Smoking cigarettes has played a large part in American customs. They were once used to make people look cool or experienced. It was a pastime to calm nerves, almost therapeutic, like biting nails.
Cigarettes are none of these things. If anything, they create stress. They put a timer on lives, shortening them and putting the lives of others in danger.
To make every smoker quit abruptly by law is not possible, but federal laws that ban smoking in public areas need to be made in the United States.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. Every year, over 200,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with lung cancer and over 100,000 people die from it. Deaths from lung cancer represent about one out of every six deaths from cancer in the U.S.
Smoking cigarettes causes 80 to 90 percent of lung cancer cases. Having a smoking ban in effect could encourage smokers to quit, and possibly save lives. Quitting smoking has immediate benefits. It lowers the risk of lung cancer and former smokers will live longer than continuing smokers.
Smoking in public places leads to secondhand smoke, or sidestream smoke, which is the smoke inhaled from a lit cigarette by the smoker and other people. Sidestream smoke has higher concentrations of cancer causing chemicals than the smoke exhaled, or mainstream smoke, by the smoker.
Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous to children, pregnant women, senior citizens, and people that already have breathing complications. In 2006, the US Surgeon General reported that secondhand smoke can increase a child’s risk to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, and severe asthma. It can lead to premature death, lung cancer, and heart disease to any exposed.
Cigarettes can increase larynx, esophagus, and stomach cancer. On all cigarette cartons, there is the Surgeon General’s warning that says “smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy.”
Laws that ban smoking in public places need to be made to also eliminate the secondhand smoke that people would be exposed to.
Of course, not all smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke will get lung cancer or other diseases, but cigarettes simply increase the risks greatly. Cigarettes also create new risks of life changing and life threatening problems to smokers and the people exposed to secondhand smoke.
There are many benefits to federal laws to stop public smoking. These laws could save many lives.