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 deadly: 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 <http://www.cancer.org/ docroot/cus/cus_0.asp>. 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 <http://newfirstsearch.oclc.org>. “Emphysema.” EMedicine Consumer Health. 18 June 2004. 10 July 2004 <http://www.emedicinehealth.com/articles/16255-1.asp>. 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 <http://search.epnet.com>. 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 <http://newfirstsearch.oclc.org>. 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 <http://galenet.galegroup.com>. Williams, Mary E., and Tamara L. Roleff, eds. Tobacco and Smoking. Opposing Viewpoints Series. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1998.
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