Tobacco was introduced into the American colonies in the early 1600s. The tobacco plant soon became the leading crop and trading commodity in America. Tobacco was widely accepted up until the 1960s when researchers found that there was health effects directly associated with tobacco use. However, since the 1970s tobacco use has increased dramatically. An increasing amount of tobacco users has caused an increasing number of deaths in America because it has been proven to cause cancer.
In the 1990s there has been a dramatic increase of users, especially teenagers. The tobacco report by Thriveonline.com says “a 15-fold increase in smokeless tobacco has been noted in adolescents aged 17 to 19” (Thrive Online). The United States Department of Health and Human Services says “more than 80% of current adult tobacco users started smoking cigarettes before age 18 years” (CDC Foundation). Most tobacco users are addicted before they reach the age of 21. The tobacco industry focuses its advertisements on teenagers. They spend close to six million dollars a year.
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Deaths caused by tobacco use have also increased. Cigarette smoking is the main cause of cancer deaths in America. The American Cancer Society says,
“Lung cancer mortality rates are about 23 times higher for current male smokers and 13 times higher for current female smokers compared to lifelong never-smokers. In addition to being responsible for 87% of lung cancers, smoking is also associated with cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, uterine cervix, kidney, and bladder. Smoking accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths, is a major cause of heart disease and is associated with conditions ranging from colds and gastric ulcers to chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and cerebrovascular disease (related to blood circulation)” (ACS).
There are approximately 400,000 deaths a year caused by smoking tobacco in the United States (Who Smokes?). Statistically, men are more prone to using tobacco than women. In the United States, the number one cause of death for men is tobacco related illnesses.
One of the main reasons why there is an increase of tobacco users is the fact that they are addictive. Tobacco use is addictive because of the chemical nicotine. Cigarettes are especially addictive, the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information states in their article “About Cigarette Smoking,” “one-third of young people who are just “experimenting” end up being addicted” (7). Tobacco users develop a tolerance toward nicotine and use more tobacco to satisfy the needs of the body. Users become dependent on the nicotine in tobacco both physically and mentally. If the user does not satisfy the needs of the body, then the body goes through withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms include body temperature changes, heart rate, headaches, nervousness and appetite changes. Premature deaths and diseases are mainly caused by tobacco, which can be prevented. Even if you combine deaths from AIDs, alcohol, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides, smoking still kills more each year.
Research proves that tobacco causes cancer because of the many carcinogens. The number one cancer caused by cigarettes is lung cancer, however, there are also other problems associated with tobacco. Although companies are making cigarettes safer by using filters, low-tar cigarettes, and 100% “natural” cigarettes to deaden smoker’s fears. According to Tara Parker-Pope, author of Cigarettes, “tobacco contributes to 30% of all cancer deaths” (110). There are up to 25 diseases that are the result of using tobacco. Tobacco users have a 50% chance or higher that they will die from a tobacco-related health illness, and of those tobacco users 50% will die before they reach the age of 70. This means they cut off an astounding 22 years of their life expectancy. Tobacco users between the ages 30 and 50 have a much higher chance of a heart attack than non-tobacco users.
Even though tobacco kills many Americans each day, the tobacco industry creates many jobs. At one point the tobacco industry employed 34,000 people, but the latest report shows only 9,500 people employed by the industry (Sandford). If people make laws and restrictions on tobacco it would leave many people unemployed and the government would not see the money they bring in from the taxes.
There has been an amazing increase in tobacco users in America despite the research done on the cancer-causing drug. With all the medical advances and research, people would think that the tobacco users would see the effects that tobacco has on them. People should really consider throwing away the “cancer sticks” and chewing tobacco. Yet, one must keep in mind the jobs that the tobacco industry creates.
“About Cigarette Smoking.” National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information. 2000. 11 Mar. 2001 < http://
CDC Foundatoin. “Preventing tobacco use among young people: report of the Surgeon General.” Atlanta, Georgia: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 1994. 11 Mar. 2001 <http://www.cdc.gov/epo/mmwr/
Parker – Pope, Tara. Cigarettes. New York: The New York Press, 2001.
Sandford, Amanda, and Clive Bates. Action on Smoking and Health. Aug. 1998. 11 Mar. 2001 <http://www.ash.org.uk/
Thrive Online. Adam.com, Inc. Medical Library. 11 Mar. 2001 <http://thriveonline.oxygen.com/medical/library/article/002032.html>.
“Who Smokes?” The Ashtray: Smoking and Tobacco Abuse. 2000. Boston University. 11 Mar. 2001 <http://web.bu.edu/COHIS/
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