A Journal for Western Man




When Smoking Gets in Your Eyes:

Separating the Facts from the Fiction

Steven Weingarten

Contributing Authors:

Paul Newman, Michael Mazur, Michael Gonzalez

Issue XIII- April 19, 2003


These days, anywhere we go, we may see people drinking alcohol, doing drugs or having a cigarette. We see people smoking and drinking in bars, people smuggling and using illegal drugs, or consuming a combination of tobacco and illicit substances in the privacy of their own homes. But out of all the drugs out there, nicotine is the easiest to get addicted to. Contrary to popular myths of its trendiness and relative safety, smoking is a dangerous health hazard that should be avoided at all costs. An aversion to such a habit is proper because of the harmful effects of chemicals contained in cigarettes and deliberately kept within them by the tobacco companies, the susceptibility of youth to addiction, and the impact of smoking on aesthetic attractiveness.

One reason smoking should be avoided is the myriad of harmful effects generated by the chemicals contained in cigarette smoke. Among them, nicotine keeps cigarettes addictive. In their ranks is also present a multitude of disease-causing agents. The author of Cigarettes are Poisonous notes, "Tobacco companies put these chemicals into cigarettes to reduce tar while maintaining the nicotine necessary to keep them addictive" (p.2). The author is making it clear that the tobacco companies do not care about the amount of chemicals in cigarettes. They only care about how to maintain the amount of nicotine that keeps people addicted to cigarettes. Furthermore, tobacco companies not only know that they put so many chemicals into their products, but that they also control how much nicotine they put into cigarettes. Author Richard Kluger has recently published a book that notes how cigarette companies know that they wield full authority over that amount. Kluger explains in the book "how the cigarette industry consciously controls and strengthens the nicotine levels in cigarettes" (p.2). This means that the cigarette companies know exactly what they are doing. They care about how to maximize the profit of their business. They are only concerned with getting people to become addicted to their products. Several of the thousands of chemicals, when released by smoke, cause cancer, which no one should suffer from. The Health Education Authority notes, "Tobacco smoke contains over 4000 different chemicals. At least 43 are known carcinogens (cause cancer in humans)." (p. 1). This means tha everyone who is in contact with cigarette smoke is at risk of getting diagnosed with cancer; both smokers as well as non-smokers are at risk. The carcinogens may not exhibit immediate effects, but prolonged exposure may ultimately cause health problems. Nicotine and carcinogens are the most dangerous chemicals that cigarettes have in them.

Another reason why smoking should be avoided at all costs is the susceptibility of youth to addiction. Teens and young adults could get addicted to smoking through advertising and peer pressure. Tobacco companies often look for the age group that is the most vulnerable to the initiation of smoking. The companies subsequently target that group through advertisements. Kluger, in his book, writes that tobacco companies are, "…focusing advertising on 10- 16 year olds knowing that that age group is the most easily hooked" (p.2).

This means that the tobacco companies are focusing their attention on getting young people to try cigarettes. This age group does not necessarily understand the dangers of smoking. In effect, it is up to uninformed kids to say that they would or would not like to try cigarettes. Furthermore, the advertising is everywhere one goes, including most magazines readily available to teens. Teens are attracted to smoking because of the advertising that can be seen in many places. Thousands of teens are also pressured into smoking by their peers, and they give into the urge. According to the U.S. Smoking Statistics, "…more than 6000 people under age 18 try a cigarette each day, and each day more than more than 3000 persons under 18 become daily smokers" (p.1). This means that thousands of teens today are becoming smokers. Teens should be concerned about a decision to do something that affects their health and the health of others. Furthermore, many daily smokers probably started smoking in their early teens. Teens who start smoking know little or nothing about the harms of cigarettes when they are younger. According to the U.S. Smoking Statistics, "…50% of smokers begin tobacco use by age 14; and 25% begin their smoking addiction by age 12 (the sixth grade)" (p.2). This reveals without further doubt that too many teens and pre-teens are starting to smoke. Tobacco companies are influencing them to start smoking before they know what they are doing.

A final reason smoking should be avoided is the impact that such a habit has on one’s aesthetic attractiveness. Smokers who start during their teen years accumulate negative effects on their physical beauty. According to Rachel Ellis, "Dermatologists have found premature wrinkles on the faces of smokers as young as 20" (p.1). In essence, smokers can develop premature wrinkles, which can lead to moderate or even severe wrinkles later on in life. Furthermore, the earlier one starts smoking, the earlier one gets these unwanted wrinkles. As Ellis contends, these wrinkles should be considered one of the smoking health risks. In addition to wrinkles, smoking also causes tooth decay. The author of the periodical, The Smoker’s Body, claims that smoking disrupts the chemistry of the mouth: "Smoking interferes with the mouth’s chemistry, creating excess plaque, yellowing teeth and contributing to tooth decay" (p.3). The problem is that smoking does not have a neutral effect on one’s mouth. Smoking renders your mouth gradually defenseless against plaque, yellow teeth, and tooth decay. Furthermore, smoking is also a contributor to the discoloration of the fingers and the fingernails. The author of The Smokers’ Body reveals that the fingers and their nails are tar collectors when smoke is released by cigarettes. He notes, "The tar in cigarette smoke collects on the fingers and fingernails, staining them a yellowish- brown" (p.4). He claims that the tar from cigarettes accumulates on the fingers and nails. It turns them into disgusting objects on one’s hands. In short, smoking is something to avoid if one does not wish to disfigure one’s body.

Smoking is a horrible, hazardous health problem that needs to be resolved right away, both by individuals choosing not to smoke and by stricter regulations in public places. Today, when one goes to restaurants, one is asked to sit in either the smoking or non-smoking section. Nevertheless, the fumes from the smoking section often permeate into the space occupied by non-smokers as well. Also, when one is walking in a public area such as a park, one frequently passes or is passed by a smoker. The second-hand smoke flows into one’s lungs and increases one’s affinity for devastating physical disorders. Almost everywhere one goes, there exists the chance of finding a smoker with a cigarette, causing a problem that one should not have to worry about.

Steven Weingarten is a contributor to The Rational Argumentator. Paul Newman, Michael Mazur, and Michael Gonzalez are his associates in research who have assisted in the preparation of this work.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

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