Consequences of Smoking

Society | April 24, 2010 | Share

There are people who smoke and people who do not. It is in public places that individuals from these groups inevitably meet and are forced to interact. Now, should smoking be allowed in public places? Considering the matter objectively from the angles of environment health as well as individual rights, it is the non-smokers will that should prevail.

‘Smoke’-the very word conjures up a foul, unhealthy, suffocating, polluted environment with dark clouds of gases suffused everywhere.

The person who smokes faces a health hazard. Cigarette smoke leaves behind its deposits in the respiratory tract and is absorbed into the blood stream. Cigarette smoke contains a staggering 4000 different chemicals of which 43 are carcinogenic. Carbon monoxide concentration in the smoke is greater than 20000ppm (particles per million) which though diluted to 400 to 500ppm during inhalation, could yet lead to a host of diseases. It displaces oxygen from haemoglobin and the result is impairment of the central nervous system functions, cardiac and pulmonary diseases that may eventually lead to heart attacks. Ammonia and the other hydrocarbons present in it could cause asthama and other respiratory infections. The hydrocarbons are also the cause of lung cancer. The dust particles in it may be a cause of eye irritation, cancer and emphysema. Its nicotine content which is highly addictive substance, reaches the brain in no time and constricts the blood vessels, raises the blood pressure and gives the central nervous system a small jolt.

At home of course you are your own master and are free to do whatever you feel like. You may justify your smoking habit saying, “It calms me, it helps me work, think and forget the worries, it relieves me of tension, it helps me boss around in my peer group, it’s a status symbol, it’s a symbol of glamour.” But you have no right to disturb others by your smoking. There is no reason that your smouldering displeasure among your colleagues that may turn into conflagration, a spark neglected may burn a place and smokers will then be guilty of a massacre.

The smoke from other people’s cigarettes comes of a cigarette directly, rather than going through it and hence can contain three times the tar and ten times the concentration of carcinogenic agents as the filtered smoke that a smoker inhales. A non-smoker in a smoky room for just half an hour can wind up with the same amount of carbon monoxide in his blood as if he had smoked one cigarette directly. Thus, passive smoking is harmful and rather unjustifiable act.

People should be discouraged from smoking through concerted propaganda. Cigarette smoking should be glamourised through advertisements. It should be projected as an unethical and unpalatable act. Moreover, every propaganda should highlight the ‘statutory warning’ which is printed on each packet of cigarette. Heavy taxes should be levied on the tobacco industry so as to increase the prices of tobacco products so that they can be made inaccessible for the common man. Toeing the line of other developed nations of the world, if it becomes very unnecessary, smoking sections might be introduced in organisations and offices at least to leave the non-smokers free of pollution. Medical  and psychological help catered to people who are ready to shun this habit should be readily provided because initially a man smokes a cigarette and later a man smokes a cigarette.

Sheenam Munjral

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