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Tobacco use has become a popular pastime in our country. While there are many justified uses for which people elect to smoke or chew it, the health risks outweigh all benefits that people may experience. This research assignment is going to discuss both sides of this issue in a non-biased manner.
Tobacco use has become a well-renown habit, favored by many of our ancestors and many of our closest friends and family members even today. Many people who feel the need to engage in tobacco use are addicts, many of whom claim to be fully aware of the nature of their addiction. What’s more, many of those who begin smoking often do so in their adolescence, before they have the opportunity to be properly taught about the detrimental health effects that tobacco use yields. Smoking has gotten to a point in society where many people who have found themselves hooked are exploring approaches which may make it easier for them to give up their habit. The fact that this also applies to even the youngest of smokers, many of whom are not even of the legal age to begin using tobacco, are among these groups. (Mason, et. al., 2015)
This assignment is going to delve deeper into the reasons that people decide to use (and continue to use) tobacco products, and why the commonly known health effects don’t seem to alleviate individual use altogether in many cases. While this popular pastime has been seen to resonate with feelings and smells of nostalgia, has been claimed to reduce levels of anxiety, and has been an effective means of population control, the health effects have been clearly demonstrated over the course of many studies throughout the 20th century. While one might argue that multiple deaths are simply a means of tobacco companies taking advantage of natural selection and addictive tendencies in the feeble-minded, the effects and the fact that they are well-known in this day and age almost make any negative health effects acquired by frequent tobacco users well-deserved. Still, the addictive nature of such products traps such users in a cycle that becomes very difficult to break. This, above all other adverse effects, perhaps make tobacco use particularly dangerous. If people use something on a daily basis even though they know it is slowly killing them and making it even harder for them to break free from, they experience very little hope in regards to ever being able to quit. In the event that they are able to abstain from taking part in their vice, they may have to suffer the consequences of their years-long habit. In many cases, these consequences get so severe that they essentially force tobacco users to either quit or die at the hands of their vice.
While this habit has become universally accepted as a hazardous and disgusting one, many people still participate in it. Even those who find themselves abusing tobacco products for years on end realize that they no longer feel the same effects that they did when they first started smoking. They realize that it is taking a toll on their physical health and is, in fact, slowly killing them. (Christopoulou & Lillard, 2016) Still, the physical and psychological dependency on their bad habit makes them feel as if they “need” their cigarettes or chewing tobacco to cope with these symptoms, let alone everyday life. The dependency on tobacco products has become even more evident today as former smokers find themselves switching to modernized e-cigarettes, expecting them to relieve them of any adverse health effects that their former vice induced. While the nicotine may be taking a different form with a more pleasant taste and fragrance, this new vice yields a whole new series of negative health effects, thus not truly eliminating all of the problems that eliminating smoking or chewing from one’s lifestyle would. (Callahan-Lyon, 2014)
Even non-habitual tobacco users find themselves in a position to justify their use. This can also be said for addicts who are not yet ready to deal with their addiction, or else are not aware of it. Many people see it as a therapeutic outlet that lets them blow off steam and decrease their anxiety levels. In a sense, they are correct in making this assumption. While nicotine does possess some calming properties, the addicting nature of them outweighs the benefits and makes it difficult for the user to not have to rely upon its usage. Moreover, may people who find themselves abusing tobacco products for extended periods of time (often years at a time) experience increased levels of anxiety and sensitivity. This increases in those who finally opt to seek treatment after extensive usage, particularly when they are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. (Zvolensky, et. al, 2014)
This same concept can be applied to long-term abusers of illicit drugs or alcohol as well. Many new smokers may not have been habitual tobacco smokers when they were drunk or smoking meth on a regular basis. Due to the psychological and physical effects that many other vices induce, many former users might find cigarettes more appealing. (Apollonio, Bero, Phillips, 2016) Even those who experience lesser, but similar, symptoms related to those of prolonged chemical dependency, might find the stress-reducing qualities of cigarettes and tobacco appealing. A study has shown that those with an attention deficit disorder (ADHD) or those experiencing similar symptoms tend to be drawn to cigarette smoking. (Schoenfelder, Faraone, Kollins, 2016) Those with mental disorders may perceive the consequences of cigarette smoking differently than that of the mainstream population, especially if the effects of nicotine do something for their condition. Those with Schizophrenia tend to perceive the negative health effects of cigarette smoking differently when posed with a program designed to help ordinary people quit smoking. (Kowalczyk, et. al, 2016) Even those who are fully aware of the fact that they are slowly killing themselves may find death to be a more favorable option than to suffer the never-ending mental conditions that plague them on a daily basis, much a like a tobacco addiction.
Since people in stressful situations are often the ones who find cigarette use so appealing, they tend to be the ones who find themselves in a very hard-to-break cycle. Many members of military personnel have claimed that they “need” to smoke cigarettes in order to fit in and complete their work in an adequate manner. (Smith & Malone, 2014) These are among the most popular reasons for which people typically pick up tobacco use in the first place. Many people rationalize starting a habit with peer pressure, as they will feel inferior to their peers who are engaging in the same activity. Over time, this habit becomes less about fitting in than it does with being able to cope with the inevitable stressful situations that life throws at us regularly. Still, many who find themselves giving into this addiction for years experience and are well-aware of the detrimental effects on their health that their vice is having. The ability to cope with stress and anxiety with a familiar habit might seem more appealing than taking care of one’s body.
Personally, I find it very difficult to explore a “good” and “bad” side of this issue. While tobacco use may have the illusion of seeming glamorous and stress-relieving, enough knowledge has been shared regarding the issue that make the health risks very evident. Furthermore, many people who smoke find themselves experiencing these very effects. Even then, not all of these people commit to giving up their habit. While it is a rather morbid outlook to have, it is easy to acknowledge the positive aspects that these deadly and seemingly relaxing effects may have on those who do not care enough about their health to seek remedial action. Moreover, the popular status of the tobacco industry is contributing to population control by getting poorly disciplined, uneducated, and apathetic individuals hooked on their products, thus promoting survival of the fittest. Personally, I do not believe that this makes these products “good”, just practical.
Since many of us are aware of the cancer-inducing and anxiety-causing properties (among countless others) that tobacco use has been scientifically proven to entail, I consider myself to be very much against tobacco use. Many people who feel like they are receiving a temporary release from their problems, or at least a way to make them “feel better”, will most likely come to notice that the permanent effects are often difficult to stray from, thus making it more probable that long-term users become susceptible to health problems later down the road. Many people who successfully give up tobacco use tend to notice a tremendous change in the condition of their health and happiness. As such, I am naturally inclined to see any positive sides of tobacco use (at least as it is used by most people) to be nothing more than an illusion and an effective means of controlling a decent-sized demographic of people while profiting off of them. To some cigarette smokers, death may seem promising. However, it is very rare to meet a smoker (or anyone, for that matter) with this type of attitude, and it is plain to see that the health risks associated with tobacco use are very real. As such, I would say that it is very likely that many users are not in favor of their own vice.
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