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Smokers or Non-Smokers Who’s More at Risk?

19 January 2009 No Comment

Smoking is possibly one the world’s oldest leisure activities and stress relievers since historians have dated the use of tobacco as early as the Mayan Empire (250-900 A.D) and it’s partial discovery by Columbus when he first landed on the new world. (Borio)  By early to mid 20th century, however, smoking cigarettes started showing its deceptive side to both smokers and non-smokers alike.  Although it would take years of research, thousands of reports and the constant battles between the courts and the tobacco, people were slowly beginning to know about the health risks of smoking cigarettes. The biggest question that surrounds smoking may be who was more at risk; those who smoked for 20-30 years or those who suffered form second-hand smoke for 20-30 years.

Though cigarettes are the most profitable commodity in the world due to its addictive nature, on the other hand it’s the most prolific reason why so many people have different forms of cancer, smoking mothers lose babies, and smokers paying a high financial price for their habit.   The 2004 report, “The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General,” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states  that smoking can cause cancer in the bladder, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx (voice box), esophagus, cervix, kidney, lung, pancreas, and stomach “New Surgeon General’s Report”. Now that’s ten different cancers a heavy smoker could get just by smoking cigarettes over a long period of time.  Yet, the most common form of cancer that most smokers get is lung cancer, due to the fact the smoke that gets inhaled builds up over time in a person’s lungs.  However, depending on a person’s body structure and how long a smoker has been smoking, it could take months to years for symptoms of lung cancer to develop.  Those symptoms include shortness of breath, chest or abdomen pain, chronic coughing to name a few “Symptoms of lung cancer”.

Although getting cancer is on the top of the list of health risks for smokers, the number two problem is for pregnant mothers who smoke and their unborn children.  Smoking mothers increase the chance they could lose the child anywhere from a few weeks into their pregnancy up to when their child is born “Women and Smoking”. Or some mothers could have problems conceiving altogether.  However, problems for the children skyrocket the moment they are conceived in their mother’s womb.  The problem that ranks number one is the fact they could die depending how much the mother smokes.  Though the odds are that children could develop normally from a mother’s womb to when they become adults are somewhat small, children who do survive the first nine months are in a high risk of complications developing over time, which include colds, bronchitis, and other respiratory diseases “Women and Smoking”.

Though people have to suffer through these problems as children and then as adults for the rest of their lives, the financial burdens for smokers are so heavy that during a smoker’s life time a smoker could be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that’s including buying the cigarettes and paying medical bills to keep themselves alive.  Based on a calculator program provided by www.cancer.org to show how much cigarettes would cost a person (I will be using myself as an example although I don’t smoke), lets say I started smoking at the age of 15 at $4.00 a pack and 20 cigarettes a day, in 10 years I would have spent about $16,196 for smoking.  That is a lot of money to be spending on something that will eventually kill me.  However, others are still susceptible to the health risks and financial costs of inhaling second hand smoke from those who they socialize with who do smoke, though it may take longer.

While non-smokers are saving that $16,196 from not buying cigarettes they still are susceptible to getting cancers, losing babies and paying for medical costs.  So how are non-smokers still susceptible all of those problems?  Simple, it is called second-hand or passive smoking.  There are two ways for a person to inhale the smoke either through the smoke coming from a lighted cigarette or the smoke that is exhale by the person smoking.  Although the only benefit non-smokers get from this is it takes longer for their bodies to develop the protection their body needs.  However, some non-smokers could develop symptoms quicker then others, it just depends how long a person has been exposed to the smoking. When it comes to second-hand smoke for mothers and children, second-hand smoke is as dangerous to the child in the womb as if the mother was smoking directly (Children and Secondhand Smoke).  Although the risks are still high in losing a child, the greater risks are the child’s development as he or she grows up; second-hand smoking can cause learning disabilites for the child such as reading and visual learning (Children and Secondhand Smoke).  Children could also develop the same problems children of smoking parents, such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and even low birth weight (Women and Smoking).  Non-smokers will be saving thousands of dollars by  not buying cigarettes, but in reality they will be spend even more then that from the medication, doctors and even respirators to help fight off whatever complications a smoker or non-smoker might have.  Though non-smokers will be the healthier of the two groups in the world of cigarettes and smoking, it still makes people wonder when people will realize that is bad for your health.

So who would be more at risk, the smokers or the non-smokers?  Both groups of people can suffer the same fates whether they know it or not.  A smoker could go through life and just suffer breathing problems while a non-smoker could have full blown lung cancer or visa versa.  I would say the non-smokers are more at risk because most of the time they are inevitably around smokers wherever they go and while smokers know the risks they have a hard time beating the addiction to those tobacco products they buy everyday.

Works Cited

Borio, Gene. “Tobacco Timeline.” 2005. 05 Mar. 2007 <www.tobacco.org/resources/history/Tobacco_History.html>.

“Calculate the Cost of Smoking.” Cancer.Org. 05 Mar. 2007 <www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/PED_10_cigCostCalc.asp>.

“Children and Secondhand Smoke.” www.entnet.org. 2007. 5 Mar. 2007 <http://www.entnet.org/healthinfo/tobacco/secondhand_smoke.cfm>.

“New Surgeon General’s Report Expands List of Diseases Caused by Smoking.”
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 27 May 2004. 5 Mar. 2007 <http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2004pres/20040527a.html>.

“Second-Hand Smoke: the Science.” No-Smoke.Org. Nov. 2006. 05 Mar. 2007
<www.no-smoke.org/>.

“What are the symptoms of lung cancer?” VCU Massey Cancer Center. 15 Dec. 2005.       05 Mar. 2007 <www.massey.vcu.edu/.>.

“Women and Smoking Fact Sheet.” American Lung Association. Mar. 2006. 5 Mar. 2007 <http://www.lungusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=33572>.

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