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Should Cigarettes Be Banned?

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Autor:   •  June 13, 2011  •  1,487 Words (6 Pages)  •  524 Views

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Tobacco smoking has been around since the Ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations. Although these civilizations did not invent the cigarette, they did smoke the dried up leaves of tobacco plants. Spanish explorers observed the use of the weed and shortly thereafter introduced it to Europe. Before the end of the 17th century, smoking had spread through most of the known world. Tobacco, native to North America, was cultivated in the Americas and transported to Europe. At first, tobacco was particularly expensive and only the wealthy Europeans could afford to buy it. Later in Brazil, cigarettes were invented and were first used in Latin America. It was not until the 19th century, when the automatic cigarette rolling machines were put into operation in the United States, that smoking became exceptionally popular. King James I of England recognized the threats of tobacco and battled against it. As a result, many countries outlawed tobacco for a period of time (Ward 20вЂ"21).

On January 1964, Luther L. Terry of the U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee issued the first report on Smoking and Health. In 1965, Congress adopted the federal cigarette labeling and advertising, which implanted the all too familiar labels on cigarette packs and asked for a yearly report on health consequences from smoking (Woznicki). On March 30, 2003 Bloomberg, mayor of New York, banned smoking in bars and restaurants throughout the state. A year later, 1,000 fewer deaths were reported as smoking-related. (Hill) On January of 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency declared secondhand smoking to be responsible for 3,000 deaths per year (Freeman 6-7). In response to these researches, many different cigarette techniques have been implemented through the years to include the “smokeless” Accord cigarette, the mainly-glycerin Eclipse cigarette, and the common cigarette people smoke every day, the “Charcoal Filter” cigarette (“Anatomy”).

Most smokers turn a blind-eye towards research and studies showing that diseases and smoking go hand in hand. Some smokers do not even know why, time and again, they light up these fuming time bombs, even when they are fully conscious of the health impediments brought on by cigarette. The answer is quite simple: Nicotine. Nicotine is carried to the brain via the bloodstream where it stimulates surrounding brain cells causing them to give off electrical impulses which trigger nearby cells. The outcome is the production of dopamine, a chemical messenger that links pleasure-regulating structures in the center of the brain to the higher areas behind the forehead that control conscious thought. The pleasure produced by dopamine is short-lasted but leaves a person wanting more of that pleasure. Although their conscious tells smokers that what they are doing is wrong, the brain’s mesolimbic reward system, which lets us feel pleasure when we eat, procreate, or socialize, tells them differently and does not obey to anything else. Dopamine originates in the brain’s ventral tegmental area, a group of dopamine-containing neurons, then travels to the nucleus accumbens, a tiny structure the size of a squished pea, and activates the amygdala, a structure vital for emotions and development of long-term memories. In 1995, researchers added nicotine to the list of dopamine-stimulating substances (Niiler 17-23)

In May 1998, a British journal called Nature stated that nicotine withdrawal “disrupts the reward system and may force smokers to light up again after trying to quit.” Dopamine levels in the brain rise when taking part in everyday pleasures such as eating chocolate, but when an addict drugs him or herself, dopamine levels rise up to 10 times higher as if a tsunami of dopamine had overcome one’s brain (Niiler 17-23).

Overtime, nicotine abuse may physically change the brain by reducing the amount of dopamine receptors. Edythe London of the National Institute on Drug Abuse observed that even the suggestion nicotine can trigger the brain’s reward system. (Niiler 17-23) Removing nicotine would not make them safe though since “cigarette smoke contains chemicals such as arsenic(poison), ammonia(toilet cleaner), carbon monoxide(car exhaust fumes), methane(swamp gas), a acetone(nail polish remover) and formaldehyde(used to preserve dead bodies), among thousands of” other chemicals. Yet, without nicotine a person would not become addicted to the cigarette and would not be pressured to smoke, therefore reducing the risk of dying from these other chemicals (Douglas 31-36). In a study using lab mice and heroin, nicotine, cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana, nicotine was the most addictive with 1/3 of the consumers becoming addicted (Niiler 17-23). After nicotine consumption through a cigarette, a smoker’s body’s heart speeds up fifteen - twenty-five beats per minute. Blood pressure goes up ten to twenty points. Circulation to extremities is cut down and therefore skin temperature drops up to six degrees. Hypothalamus curves cravings for food and muscles become more relaxed (Silverstein, Silverstein, Silverstein).

According to Silverstein, “nicotine works by mimicking the hormone adrenaline and the neurotransmitter acelthycholine, which activates the brain’s alarm system and causes the smoker to become alert.” Nicotine addictions control a smoker’s mood and cause a subtle high (Silverstein, Silverstein, Silverstein).

On February 28, 1994 a magazine show on ABC News aired an expose on the manipulation of nicotine by the tobacco companies. The shows

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