Should Tobacco Companies be Held Responsible for Smoking-Related Illnesses and Deaths
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Tobacco companies count in the list of among the most successful conglomerates all over the globe in their businesses of selling tobacco products. There has been an increasing emergence of tobacco companies selling a wide range of tobacco products in several states. This has seen tobacco business to be multinational trade contributing significant revenues to governments and providing an enormous employment capacity. Tobacco is an agricultural product that is processed from leaves of the tobacco plant, Nicotiana tobacuum (Steinmetz, 3).
Tobacco has a lot of uses ranging from medicinal uses to agricultural applications as an organic pesticide when converted into nicotine tartrate. The invention of tobacco led to the discovery of cigarettes which became the most conventional way of consuming tobacco. Tobacco smoking involves burning of tobacco products and inhaling the smoke. Sometimes, tobacco users chew tobacco leaves to experience their expected euphoric feeling (Steinmetz, 6). Generally, smoking kills almost half of the smoker’s population and causes serious addiction because of its component, nicotine.
The smokers therefore get hooked and fail to stop smoking. The effects of tobacco smoking are very devastating. There is a recent heated debate if the tobacco manufacturing companies should be the ones to blame for the disastrous diseases and deaths that tobacco smoking has caused to many individuals in the world. Unless there are critical evidences to show that tobacco companies are directly responsible for the increasing numbers of illnesses and deaths, the blames on these companies should stop and refrain from painting a black image about tobacco companies; instead, individual smokers are to blame (Steinmetz, 71).
History The history of tobacco smoking can be traced back to 5000-3000 BC immediately after the agricultural product began to be grown in South America (Steinmetz, 3). It was like a new substance drug and as time passed on, different and more advanced products of tobacco began to be produced. At the same time, many other ways of consuming tobacco were devised apart from just smoking it. In many ancient religious societies like the Babylonians, Indians and even the Chinese used to burn tobacco incense as one of their religious rituals.
This was also later adopted by the Israelites and other orthodox and catholic denominations. The history of tobacco smoking in America can be traced to have begun from the burning of incense in the religious rituals and later adopted to smoking for pleasure and also as a tool in sociology (Steinmetz, 6). In the eastern part of North America, most individuals used to carry bulk amounts of tobacco in their traveling bags as an item for trade. Tobacco attracted significant sales and brought good returns to the sellers. Further still, tobacco could be smoked in pipes in ceremonies that were regarded as sacred (Steinmetz, 8).
Tobacco smoking and the use of other various hallucinogenic drugs were believed to achieve dreams and make one be in contact with the world of spirits. Many believed that tobacco was a gift from the creator and smoking tobacco could carry ones thoughts and even prayers to heaven. Tobacco in the historical times could also be used as medicine. As a pain killer, it could relieve on from pain such as toothache or earache. On the other hand, Indians used tobacco in treating cold symptoms more so when mixed with leaves of desert sage.
Apart from treating cold symptoms, tobacco was popularly known to cure asthma and tuberculosis. This usage was later proved by scientific means as tobacco enhanced the opening of the airways when used in low doses (Cunningham, 5). John Rolfe was the first settler in the American land to grow tobacco as a cash crop (Borio). With his successful introduction, tobacco gained popularity and its demand significantly increased. In all the tobacco farms, indentured servitude was the primary source of labor and this led to the expansion of tobacco production in the west.
With the colonization era, slaves used to offer labor in the tobacco farms. With time it was realized that slaves did not bring in the profits as was expected. However, in 1794, with the invention of the cotton gin, tobacco production increased again (Steinmetz, 16). Jean Nicot, a Frenchman whose second name is named nicotine, the active and addictive chemical compound in tobacco helped to introduce tobacco farming in France (Steinmetz, 27). This happened in 1560 and later spread to England. Tobacco with other intoxicants like opium, tea and even coffee, were widely used as medicine (Steinmetz, 34).
Tobacco production and farming spread to various parts of the world, Africa included. This was also enhanced by the Trans Saharan trade caravans that helped in spreading the fame of Tobacco. Tobacco therefore became so popular impacting the society in diverse ways. One of the negative effects of tobacco was the disregard to morals as some critics observed. Therefore, some individuals started advocating for the banning of the product. In china, the use of tobacco was banned in 1590 by King James VI of Scotland. The king also increased the taxes by 4,000 percent (Gupta, Hammer, & Murti, 243).
Statistics and Facts When it comes to statistics, tobacco smoking has shocking facts that raise alarm in all social life aspects. Currently, there are 1. 1 billion smokers worldwide and it is expected that if the ongoing trend continues, the number will exceed 1. 6 billion in the year 2025(Western pacific Region). For instance in China, the number of tobacco smokers has tolled to 300million. In a year 1. 7 trillion cigarettes are sold in China and in a minute, 3 million cigarettes are consumed (Western pacific Region).
