The new anti-smoking legislation is a very important issue with both public and private implications. While many argue that smoking is an individual right, others insist that the danger posed to the public outweighs smokers’ civil liberties.
Tobacco, the main cash crop of the founding fathers, was so fundamental to our economy that tobacco leaves can be found carved into historic buildings around the Capitol. But that was then and this is now. Now we understand the meaning of carcinogens.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Cigarettes contain at least 250 chemicals known to be toxic or carcinogenic. Smoking tobacco has been determined to cause cancer of the lung, urinary bladder, renal pelvis, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, lip and pancreas in humans. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of all human lung cancers are attributed to tobacco smoking.”
Second-hand smoke releases at least 50 carcinogens into the atmosphere and also causes genetic damage. “Increased concentrations of mutagens have been found in the urine of humans exposed to environmental tobacco smoke,” says NIH.
This law allows the FDA to reduce nicotine in tobacco products, ban candy flavorings (aimed at children) and block labels such as “low tar” and “light.” Tobacco companies also will be required to add large graphic warnings on their packaging. The law also constrains marketing campaigns, especially those geared toward children.
“Today’s signing culminates an effort of more than a decade to regulate a rogue industry whose business is addiction," said Daniel E. Smith, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. "Every day, 3,500 children pick up their first cigarette and 1,000 children become addicted smokers. This law will help to reduce youth smoking and help save lives."
I hope that someday this “land of the free” is free of cancer.