Smoking: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
When it comes to smoking, most of us know that it is dangerous for the brain and horrible for the body. So why do 40% of Americans take part in this activity every day? How can a person look someone in the eye, and sell them the obvious destruction of their body in a cute little box or plastic bag? Since smoking cigarettes and smoking marijuana are basically one in the same, and 1 out of every 3 people smoke cigarettes, it’s not hard for young teenagers and even some adults to get into the addiction of drugs. The fact is that as long as marijuana is illegal and cigarettes are not, the government will continue to send mixed messages to the citizens of this country.
Nowadays, when it comes to recreational drugs, there are plenty of options and plenty of ways to get them, but no one seems to know, or care about the effects these drugs are having on your brain and body. Thomas Jefferson once said "If we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion by education" (Fitzgerald, 30). So let me enlighten you. Each day over 6,000 Americans will try marijuana for the very first time. Studies done by Karen Stephenson show that the short-term dangers of marijuana are impaired memory, inability to learn, difficulties in thinking and problem solving, distorted perception, and anxiety attacks or feelings of paranoia. They also show that the long-term effects are permanent deterioration of the brain, suppression in the production of hormones that help regulate the reproductive system, increase in the risk of heart attack, and it badly affects the immune system. Why anyone would willingly endanger their body this way, I’ll never understand. Sure, it’s a cheap way to make sure your night is fun and full of entertainment, but a few hours of fun a couple times adds up, and results in the inevitable destruction of your body in the future. As dangerous as marijuana is for you, did you know that smoking is twice as bad? Dr. Joel Dunnington has proven that tobacco causes about 435,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Another 174,000 smokers will die from heart disease, and 143,000 will die from different cancers (83,000 will die from lung cancer alone), also 26,000 will die from strokes. Smoking also causes Emphysema, which is when the bronchial tubes become inflamed or irritated and produce too much mucus that blocks the tubes causing an uncontrollable cough. There is no cure for Emphysema. Just one cigarette contains acetone, aluminum, ammonia, arsenic, benzene, butane, cadmium, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, chloroform, cyanide, ethanol, hydrogen cyanide, lead, methanol, nicotine, tar, and vinyl chloride. One cigarette takes off eleven minutes of your life, so I believe that if marijuana is going to be illegal, then cigarettes should be too.
Believe it or not, there are some positive effects that come with smoking marijuana or cigarettes. Marijuana works well as a treatment for pain, nausea, and appetite loss caused by AIDS. It also acts as a sedative and reduces anxiety. Studies by Anahad O’Connor show that the lungs of a smoker perform better in certain tests than the lungs of a non-smoker, but Dr. Stefan Kertesz says, “Even with this tiny increase in airflow, I have to admit that I really doubt that there’s any real increase in lung health”. Even though it can be helpful, there are still other drugs that are proven to have the same effect, but are less harmful and addictive; also, the tests performed were all short term tests, because the longer you smoke, the more destruction your lungs will have to endure. Studies done by Christopher Wanjek have proven that cigarettes improve short-term concentration, attention and memory, and also help in the reduction in the risk of knee replacement surgery, obesity, and Parkinson’s disease. Even if cigarettes can help with these minor issues, there are much simpler methods to stay focused. Simply eating a healthy breakfast and getting a good night’s rest will give you plenty of energy and concentration to get you through the day, also, just generally taking good care of your body is a great way to keep your body in tip top shape. The fact of the matter is you can’t fix a bad habit by using another bad habit. Theses “positive effects” is just an excuse to talk other people into joining this unhealthy epidemic.
Now that you are fully aware of what recreational drugs and cigarettes can do, there is no excuse for you to become involved in either of these activities. If you choose to, then there is no one to blame but yourself for what happens to your body. Consider yourself warned. Don’t cut your life short to “live in the moment”. Be smart, and stay healthy.