Saturday, May 22, 2010

Say No to Cigarettes and the Differences between Illegal Drugs and Nicotine

Drawing of a smoking cigarette

There is a lot of propaganda against the use of drugs, but surprisingly comparatively little and less severe reactions against the use of cigarettes, especially despite the fact we are clearly aware of its dangers along with its high level of addictiveness. What might be the reason for such preference and biased and unequal treatment?

The argument is often brought up that tobacco is legal, while the other kinds of drugs are illegal. But legality can be akin to fashion: It changes according to the seasons. Once alcohol used to be illegal, and drugs were tolerated. Birth control pills and condoms used to be illegal until their use was finally admitted. Abortion is still a crucial and controversial issue where not only countries but both states and people are thoroughly divided. Not to mention gay marriage, of course, where legality often becomes mixed up with morality.

Another point concerning illegal drugs is its apparent lack of discrimination: All drugs are judged as equally evil and harmful, which would be the same as treating all alcoholic beverages as dangerous, without considering its potency, that a beer cannot be on par with vodka, for example. There is no doubt in my mind that certain drugs, such as cocaine, opium, heroin, crystal meth, are inherently harmful and have devastated many people's lives, yet others, more "natural" drugs, such as marijuana have proven beneficial for medicinal purposes.

But I am less interested in the discussion of drugs; I rather wonder how come cigarettes do not need to sustain the same vicious attacks. Why are people not demanding tobacco to be put into the same category and declared illegal as it is a clear and visible danger that is killing people all over the world and draining the health care system?

And why is this fight against tobacco halfhearted and -measured attempts instead of a full-out war? It seems that the strategy is to attack the consumers, the smokers, by containing them in and limiting them to certain restricted areas, but this obviously does not stop them from smoking; it makes their lives rather more inconvenient and by thankfully giving us nonsmokers a bit of protection from the dangerous effects of second-hand smoke.

Yet the problem lies in the continuous production and various business practices of the profit-wielding cigarette industry. This might be a reason why we tend to accept it and turn a blind eye towards it and accept it simply as legal. A lot of profit has been made from the cigarette industry for various decades now, and the good news for the industry is that unlike oil it is not running dry.

There is another reason why the industry is openly flirting with and attracting teenagers. Their unscrupulous fear and concern lies in the fact that older generations will die out soon, and they will lose out on their regular clientele, while youth may be life-long victims whose pockets can be drained for years to come.

But let us look at some of the harmful effects of nicotine, for example, keeping in mind, however, that cigarettes are a dangerous cocktail of several life-threatening chemicals. The word comes from the French diplomat Jean Nicot who introduced it to the Western world and thrilled the aristocracy of his times.

Nowadays, nicotine actually works as quite a useful pesticide. It is again only one element of various substances that destroys a person's body. For a much more substantial and comprehensive list of negative effects, please take a look at The Effects of Smoking on the Body published by Healthline and you may not want to touch another cigarette again! I think it is not enough to have a few ads here and there warning or intimidating people of its effects and dangers, nor is it a very useful strategy to ban smoking in public places.

I do applaud those measures as a nonsmoker and somebody who is concerned of the negative effects of secondhand smoke, yet it still remains only a halfhearted measure. The practice may decline slightly, but those who smoke will continue to poison their body and destroy their lives, while everyone else keeps up the war on drugs pretending that everything else is all right and under control.


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John said...

I think Abbas is right. It it were not political suicide to also control cigarette usage, then there were would be more impetus behind the effort.

You almost have to get the problem under control before you can control the problem with legislation. Of course whether the government should control the problem with legislation is another question and whether legislation can control the problem is still another.

Some argue that more problems have been introduced in America by trying to control drugs than were ever solved. As Americans, we continually come up with new ways to commit suicide and this is just one that stuck really well.

I don't know what suicide methods other nations prefer, although I do know cigarettes are a subtle, often embraced, method.

I hate the whole thing, actually. It just makes me want to have a drink and forget about it.


Ana said...

Don't forget the legal drugs like Prozac, Effexor, Zoloft, Paxil... the SSRIs and many other psych-drugs that are equally destroying lives.

Lolita said...

It's great article. I am writting approximately on the same theme - about smoking cessation, smoking effects, smoking facts at the said...

Hi Arash,

I hope all is well with you. Healthline just published an infographic detailing the effects of tobacco smoke on the body. This is an interactive chart allowing the reader to pick the side effect they want to learn more about.

You can see the overview of the report here:

Our users have found our guide very useful and I thought it would be a great resource for your page:

I would appreciate it if you could review our request and consider adding this visual representation of the effects of smoking to your site or sharing it on your social media feeds.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

All the best,
Maggie Danhakl • Assistant Marketing Manager

Healthline • The Power of Intelligent Health
660 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 | @Healthline | @HealthlineCorp

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