Below are an essay and video ASH received from a 6th grader known as A.C.R.S. at Weston Middle School in Weston, CT. She argues a strong and well-cited case like a seasoned veteran in our field, simplifying an often challenging program of work to convince her readers of the strong public health gains to be had. Learn more about ASH’s work to phase out the sale of cigarettes here.
Some people think that smoking is so cool, that it’s not harmful, and that it’s fun to do. But here’s a little secret; they are none of those things. Smoking is deadly. Cigarettes kill about six million people each year. That’s how many innocent people die. It ruins people’s health. Multiple diseases can occur from smoking cigarettes. For example, you could acquire lung cancer, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), heart disease, stroke, and many other diseases. Smokers themselves wish they could quit. Lydia Saad, a Gallup journalist, states, “Twenty-four percent of national adults told Gallup in a survey earlier this year that they smoke cigarettes, and 79% say they would like to give it up.” Keeping cigarettes in people’s lives is the worst mistake this country can make. If we want to save lives and keep our country great, we must ban smoking.
Smoking is deadly. Robert N. Proctor, a BMJ journalist, states, “Cigarettes kill about 6 million people every year, a number that will grow before it shrinks.” Can you believe how many innocent people die every year just from an item the size of your finger? Well, it’s true and it’s sad. Smoking in the Twentieth Century killed 100 million people. A billion could die in this century unless people stop smoking. Robert N. Proctor also adds, “Even if present rates of consumption drop to zero by 2100, we will still have about 300 million tobacco deaths in this century.” The University of Illinois Extension says that cigarette smoke contains almost 4,000 chemicals, which include DDT, arsenic, and formaldehyde. Almost 90 percent of these chemicals stay in your lungs after smoking a cigarette. From these poisons, you could die of lung cancer and heart attacks. From smoking, lung cancer is responsible for nearly 135,000 U.S. deaths per year.
Companies are making smoking even worse for smokers. Cigarettes carry two times the amount of nicotine than in the 1960s. Nicotine is an addictive substance found in all tobacco products. Truth Initiative states, “Big Tobacco companies genetically engineered their tobacco crops to contain two times the amount of nicotine and adjusted their cigarette design so that the nicotine delivered to smokers increased by 14.5 percent.” Cigarette businesses have been loading cigarettes with chemical compounds. Bronchodilators were added so that tobacco smoke can more easily enter the lungs. Sugars, flavors, and menthol were increased to dull the harshness of smoke and make it easier to inhale. Ammonia was added so that nicotine travels to the brain faster. These chemicals can destroy your health permanently.
Smokers themselves wish they could quit. Do you know why they wish they could quit? It’s because they realize they made a mistake. They can barely quit though. Do you know why? Cigarettes carry high doses of nicotine that is highly addictive. Lydia Saad, a Gallup journalist, states, “Twenty-four percent of national adults told Gallup in a survey earlier this year that they smoke cigarettes, and 79% say they would like to give it up.” Cigarette smoke contains many dangerous chemicals, including tar, carbon monoxide, acetaldehyde, nitrosamines, nicotine, and more that is highly addictive. Robert N. Proctor, a BMJ journalist, states, “Cigarettes are very different from alcohol or even marijuana. Only about 10–15% of people who drink liquor ever become alcoholics, versus addiction rates of 80% or 90% for people who smoke.”
Most smokers want to give up and they know it can harm you, but it is too hard to give up. Cigarettes do carry high doses of nicotine which make smokers addicted very quickly, maybe, even on their first smoke. Smokers cannot give up smoking because they are hooked on it. They can’t stop. How can people who can’t live properly without just one cigarette live without them entirely? They either don’t want to stop or will want to stop, but it doesn’t matter. They will not be able to stop.
I know that it is hard to quit. I know that people cannot stop. But if we don’t want millions of people to die, we must ban smoking. Just one cigarette can ruin your life permanently. We cannot let people keep on dying and ruining their health. People are getting addicted to cigarettes and not even knowing until they end up with lung cancer or heart disease. Keeping cigarettes in people’s lives is the worst mistake this country can make. If we want to save lives and keep our country great, we must ban smoking.
About The Author
I feel so strongly about banning smoking because I have a personal connection. Both of my grandfathers died from smoking. One died before I was ever born. He died when he was only sixty years old. My other grandfather died when I was in first grade. I regret not spending enough time with him. I could have been with him more. But I also regret not being able to have even met my other grandfather. They were born roughly in the early 1900’s. They had no idea what harm smoking could have done because everyone smoked. We need to ban smoking to save lives. We cannot let people keep dying. We must ban smoking.