This news is really shocking and it depicts how tobacco smoking has been so rampant all over the globe. In a minute, 10 million sticks of tobacco cigarettes are consumed in the whole world (Western pacific Region). In a year, over 5 trillion cigarettes are produced (Smokingstatistics. com). In every cigarette, there is about 300 grams of nicotine, the compound that causes addiction in humans (Smokingstatistics. com). While this is very harmful to human body, humans only take a small fraction in the event of smoking and the rest of the nicotine burns.
In the future, tobacco is expected to claim more than 1 billion lives per annum in case serious anti smoking regulations are not made. Tobacco smoking offers a great deal of adverse effects to a human life. It makes the life of an individual to be like that of a slave, one that host chronic diseases and even death. In the United States, approximately 24. 8 million men and 21. 1 million women smoke tobacco (Smokingstatistics. com). This is about 23. 1% and 18. 3% of the total American population of men and women respectively where most of the smokers are 18 years and above (Smokingstatistics. com).
In the year 2008, 23. 5% of men and 20. 6% of women among the whites smoke tobacco (Western pacific Region). The figures among the blacks reveal that 25. 6% of men and 17. 8% of women smoke tobacco (Smokingstatistics. com). This is the general worldwide statistics of the total population that smoke tobacco in the U. S. Tobacco smoking is an increasing problem among the adults. It is noted that one starts to smoke at the beginning of adolescence and with time one gets used to smoking and becomes an addict. Products of tobacco have been in demand and they have been made available everywhere in the whole world.
Selling of cigarettes is so common even in the vehicles; they are readily available for their consumers. Once one has become an addict, even if he or she is aware of the adverse effects, he or she finds it so hard to quit smoking. As time goes on, the consumption of tobacco through cigarettes has been increasing by each day. This has really raised alarm and the question on who to blame has never been answered. Some blame it on the companies producing tobacco products and on the other hand some say it is the choice of an individual to smoke or not to smoke.
Tobacco products are of so many varieties and each contains a different quantity of nicotine and used differently. For instance, cigarettes that are manufactured from cured tobacco leaves are finely cut and packaged and smoked. Electronic cigarettes consist of another type of cigarettes but do not contain any tobacco in them. Tobacco can also be chewed but this is not so common. Nowadays, even children envy smoking not knowing the effects that are associated with it. Effects Of Tobacco Smoking Tobacco smoking and use pose a number of effects to the human health.
Some have regarded smoking to be the slow form of suicide as it is known to kill whoever who constantly smokes without quitting smoking. One of the effects of smoking is that it increases an individual’s mortality and reduces the lifespan. Lifespan is the length of an individual’s life. Averagely, women who smoke lose approximately 14. 5 years and male lose 13. 2 years of their life (Smokingstatistics. com). Anyone who smokes always dies some years earlier than the expected time, this is due to a lot of nicotine in the body that slows the functionalism of many body organs and what results is death.
Another effect of tobacco is that it causes chronic diseases like cancer. The smoke contains carcinogenic compounds that cause cancer. There are so many types of cancer and smoking causes cancers such as lung cancer, breast cancer, esophagus and pancreases cancer, cancer of the larynx and head and neck, gall bladder cancer, adrenal gland cancer and many more others. There are increased chances of an individual with cancer dying earlier than expected. Cancer causes the body a lot of pain and drains the finances and all savings. This is because cancer care and treatment is often expensive.
The stigma from cancer results when one learns that cancer is not treatable and smokers often suffer the risk of dying from cancer before the age of 85 and the cancer attack probability is 1. 1% for male individuals (Smokingstatistics. com). For a female smoker, she has a probability of 0. 8% of dying from cancer before the age of 85 (Smokingstatistics. com). Controversies on Holding Tobacco Companies Responsible for Tobacco-related Deaths and Illnesses There have been a number of reasons to support and to be against the blame on tobacco companies on the adverse effects of tobacco on human beings.
Many see it without sense to blame the companies since they are just doing business like any other while on the other hand, some say the blame is on the individuals who smoke since it is a choice they have made by themselves. Someone goes further to give the instance of a pedophile who entices his prey with a bag of sweets. The pedophile is guilty and not the kid. In the same instance, cigarette companies con their prey by glamorous advertising (Blanke & Costa, 241). Therefore the difference between the two issues can be difficult to understand and judge. Tobacco companies are not responsible
Tobacco companies do not stand any chance to be blamed solely for the adverse effects of tobacco. These companies have been accused for these blames but they have always taken the defense side. All tobacco companies have worked hand in hand with governments in their areas of jurisdiction to ensure that tobacco business has succeeded. Therefore one can argue that the tobacco companies should not take the blame by themselves but the government for their failure to ban the product. Had the government issued a ban on the product, then it could not be sold in the market and thus there would have been no need to blame the companies.
The companies are not to blame for the choices people make in their lives. Everyone who smokes makes a choice to do so. There is a warning on every tobacco product meant to warn the user that tobacco is harmful to the health of an individual. It should be a call on the adults who have normal senses and yet keep blaming the companies for the consequences of their actions to be reasonable and accept that they are paying for their actions (Steinmetz, 71). There should be no company to blame for the adverse effect of the tobacco products since they are just like an intermediary between the producers, who are farmers and the consumers.
