What’s up with cigarettes?

FOR AND AGAINST: The impacts of smoking on people

By Walliyaddin Abdul Khalik

LimKokWing University of Creative Technology
Diploma in Mass Communication
Faculty of Communication, Media and Broadcasting (FCMB), Semester 4.

Although so many anti-smoking campaigns and community initiatives have been trying to create awareness on how cigarettes bring more harm than good, we can still see the effort made all this while seems to go nowhere.

There are so many arguments regarding the status of smoking in public areas. There are so many different points of view: while some may agree, others may not. However, research has been made where we can see the arguments pro et contra (Latin: for and against) on this point based on looking at the issue from the whole perspective.

The arguments for cigarette-smoking is that taxes from cigarettes help to boost the nation’s economic progression.

Cigarettes are believed to be the single-most traded item all around the globe, with approximately trillions of cigarettes being sold from country to country each year. Smoking is addictive, making it a good investment for expanding and increasing income for tobacco business industries in the long term.

Are these reasons strong enough to keep cigarettes available on the market?

There are two types of smokers – regular and occasional smokers. Regular smokers smoke constantly (habitual), while occasional smokers tend to smoke during certain social occasions or events.

Regardless of whether they are habitual or occasional smokers, however, as long as they smoke in a public area like offices, bus-stops, hotels, they will affect passive smokers in their vicinity.

Everyone is equally harmed by the effects of cigarettes. The passive smoker will obtain 70% of the hazardous smoke, while the one who lights up is only affected 30%. Smokers should smoke in areas with the least possibility of affecting nonsmokers.

Considering the harmful effects of smoking on health, the environment as well as the infringement of an individual’s rights, smoking should be banned in public places.

Throughout the years, surveys, studies and scientific research have proven that smoking is injurious to health. Cigarettes are claimed to be unhealthy because they contain poisonous and harmful chemicals that could cause suffocation.

There are approximately 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes, most of which are toxic. The ingredients in cigarettes will not just affect the functioning of internal organs, but also the efficiency of our body’s immune system.

Smoking could do more harm to passive smokers, especially when it comes to someone who’s in poor health or more vulnerable like infants, children, pregnant women and senior citizens.

Many women who do smoke during pregnancy have reported cases of difficulties in pregnancy or defects in their baby. A pregnant woman’s risks of giving birth to a stillborn baby, premature delivery, suffering a miscarriage or risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) that causes sudden death to their newborn are increased.

In terms of male reproductive health, there has also been increasing evidence that smoking may cause male sexual impotence.

Besides the harmful effects of cigarettes on our health, regular cigarette-smoking also affects an individual’s finances.

Cigarettes cost the smoker a lot of money. On average, a regular smoker may consume a minimum of one pack of cigarettes every day. Considering the cost of cigarettes at RM10 per pack, the average smoker would be spending RM3,650 each year.

Not to mention the cost it takes for the medical check-up for any occurrence of internal failure or diseases related to smoking.

Research done by scholars and the health ministry also show that smoking pollutes the environment.

Smokers are one of the direct contributors to environmental pollution. Smoking affects the environment greatly in the terms of air pollution, land pollution and water pollution.

Another strong reason why the government should ban cigarettes is because of its potential to spare a huge loss in the country’s economy and spending.

When it comes to how smokers affect the country’s loss of productivity, the government spends billions of ringgit each year in health-related costs including the cost of loss in productivity caused by illness and death from smoking.

Due to the enormous increase in death rates from lung cancer caused by smoking over the past few decades, the public has been made aware of the detrimental effects of smoking through the various anti-smoking campaigns. Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are believed to have spent a lot of money on anti-smoking campaigns and awareness programmes based on the statistics from the World Health Organisation over recent years.

We live in a planet that we share. In every decision that we make, some may agree while others may not. We need to think of the consequences and the impacts of our life choices on others before making a decision.

Though some people would demand for the illegalisation of cigarettes, the statement may be too bold and unfair for those who are smokers. If a law was passed totally banning the consumption of cigarettes, a lot of people will be considered criminals as they would be unable to get rid of their habits in just a day.

The least that we can do is either create awareness of our environment or even consider providing isolated and enclosed areas for smokers to prevent nonsmokers from being exposed to secondhand smoke. By doing so, it would be a win-win situation for everyone.

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