Dangers of Smoking Tobacco
Dangers of Smoking Tobacco
This paper approaches the conversation on cigarette smoking with the resolve that all kinds of smoking are harmful to the human body. Cigarettes are the only legal substance whose intended use and sales campaigns are known to cause harm to the users and including cancer. The conversation is about how to tame this increasing menace and change the perception of people on the idea that there are certain smoking habits that are less harmful. Some people are of the idea that shifting from high-tar and high nicotine cigarettes to low ones make it safer for them to continue with the practice of smoking. When smokers switch to these low tar and nicotine cigarettes they tend to smoke more or combine one low nicotine and tar cigarette with one regular to achieve the usual nicotine dose.
Marketers and other people with special interests have led smokers to believe that “light” cigarettes do not have a huge health risk and create a path for quitting. However, usually, the reverse effect is achieved because a low tar cigarette has the same health implication as to the regular one mainly due to the smoker taking deeper puffs, smoking until almost to the butt length or puffing more often. In addition, there is that perception menthol-flavored cigarettes make the cigarettes less dangerous, which is a complete misconception since menthol only adds flavor to the tobacco. In fact, menthol cigarettes are a greater health hazard combined in a cigarette because of the cooling sensation it provides when the smoke is inhaled. It interferes with the natural cough reflex and covers the parched sensation smokers often have meaning people who smoke menthol inhale deeper and hold their breath longer.
Here are the real effects of smoking that contradict all these assumptions. Cigarette smoking (nicotine) is very addictive and compares to hard drugs like heroin and cocaine in this regard. A smoker is still at risk even if they puff the cigarette without pulling the smoke in since cigarettes are made of various chemicals that can go into the body through the skin, the mouth, and the nose. These are the chemicals that cause what is referred to as “smokers cough” when a smoker inhales the chemicals that combine to make the cigarette, they irritate the air passage as well as the lungs and the mucus and coughing is the body’s retaliation. These chemicals then over time cause the noxious chemicals that cause severe conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema and lung cancer. The smoke that is not inhaled stays in the air around the smoker and when the next breathe is taken, then it moves right into their lungs without them noticing.
Smoking causes a tone more health defects that call for action in order to remedy the situation and prevent manufacturers from taking advantage of the vulnerability of addicts. This research on the various aspects of smoking most importantly its effects and what can be done to remedy the problem is a contribution to the development of policy and regulation for the tobacco industry and sales measures. The research relies to a certain extent on the opinions of smokers and non-smokers and whether they perceive this as a problem and whether it should be remedied. According to the WHO, it is one of the few marketable products that have no regulation in terms of emissions and its ingredients. That said, tobacco is the only legally available product that kills up to 50 percent of its regular consumers who use the product as recommended by the producers. In the United States, President Barack Obama signed a law in 2009 giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration a full mandate to regulate the manufacture, marketing and sale of tobacco products. This law can be considered the most sweeping action yet in dealing with the leading preventable cause of death in the country.
Before the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, there was no regulation for tobacco products, in fact, under the U.S. federal health and safety laws such as the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, tobacco products were exempted from regulation. The FDA has for decades been regulating consumables but not tobacco products, in exemption to those rare cases when manufacturers made unequivocal health statements. President Obama in the same year also added the Tobacco Control Act. These new laws added these regulations (Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, 2009):
Restrictions on the advertisement and promotion of tobacco products in pursuit of the wellbeing of the general public.
Prohibits the illegal sale of tobacco to minors
Restricts the flavors that can be added to cigarettes only to menthol and prohibits fruit and candy flavors in tobacco products.
Prohibits statements that suggest reduced risks from using certain tobacco products without scientific proof or any such claims that would cause public health concerns
Mandates the manufacturers of tobacco to disclose the ingredients, any alterations to their products and any findings from research with regard to their health effects
The health warnings on packages are required to be larger, more graphic, more visible and with informative health warning tags.
The use of terms such as light, mild and low-tar are prohibited from packages and in promotional messages while giving the FDA the ability to restrict additional terms in the future.
Although the Federal government has done a great deal in the past two decades considering more than a decade of little action on the smoking phenomenon, there are still more things to do. According to the FDA, the Tobacco Control Act has made a significant milestone. The “The Real Cost” campaign for instance which was launched to prevent youths between the age of 11 and 18 years from smoking recorded that 350,000 teens were kept from tobacco between 2014 and 2016 which translated to $31 billion saved in costs related to tobacco use (Cancer Action Network, 2019). The other milestones do not really matter in my opinion because the main reason for the legislation is the reduction of smoking habits for the entire generation.