This implies that even if the tobacco companies could not be there, tobacco could still be there and its effects could still be in existence. Even in the modern days, tobacco is smoked in crude form without processing. This same crude tobacco has the similar addictive effect and causes cancers and deaths just like the processed tobacco products. Therefore, there is no need to keep on blaming the tobacco companies for the increased tobacco-related deaths and illnesses. Tobacco companies play a significant role in earning the governments enormous revenues in tobacco producing countries (Blanke & Costa, 238).
Tobacco companies make huge profits and everyone who attached to these companies benefits in diverse ways. Much of the government revenue comes from the businesses that take place within the boundaries of the countries. Like in the western countries, where there are many multinational companies, they happen to be very rich and all these returns are got from the taxes the companies pay in order to have their products sold. Tobacco companies boasts in the amount of taxes it contributes to governments hence earning states a lot of revenues.
No wonder tobacco selling has ever been legalized despite its adverse effects on human life. It is the individuals to blame for their actions. When an individual decides to smoke, it is his or her money that is being spent for the purpose of smoking. There is not even one company which offers its products for free, because had it been so, then everyone could have been smoking. Most of these products are sold at a price. The society should just come into terms with its actions and stop blaming the companies that manufacture tobacco products.
Smoking is often perceived as a lack of discipline and a weakness in humans but smokers make their informed choices to use tobacco products. It is the same humans to blame for any effects that tobacco causes them and not the companies (Blanke & Costa, 242). A Few Blames for Tobacco Companies In the 19th century, the warnings on the tobacco products never existed. This was the time one could have the audacity to sue the tobacco companies for not putting warning messages on the packs.
Critics have also been keen to identify that the warning messages indicated on the packages are often written in very small fonts so as only keen ones are able to see it. Because of this, critics argue that tobacco companies should have some deal on the blame. Tobacco producing companies know very well the harm their products can cause to the human body but they have gone further increasing the quantity produced each day and this has always caused more havoc to the members of the society. Warnings play significant role in the prevention of smoking and the ultimate prevention of seriousness illnesses and deaths caused by smoking.
With warning from doctors and other health officials, people make choices to quit smoking. Tobacco companies may be held responsible for intentionally selling the addictive substance, nicotine. It is clear that tobacco has caused deaths and it is still causing deaths in every second that passes by (Cunningham, 8). All these have been due to the constant use of tobacco products despite even measure from the medical practitioners to individuals who are suffering from smoking related diseases. The smokers can’t help it: they are addicted.
This makes critics to argue that the blame should not be on the people but on the tobacco producing companies for their selling of a highly addictive substance (Cunningham, 9). Tobacco products contain nicotine in large quantities. Nicotine consumption is very poisonous and addictive and it makes one to take it every day (Cunningham, 11). Other controversial findings that were made in history by Dr. Hassal include the adulteration of tobacco by the makers (Steinmetz, 69). Dr. Hassal detected a number of poisonous elements that were feloniously added to tobacco.
These elements included umber, yellow and red ochre, iron oxides, potash dichromate, silica and lead chromates (Steinmetz, 73) Tobacco companies can also be blamed for the measure they have not taken in reducing the addictive effect on tobacco products. It is evident that most of the modern smokers start to smoke at a very tender age. This time one is not really aware of the effects of smoking tobacco or even its addictive nature. Such people go on smoking in their lives and when they reach the maturity age, one gets to know the full effects of smoking tobacco.
Quitting is another tragedy. It becomes so hard to leave using the tobacco products and thus the person ends up using them and he or she suffers the consequences that range from cancer to death. It therefore may seem to be a blame for the tobacco companies since they have failed to educate members of the society on the effects of tobacco smoking before they get deeply rooted to it. But to what extent have they failed. The information contained on the packs is never misleading (Blanke & Costa, 242).
In conclusion, there is only one way to help stop the argument or rather debate over who is to blame for the effects of tobacco consumption. The states should issues a complete ban on the consumption of tobacco. This will really help the health of millions of individuals in the whole world who are suffering from addictions of these tobacco products. If it is a matter of blame, the tobacco companies and the individuals themselves are to blame for the effects of the product. But in real sense, it is the individual who decides what he or she does with his or her life.
However, it may not be the case to blame the tobacco companies every time because everyone who has senses should not start consuming a product without being aware of how sweet it can get or how bitter it is. People usually start to smoke at the age of 16 and above. Not a single individual among the smokers is ignorant of the effects of smoking tobacco. These effects of smoking tobacco are known to everyone and therefore let people stop being escapists and let them face the consequences of their actions.
It is entirely the blame on the individuals themselves for deciding to smoke or otherwise. The event of starting smoking tobacco, getting addicted, deciding whether to stop of keep smoking despite the effects on an individual body is all about making choices. Therefore it would sound irrelevant to put the blame on the company when it was not at any point involved in any decision making process. The individual is to blame and not the tobacco companies for the effects that succumb them.