Live Another Day: Put down the cigarette and take a deep, clean breath

Morgan Mickavicz, Assist. Op Ed Editor

     In the past few weeks, I’ve seen several people in my community pass away from disease and other health-related issues. In the past few years, I’ve seen many people from my school, town, and family pass away from freak accidents, disease, and other causes. We have seen so many horrific terroristic acts recently that have resulted in many deaths and it seems like every day we are reminded how short life really is.

     So, why is it that there are still people who smoke cigarettes, essentially slowly killing themselves? Life is so short. Anything can happen to someone at any time; you never know when your last day will come. So would you speed up the process of dying by sticking something that causes cancer between your lips and breathe it into your lungs?

     The National Cancer Institute (NCI) states that “smoking is a leading cause of cancer and death from cancer.” Their website also explains that though the average number of cigarettes smoked by a smoker has decreased, the likelihood that someone will develop lung cancer has increased. So, despite the fact that fewer cigarettes are being smoked, the chance of developing lung cancer if you smoke is high. NCI states that cigarettes cause many more types of cancers than that of the lungs; smoking also causes esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, cervical, colon, and rectal [cancer] as well as acute myeloid leukemia.

     Smoking can also lead to a multitude of other health issues like “heart disease, stroke, aortic aneurysm…, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, age-related muscular degeneration, and cataracts, and worsens asthma symptoms in adults,” as well as puts smokers at a higher risk to develop pneumonia tuberculosis, and lowers immune functions per NCI. About 1 in every 5 deaths in the US is caused by smoking per The American Cancer Society. Their website also states that smoking affects every major organ in the body, not just one’s lungs. They also claim that smoking shortens male’s lives by 12 years and female’s by 11. Life is already too short.

     With those facts out there, it is hard to imagine why still 13 percent of 18-24-year-olds, 17 percent of 25-44-year-olds, and 17% percent of 45-64-year-olds smoke, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yes, these numbers are lower than they were in the past, before we knew about the adverse effects of tobacco on humans. However, with all the information that is known about the illnesses and death resulting from cigarettes, one would think that almost nobody would smoke cigarettes, yet they do.

     The higher numbers of adults aged 45 and older does not surprise me as much as the younger generations’ smoking statistics. There was not as much information out when older individuals started to smoke as there is now. cites that 90 percent of smokers started before the age of 19. So those who smoke that are now middle-aged probably began smoking in a time where there was not a lot of information about how dangerous smoking cigarettes can be and what was known was not broadcast as it is now through PSA’s and education. Smoking is highly addictive, which is a not pass for middle-aged people to continue smoking, but it makes sense that their numbers of smokers are higher than young people. However, the number of millennial smokers is not much less than that of older generations and the 13 percent of 18-24-year-olds who smoke have grown up in a world that denounces smoking, plasters PSA’s on TV, park benches, buses, etc. and where the adverse effects of tobacco are clearly known. So, what is their excuse?

     There is none. With all the violence existing in our world, the high instances of disease and both accidental and unwarranted deaths, nobody should shorten their already short life by smoking cigarettes. To the older generations, I know quitting smoking is hard, but try. I remember learning in my 7th grade health class, as we looked at an image of blackened lungs, that your body begins to repair itself just five minutes after smoking a cigarette. Save yourself from disease and potential death and save your friends and family from it too.  And young people, stop right now or never start. We know how harmful cigarettes are to our bodies. We are young and able people with futures ahead of ourselves, we cannot throw it away for a stick of nicotine. Too many people undeservedly get ill and die, are killed in freak accidents, or horrifically lose their lives in unjust acts. Do not jeopardize the already short life you are given for an overpriced carton of cigarettes.

Morgan is a Secondary Education and English major. She is she Vice President of College Republicans and Assistant Editor for The Voice.