What the FDA can do to augment the protections under the Tobacco Control Act is to fully exercise its authority in protecting the public and regulating tobacco products. The agency considering the effects discussed earlier concerning the effects of menthol should remove this flavor and any other. Although cigarettes can only have a menthol flavor, other products still can be flavored. There is no doubt that these products attract youth. There is evidence that menthol in cigarettes makes it more desirable to young people and facilitates addiction. It is fair to mention that the FDA has made it public that it is considering the removal of all flavors from every tobacco product but it is yet to do so.
After the regulations were enacted, the FDA is yet to conduct a review of tobacco products and their health effects on the public. The FDA will not achieve much by allowing products like e-cigarettes which are favorite for the youth to remain on the market without an assessment. The lack of review is the reason behind the current vaping epidemic. The graphic warning labels that were issued by the FDA were removed by the courts and the agency is yet to act again (Chaloupka, et al 2015).
The FDA’s promise to reduce the nicotine levels to standards that are not addictive is yet to materialize. The FDA as promised should strike a product standard that will ensure that the amount of nicotine in combustible tobacco is not at a level that can cause heavy reliance. With such a regulation and others considering manufacturing standards, a track and trace system is required. There should be a way that the products can be traced from the manufacturer to the supplier and to the retailer to ensure the integrity of the supply chain. Deterring illicit trade of tobacco products helps with the enforcement of regulations of the products.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is the main agency that can deal with this issue and create a bigger impact considering its exclusive authority over the regulation of tobacco products. However, there are other players that can contribute to the taming of the smoking menace. The states can control the use of tobacco through taxation. On average, all states have $1.74. All States should have a standard policy to curb the consumption of tobacco (Truth Initiative, 2019). In 2017, the state of New York vowed to raise cigarette prices to $13 per pack from $10, which was still considerably high compared to many states across the country. The State of New York prior to this decision still had one of the highest cigarette taxes at $4.35 for each pack. Chicago is the only city that had a higher tax at $6.06 including state and local taxes. Meanwhile, in other states, the average price of a pack of cigarettes was $6.16, which included federal and states taxes at an average of $1.01. In short, the price of a pack in the rest of the country was only equivalent to the taxes in Chicago. This price would also be less than half that of New York. If New York and the City of Chicago can set such higher taxes, it means that regulators in other states can enact similar tax provisions to curb the use of tobacco products.
There are various forms of appeals that can be used to influence the decisions of the FDA and lawmakers in dealing with the issue of tobacco use. Before launching petitions, however, petitioners should collect enough evidence to convince the appropriate audience why certain actions should be taken. A good example is a report by the National Academy of Medicine formally the institute of medicine that concluded raising the legal age of smoking to 21 would result in a significant impact on public health and save lives. Because most adults (95 percent) begin the habit before they reach the age of 21 prohibiting among youths below that age would mean a significant reduction (Kwan, Stratton, & Bonnie, 2015). Also, almost 50 percent of adult smokers shift from experiential to full-time smokers between the ages of 18 and 21. So using research to speak to policymakers creates a more compelling petition that would be hard to ignore considering their mandate to protect the interests of citizens.
The other way of speaking to these audiences is by using the right to petition as provided in the First Amendment. There is a large number of people out there that are bothered by passive smokers and would be willing to append signatures to the quest. In addition, there are organizations that are willing to push the course and become signatories to ideas they have an interest in. A good example is the Tobacco-free Kids Campaign that was co-signed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Cancer Action Network, and Vital Strategies (American Academy of Family Physicians, 2018). These petitions wanted the Free Trade Commission (FTC) to stop social media campaigns that were conducted behind the scenes by tobacco companies. These campaigns included young, energetic and desirable people living their best lives and using captions that were attractive and shared mostly by teens in the United States.
Kwan, L. Y., Stratton, K., & Bonnie, R. J. (Eds.). (2015). Public health implications of raising the minimum age of legal access to tobacco products. National Academies Press.
Chaloupka, F. J., Warner, K. E., Acemoğlu, D., Gruber, J., Laux, F., Max, W., … & Sindelar, J. (2015). An evaluation of the FDA’s analysis of the costs and benefits of the graphic warning label regulation. Tobacco Control, 24(2), 112-119.
Tobacco Control Legal Consortium. (2009). Federal regulation of tobacco: a summary. Saint Paul, Minnesota.
American Academy of Family Physicians. (2018, August 27). Petition Demands Stop to Big Tobacco’s Social Media Deception. Retrieved from https://www.aafp.org/news/government-medicine/20180827tobaccopetition.html
Cancer Action Network. (2019, January 22). Tobacco Control: At the Federal, State, and Local Levels. Retrieved from https://www.fightcancer.org/policy-resources/tobacco-control-federal-state-and-local-levels
Truth Initiative. (2019, June 27). A Decade of the Tobacco Control Act: Where Are We Now? Retrieved from https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/tobacco-prevention-efforts/decade-tobacco-control-act-where-are-we-now