Smoking: The Killer Trend

Smoking causes death.

This isn’t a statement that was made by an anti-tobacco spokesperson, it is a fact reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC compares death statistics of tobacco compared to other killers.

The CDC compares death statistics of tobacco compared to other killers.

The CDC goes on to say that cigarette smoking is responsible for over 440,000 deaths each year in the United States, making it the cause of nearly one in every five deaths. Smoking has harmful effects on nearly every organ in the body, claiming responsibility for 90% of all lung cancer deaths amongst men and 80% of all lung cancer deaths amongst women. Each year more people will die as a result of tobacco use than by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicide, and murder combined, says the CDC.

In the past there was a lack of knowledge about the effects of cigarette smoking on the body, with the first Surgeon General Report regarding smoking and health being released in 1964. The report cited smoking as a cause of cancer in men, a possible cause of lung cancer in women, and the most important cause of chronic bronchitis. Since then, additional data has come out proving that smoking is the cause of more and more health issues, facts that people are bombarded with from an early age, with schools featuring programs such as D.A.R.E and PSA’s telling the effects of smoking. The evidence of smoking’s negative health effects is present and shared persistently; however, despite knowing the consequences young people continue to smoke.

According to the CDC, about 4,000 people younger than 18 smoke their first cigarette each day in the United States, 1,000 of whom become daily cigarette smokers. This produces about 400,000 young daily cigarette smokers each year. With that, 88% of adult smokers who smoke daily claim to have started smoking by the time they were 18 years old.

“I started smoking when I was 14, now I smoke half a pack of cigarettes a day,” said Jeff Matthews, a senior at Marist College. Matthews noted that the amount and frequency that he smokes has only increased over the years and that many of his friends are also daily smokers.

Some of the major factors associated with tobacco use amongst young people include: the accessibility, availability and price of tobacco products, exposure to tobacco advertisement, lack of parental support, the belief that smoking will have positive outcomes such as weight loss and coping with stress, low economic status, and tobacco use amongst peers, says the CDC. The CDC goes on to point out that there is evidence to indicate that younger people are more sensitive to nicotine, causing them to feel dependent on nicotine more rapidly than adults.

“I’ve tried to quit and I keep telling my boyfriend, ‘I’ll quit by the end of the month,’ but it’s a habit that I can’t break,” said Mary Buonocore, a senior at Marist College. Buonocore went on to say that she smokes both cigarettes and e-cigarettes, which has become a social norm amongst her friends at school. She explained that being away at college, a lot of people smoke cigarettes socially, so it’s not easy to quit while so many people around her are continuing to smoke.

Recently, New York City became the largest city to enact the “Tobacco 21” bill, raising the legal age to buy tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, from 18 to 21. Not only will the law raise the legal age to purchase cigarettes, but it will also prohibit vendors from putting discounts on tobacco products, according to CNN.

The Smokes 4 Less located across from Marist College in Poughkeepsie is known for requiring patrons to show their identification upon arrival, verifying their age. An employee from the store noted that Logic Electronic Cigarettes have become increasingly popular, and electronic smoking devices that use water vapor in general have become a hot commodity.

E-cigarettes are known for being used as a “smoking cessation” device, giving smokers a supposedly healthier means of smoking, according to Forbes. However, e-cigarettes have become more prevalent amongst younger people, and can be acting as a gateway, leading young people into smoking actual cigarettes.

Marist student smokes an e-cigarette while driving.

Marist student smokes an e-cigarette while driving.

Marist student Darcy Cullinan said, “I occasionally smoke socially, but I smoke e-cigarettes now pretty often. Everyone does, even people who never smoked actual cigarettes smoke e-cigs.” This e-cigarette craze is likely due in part to lack of awareness regarding the health effects of e-cigarettes.

Although e-cigarettes are said to be safer than tobacco cigarettes, it is still unclear how safe they really are. Erika Sward, the assistant vice president for National Advocacy at the American Lung Association, made a statement regarding e-cigarettes saying, “The American Lung Association is very concerned about what’s in e-cigarettes and what their impact to public health may be. We don’t know what’s in them, we don’t know what the harms of them may be, and that’s why it’s so important that the FDA begins its oversight of these products.”

As of 2011, it was found that 18.9% of adults ages 18-24 were cigarette smokers. Whether it be cigarettes or e-cigarettes, nicotine use amongst college students is prevalent, and young people are putting themselves at risk for future health problems every time they smoke. The CDC says that one of the most serious dangers of smoking is nicotine addiction because it prolongs tobacco use, leading to future issues.

Close to nine out of ten smokers began smoking by the time they were 18, and 99% of smokers began smoking by the time that they were 26 years old, according to a Surgeon General Report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. By age 26, almost all social smokers have progressed into daily smokers.

If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the United States each year would not happen, says the CDC. The key to preventing future health problems is keeping cigarettes out of the hands of young people and breaking the cycle of nicotine addiction.

Smoking causes death.

This is an indisputable fact.

Putting an end to the smoking epidemic is as simple as making the choice not to smoke.

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