Dangers Of Tobacco Use
It is now generally accepted that tobacco-smoking is directly responsible for
more than 80% of lung cancer cases, as well as being a major contributor to
emphysema, chronic bronchitis, coronary heart disease and stroke, as well as
respiratory tract infections in children exposed to second-hand smoke. Mothers
who smoke have a higher incidence of poor birth outcomes, including low birth
weight babies. Second-hand smoke is also known to contribute to respiratory
illnesses and even lung cancer in those who never used tobacco.
With all these facts, it is hard to understand why anyone would continue to
use tobacco. The answer is nicotine. Nicotine has been proven to be addictive
in human and animal studies. A person who uses tobacco can become addicted very
rapidly and find it extremely difficult to quit. Nicotine, upon entering the
bloodstream, will affect brain activity, muscle relaxation, and cardiovascular
and hormonal responses. While it is not the direct cause of illness, it is the
“Hook” which keeps the user exposed to tobacco.
Tobacco smoke harms everyone exposed, whether smoker or second-hand victim.
The effects of smoking are massive, killing more people each year than fires,
murders, suicides, AIDS, alcohol and drugs combined.
For many years, cigarette companies denied that smoking was a health hazard
or addictive. The product was aggressively marketed, especially to young people,
and the under 18 age group is still one of the largest user groups. Information
which has been produced in the last few years shows that the companies did know
that nicotine was addictive and some companies even added extra levels of nicotine
artificially to their product.
Litigation with cigarette companies was unsuccessful until 1996, when several
states filed suit against a company which agreed to a settlement. More litigation
has since taken place with some success and even more is expected.