisance. Smoke wafting about in the air of restaurants causes irritation to

one’s eyes, nose, and throat, making the prospect of enjoying a meal

virtually impossible.
                                                                     Pointer 9

      Humans are not the only species susceptible to the dangers of passive

smoke. Often overlooked in the epidemic of environmental tobacco smoke

are house pets. Because animals often share the same environment as their

owners, they too are subjected to the very same health risks caused by the

harmful chemicals contained in secondhand smoke:

                In a study being reported Wednesday in the American

                Journal of Epidemiology, researchers at the University of

                Massachusetts at Amherst and Tufts University in Boston

                found that a cat's risk of developing feline lymphoma, the

                most common cancer in cats, doubled if it shared a home

                with a smoker, and increased fourfold if it lived with two

                smokers. (Manning)

        Non-smokers are becoming more outspoken and are exercising their

right to protest against secondhand smoke and the health risks that have been

imposed upon them. Environmental tobacco smoke continues to be a great

concern in the United States, and many organizations including the

American Lung association, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, and the

Citizens Against Tobacco Smoke continue to passionately pursue the call to

ban smoking in all public places. The United States government is

petitioning for the rights of non-smokers as well:
                                                                     Pointer 10

                 The U.S. Labor Department has proposed a ban on smoking

                 in the workplace that would affect 70 million workers. No-

                 smoking signs now appear in food-chain outlets, such as

                 McDonald's restaurants, and at military installations. A bill

                 on Capitol Hill would banish smoking from all enclosed

                 public spaces, including restaurants and bars. (Brownlee)

It is important that non-smokers educate themselves on the health risks that

are associated with secondhand smoke and take extra precautionary steps to

protect themselves and their children from the deadly consequences of this

silent killer.

         As for smokers, the choice to quit smoking and possibly live longer,

healthier lives, is completely up to them. Whether people are heavy smokers

or light smokers has nothing to do with their ability to quit. People are

driven by their will. Smoking and quitting, like eating and exercising, are

matters of free will and personal choice. One can only hope and pray that

people who smoke cigarettes will seriously consider the effects smoking has

on their health as well as the people around them, and make the right choice.
                                                                   Pointer 11

                                Works Cited

American Cancer Society. “Cigarette Smoking.” Prevention and Early

      Detection. 11 Nov. 2003. 10 July 2004 <


Brownlee, Shannon. “The Smoke Next Door.” U.S. News and World Report

      20 June 1994: 66-68. ArticleFirst. OCLC FirstSearch. South

      Suburban Col. Lib., South Holland, IL. 5 July 2004


“Emphysema.” EMedicine Consumer Health. 18 June 2004. 10 July 2004


Manning, Anita. “Secondhand Smoke the Culprit in Common Cat Cancer.”

      USA Today. 30 July 2002, Life: 7. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO

      Host. South Suburban Col. Lib., South Holland, IL. 5 July 2004


McCuen, Gary E., ed. Tobacco, People, Profits and Public Health: Ideas in

      Conflict. Wisconsin: McCuen, 1997.

Scheller, Melanie. “Why Secondhand Smoke Is a Firsthand Hazard.”

      Current Health Nov. 1998: 22-24. Wilson Select Plus. OCLC

      FirstSearch. South Suburban Col. Lib., South Holland, IL. 14 June

      2004 <>.
                                                               Pointer 12

Smoak, Randolph D., Jr., “Smoking Should Be Banned in All Public

      Places.” Tobacco and Smoking. Ed. Mary E. Williams and Tamara L.

      Roleff . Opposing Viewpoints Series. San Diego: Greenhaven Press,

      1998. Opposing Viewpoints: Tobacco and Smoking. Infotrac. Bremen

      H.S. Lib., Midlothian, IL. 21 June 2004


Williams, Mary E., and Tamara L. Roleff, eds. Tobacco and Smoking.

      Opposing Viewpoints Series. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1998.

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