Clearing the Smoke with Education

Do you want to die? Do you want your children to experience early deaths? These questions run through my mind every time I witness people puffing away on their cigarettes. It genuinely hurts me to see parents smoking around their children. As if this isn”t enough to promote smoking among the young, there are a number of other elements that encourage them to smoke. As one writer explains, “They”ve learned from movies and advertising that smoking makes them more mature and sophisticated” (Chen 29).
They would look anything but sophisticated lying in the morgue with family and friends hovering over, grieving. This case is closed! The cause of death is lung cancer at age 35. Also as another writer states, “Recently tobacco companies have found new ways to promote their products to youth. They support their sporting events and concerts, and even give them discounts on hip clothing” (Schwartz). We, the people, need to come up with a sensible solution on how to cut down on cigarette smoking amongst the young and old. There are many sensible solutions that could be tried.
We could always pass a law stating complete prohibition of tobacco products, but as we look back at the 18th Amendment, prohibition of alcohol, that may not be such a wise choice. Some may say that prohibition should be passed on tobacco products because they are un-nutritional. That statement is a farce! This couldn”t be passed as a general rule because “… there”s absolutely no nutritional reason for adding salt to food, or consuming beer, whiskey, butter, potato chips, and candy… ” (Williams 35). My view is if prohibition were to pass, that”s fine, but we should brace ourselves for a new generation for Al Capones.

This is why it is time to take the initiative to educate our selves and the younger generation on the harmfulness of tobacco products. First of all, I think everyone has the common knowledge that “tobacco products are harmful”(Bowles 32). So why do people use them? The first puff of a cigarette is usually the result of curiosity or, perhaps, peer pressure when talking about a group of teenagers. I am challenging you to go out and ask as many regular smokers as you can if they read the Surgeon General warning on the back of a pack of cigarettes. I wish you luck in trying to find someone who will respond positively.
So really people have no true knowledge about tobacco other than what is told to them. If people listen when they are told that tobacco products are harmful, maybe if we dig deeper and pull out specific consequences and real life stories, smokers would truly understand the danger they are in. As writer, Sally Chen states, the biggest danger would be “… how hard it is to stop once you”ve started” (Chen 29). Chen also shares the thought that “[Tobacco is] an addictive drug that not only harms the user but everyone else through secondary smoke” (30).
Also, because tobacco products are extremely un-nutritional, if we help to lower the amount of smokers, we will help to lower health care costs. This aspect of saving money is one that everyone would embrace! Perhaps if we educate people they will never start, hence avoiding the danger of addiction. Unfortunately, I will admit that there are hills to climb before we can start this education process. First, will people listen? Educating children wouldn”t be as difficult has educating adults. With children we could incorporate smoking education into their everyday schooling where they are forced to listen or they fail.
I am proposing that there should be in depth information presented to the children about the consequences of smoking. For example, when I took a chemistry course, my instructor would preach on how careful you had to be when working with chemicals. He would use real life stories to explain what happens when we misuse the chemicals. A lot of the time I was terrified to use some of these chemicals for fear of getting burned or going blind. If we do the same when educating people about smoking, we may get somewhere in the fight to decrease the percentage of people who do smoke.
We have to understand that we cannot make anyone listen, but if a child fails the course, it will be repeated until the child passes. When the child passes, it signifies that they know the information and, hopefully, that it sunk in. Some may argue that this “un-important” subject could take away from other school subjects. Let me ask you this, does learning about the human body in health class take away from other subjects. Or how about the learning of alcohol when taking a Safety Ed course? When you look at this objection as a whole, there are really no downsides to this option.
However, it can be extremely beneficial. Sure, children need to pay attention to their English and Math courses, but will they be able to use them in the future if they are lying in a hospital bed with emphysema? I don”t think so. Incorporating smoking education into the everyday health classes is not a hazard, but rather a swift start to a smoke free America. However, with adults it may not be this easy. You cannot make adults come to school, as you can with children. Adults have to want to be educated in order to be educated.
Newspaper advertisements are a good way to present the hazards of smoking. Catchy headlines and striking attention getters are a requirement if we want adults to read more than the first line. There could be advertisements posting dates and times on classes where you can go and learn about the effects of smoking. These classes are for people who want to quit, which is why newspaper articles are needed to make people think twice about smoking. Television commercials or, perhaps, infomercials are other alternatives to getting the public”s attention.
Once people begin to understand what smoking is really about, if they are smart, they will want to quit. Another question that may arise is where are we going to get the money to fund these classes? Money isn”t a problem when smoking classes are being taught in the schools. Nothing changes in that sense. As for funding outside of school classes, such as those available to adults, there are some simple solutions to raising money. Getting support from larger anti-smoking organizations is always a plus and sometimes they will even provide donations to organizations that they find to be beneficial to people.
Another way to raise money is through fundraisers. Setting up walk-a-thons and other health related events is always a good way to raise money, and it”s also a good way to make your organization well known. Putting taxes on cigarettes is not an option that should be forgotten. There are copious ways that these classes can be funded, so there is no ned for it to be made into a major issue. Education is a positive solution in preventing smoking among all age groups. If people are properly educated, the end result should be rewarding.
As smoking decreases from generation to generation, the health of the American people will increase and life expectancies may rise also. Being human myself, I know that people will listen, as long as they are not forced to, for “… mankind always struggles to be free” (Bowles 33). We need to approach this problem with gentleness, but with confidence that we can prevent the smoking problem from becoming bigger. The goal here is to help people enjoy long, healthy lives. Use your right to choose wisely, because you have the right to live!

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