Cigarette smoking has been linked to several severe health complications, and this has sparked a debate on whether or not cigarette smoking should be banned. The effects that cigarettes have on health are detrimental, not only to the smoker, but also to the people around him or her (Robinson & Kirkcaldy, 2009). Although smoking has not been proven to cause cancer, the prevalence of lung cancer has been linked to tobacco smoking, and the mortality rate of people, who contract lung cancer, is very high. This should be enough reason to cause a ban on cigarette smoking.
Smoking has been associated with lung cancer. Smoke particles have been proven to carry over four thousand chemicals. Of these four thousand chemicals, as many as sixty nine have been proven to be carcinogenic, that is, causes of cancer. This is enough to be wary about smoke particles. Moreover, several studies have proven that smoking has a strong correlation with lung cancer, and this is supportive of the fact that smoke particles contain carcinogenic chemicals. Therefore, smoking bears serious health risks, not only to the smoker, but also to the people, who are around him or her, since it is a very likely cause of lung cancer, and probably other forms of cancer too.
Apart from causing lung cancer, smoking also causes other respiratory problems. Smoke particles destroy the airways to the lungs and reduce the abilities of these airways to clean, warm and moisten the air that gets into the lungs. As a result, several foreign particles accumulate in the airways and clog them, leading to a number of complications. These complications include bronchitis, chronic airway obstruction and emphysema. These are the health complications that increase the risk of infection with other serious diseases, and, therefore, pose a major health challenge.
In addition to causing respiratory problems, smoking also causes several diseases related to the cardiovascular system. Cigarette smoke contains nicotine, an addictive substance that also enhances the deposition of cholesterol in the arteries and other blood vessels. This unchecked deposition of cholesterol in arteries causes atherosclerosis, a disease that hardens arteries. This, in turn, could cause blood clots within the arteries, and could lead to several diseases that affect the cardiovascular system. These diseases include: coronary heart disease, which could lead to heart attacks; strokes, which affect the brain and could cause paralysis; and other diseases that could lead to pain or even gangrene in the limbs.
Smoking could also cause blindness in a number of ways (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). Atherosclerosis is an increased risk factor for diabetes, and diabetes is known to cause an increased retention of fluid in the eyeball, leading to problems with vision. Secondly, smoking is also known to cause macular degeneration. Thirdly, it also increases the risk of the development of cataracts, leading to poor eyesight. All these diseases could lead to either partial or total blindness.
Besides the health risks, smoking affects the economy in an extremely adverse way. Despite the fact that cigarettes earn a lot of money in revenue, the cost of smoking to the economy is much greater in terms of the people, who die out of smoking-related diseases and complications. Moreover, smoking costs a lot of money in terms of treatment of the diseases and reduction in productivity due to the poor health. Several studies have found that healthcare costs that are directly attributable to smoking, run into the billions of US Dollars every year in China alone. Indirect costs are even higher.
Another problem with smoking is the addiction it causes. Cigarette smoke contains nicotine, an addictive substance. Addiction is a problem for many reasons. First, people, who smoke, are not settled, unless they smoke. They tremble, sweat and are uneasy, a state that reduces their productivity at the workplace. Secondly, the amounts of nicotine that cigarette smoke contains are not only sufficient to make an individual addicted to tobacco, but they also make it difficult to quit smoking; hence, the addictive nature of nicotine contained in tobacco is harmful socially (Milios & King, 1994).
Smoking also taints the personal image of the smoker. Inasmuch as smoking is a personal choice, the activity taints the personal image of the smoker. The tar taints the teeth of the smoker brown. It also increases the risk of periodontal disease, which leads to swollen gums, bad breath and tooth loss. Not only that, but the society also has a harsh way of judging smokers. Therefore, smoking taints the personal image of the smoker, making the society’s judgment of him harsh.
If smoking has harmful effects on the health of the active smoker, its effects on the health of passive smokers is detrimental. Unfortunately, the people, who suffer these effects of passive smoking, do not smoke by choice. It is unfortunate that they should be victimized, as the active smoker enjoys a smoke. This is why many countries have passed the laws banning smoking outside of the smoking zones. Passive smoking could also cause just as many health complications as active smoking. These include different types of cancer, circulatory diseases, eye problems, dental problems, cognitive problems, respiratory problems and different ear nose and throat infections.
Smoking has ill effects on the health of pregnant mothers, their unborn babies and young infants. Pregnant mothers, who smoke, run the risk of giving birth to children with low birth weight. The risk of premature birth is also enhanced. Moreover, studies have shown that the mothers-to-be, who smoke, have an increased risk of giving birth to children with congenital anomalies. The infant, who is exposed to passive smoking, could easily develop skin disorders and respiratory problems, such as asthma, bronchitis and allergies (Milios & King, 1994).
Indeed, there are several reasons to discredit smoking, including the risks it presents to health, the detrimental effect it has on the social image of the smoker, and the tremendous cost it imposes on the economy in terms of its mortality rate and the treatment of the associated diseases (Yang, Sung, Mao, Hu & Rao, 2011).
However, there are a few reasons why smoking should not be banned. Smoking contributes to the economy in some way, since there are people who are employed on tobacco farms and cigarette factories. Also, exporting cigarettes contributes to the economy in general. The revenue that sale of the tobacco bags is worth allows the practice to continue (Milios & King, 1994). Inasmuch as smoking has its disadvantages, there are some benefits to it.
Another reason why smoking should not be banned is that banning it may only make it a more lucrative business, since it will carry on away from the spotlight of law enforcers. To illustrate this, proponents of this argument cite such places as Mexico and Latin America, where drugs are illegal, yet they continue to turn over billions of dollars. Another argument holds that there is no evidence that smoking actually causes cancer, because there are several people who smoke and have not contracted cancer. Conversely, there are several people who do not smoke but have lung and other types of cancer. Therefore, there is no direct causality between cancer and smoking.
In spite of the tough arguments forwarded by proponents of smoking, the truth is that smoking comes at a very steep cost in health and economics. The practice is not worth the human life that is lost to it. All countries should thoroughly consider banning cigarette smoking.