Are We All Actually Safe?

June 18, 2011
By Shina Patel BRONZE, Ardsley, New York
Shina Patel BRONZE, Ardsley, New York
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

When we learn about the effects of smoking, we tend to focus on the smoker—not the danger it poses to the victims around them. Every year, more than 1,000 people die because of secondhand smoke in New York State—only one of the fifty states in America (No Smoking Inside!). People should not have to give up their lives due to the carelessness of another person. As a result of the government’s passivity, they are accepting the murder of citizens. Not only are citizens dying, but the father, mother or sibling of someone is dying. Everyday, families mourn endlessly over the death of their relatives. The suffering of hundreds of families can be ended with an effective solution. Smoking in public areas should be banned in all states; it harms the lives of innocent adults and children.

When someone smokes a cigarette, they release more than 250 carcinogens into their body. Among these are chemicals such as arsenic, which is used in rat poison and is toxic to humans. Another substance is tar—a thick material that we know is used to build roads—but when it is released into your body, it condenses and 70 percent of it is deposited in your lungs. Though these are only a few of the poisons in cigarettes, the other things are—surprisingly—common household items: nail polish remover, toilet cleaners, fuel additives and insecticides (Johnson). Would you willingly put these everyday items into your body? That’s basically what a cigarette smoker is doing—the toxins are just disguised.

We’ve all walked down a crowded, busy street with people rushing to get by. You turn the corner and there are a couple of friends smoking cigarettes. One of them has a metal lighter and the pack in their hands. They lean against the building behind them and glance at you quickly with a mean, empty stare as you walk by. You try to be polite: you turn your head, hold your breath and walk increasingly fast. You think that it was no big deal—only a puff of smoke. But is it for everyone, everyday?

Despite the common, naïve, belief, secondhand smoke poses a danger equivalent to smoking yourself. Of the thousands of chemicals in cigarettes, more than 8,000 are found in secondhand smoke (Secondhand Smoke and Cancer). U.S Surgeon General, Richard H. Carmona, woke people up from their lethal fairytale when he said, “The science is clear, secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance, but a serious health hazard that causes premature death and diseases in children and non-smoking adults” (Paige). Serious diseases: diseases like lung cancer—that by itself kills 3,000 non-smokers a year. Premature death: shortening your life, and taking away from memories and experiences. Increasing your chances of cancer by 20 to 30 percent (Secondhand Smoke and Cancer). Now, do you think everyone’s safe just because they don’t smoke?

Everyone in the country is affected by secondhand smoke—whether it is because of a family member, friend or the area that you live in. A common conflict deemed unalterable is that the amount of people that died working in places that permit public smoking—like bars or restaurants—is shooting up. Since the start of 1991, more than 260,000 workers have died from secondhand smoke at their work—that is the equivalent of wiping out all of Barbados in 20 years. To add even more pressure, this number increases by 20,000 people every year! (Countdown of Shame).

No one can assume that they are naturally protected from secondhand smoke; “The scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke” the Surgeon General stated in his 2006 report (Countdown of Shame). To preserve the lives of today’s people and coming generations, we need a solution. Who can we turn to when we need help? As it is the government’s job to protect the people of its country, it is the government’s responsibility to do what is needed—in this case, passing a law—banning all smoking in public.

Passing an anti-smoking law is not a one-day process, but, it has slowly started to take affect already. Today, with the increasing knowledge of smoking and secondhand smoke, people are starting to take action. Some 2,200 cities nationwide have passed laws preventing public smoking—included in these are our local towns: New York City and White Plains (State and Local Governments Are Helping). If communities continue to pass laws banning public smoking—in time—America would be a better place.

With a new anti-smoking law, everyone would be able to enjoy their lives. Though the opposition would argue that this takes away the rights of people, it does not. Banning public smoking would mean that when people use public facilities, they would refrain from smoking, just like they would do on an airplane or in government buildings. As a group, all people would be able to enjoy being together with nothing to fear. Non-smokers would be able to go outside without struggling to hold their breath and countless lives would be saved. But, even in the event that it did limit the rights of some people, what right would they be taking away? The right to kill themselves? What would be better for the nation as a whole? Who would protect what is right for the greater good? Though it seems controversial, this wouldn’t limit the rights of citizens; if they wanted to smoke, it would be alone or with other smokers—where they are only responsible for hurting only themselves.

Secondhand smoke kills thousands of people every year. But, soon we will realize that the victims didn’t die in vain. Scientists say that the key to the future is the past. Using our mistakes from the past, we learn and grow as people. Together as a nation we end our toughest problems. Together as a nation we can save lives of the brave. Together as a nation we can change the world. Banning public smoking nationwide is a simple, yet effective, solution, and one that will change America—and eventually the world—forever.

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This article has 5 comments.

on Jul. 25 2011 at 3:15 pm
shina this is really good! i actually read the whole thing and it was really interesting!

on Jul. 19 2011 at 9:47 am
Nicely researched article, with great points about the dangers of smoking.

on Jul. 19 2011 at 9:18 am
Definitely an issue that needs to be addressed for the future because smoking kills so many people! Well thought out writing supported by interesting statistics and scientific facts.

AG99 said...
on Jul. 18 2011 at 8:04 pm
Great Article!

on Jul. 15 2011 at 1:43 pm
This article is awesome! It's informative and interesting! Great Job!


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