Lighting up

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Cigarette smoking is the greatest single cause of illness and premature death in the United Kingdom. About 100,000 people in Britain die annually due to smoking. These statistics may sound life threatening but they represent the grim reality as far as smoking is concerned. Fortunately, some people have begun to realize the seriousness of the matter and are on their way to quit smoking-yet there are those who linger on the decision to quit or not. Well the decision is one’s. