Smoking, Stigma And Social Class Essay

1559 words - 6 pages

The practice of smoking, whether it be the likes of tobacco, marijuana or other substances has been around for thousands of years. It has been a defining feature of many diverse ethnic and social groups and has been noted to take place in a variety of settings—ranging from sacred rituals and ceremonial meetings, private/ personal use, to simple or even somewhat elaborate get-togethers. The sacred and endowed side of smoking tobacco was generally believed to have medicinal as well as spiritual benefits. According to Jordan Paper, “[tobacco] was used in healing practices among Native peoples in Central and South America in ways similar to their use of powerful psychoactive plants.” It is true that, smoking has taken on many forms, but it is also critical to note that the spiritual aspect which was once prominent and wide spread in the Americas, has dwindled into a common-place recreational pleasure throughout the world.
Cigarettes (and its tobacco-related counterparts) have remained to this day, the most readily available and highly addictive substance that’s in legal America and “continues to be the leading cause of preventable death around the world” (Wascher). The production and sale of cigarettes should be made illegal in America because it manipulates people into adopting unhealthy lifestyles, encourages children to try smoking, and it subsequently shortens the lifespan of the smoker and those who surround them (second-hand smokers), by increasing the risk of adverse health effects.
The attitudes which surrounded cigarette smoking have seen a steady yet progressive shift from being ‘a [socially] acceptable and noncontroversial part of US life,’ to a seemingly chronic affliction that fuels a disgusting habit (qtd. in Graham). These attitudes were beginning to become increasingly popular after the 1950s and in 1964, the Surgeon General's report spurred a series of legislation designed to curb smoking in the United States. This ushered in an era of a tremendous battle and regulations towards tobacco companies by the government.
The impact that cigarettes have on our current society has cast a burden too great to bear. To understand the true detrimental impact of smoking and the subsequent lifestyle which it promotes, an Oncologist, Dr. Robert Wascher emphasizes that, “in the United States alone, tobacco causes more than half a million unnecessary deaths every year from cancer and other tobacco-associated diseases” and there is an estimated “8 million [+] people in the United States currently have diseases caused by smoking,” many of which from second-hand smoke ("Smoking Bans and the Tobacco Industry"). This figure is tremendous in stature and even though there has been “increased public education efforts”… and “increasingly restrictive laws against tobacco advertising and public smoking,” the number of tobacco related deaths are increasing (Wascher). This, however, still doesn’t dissuade smokers from smoking.
In addition to the unhealthy...

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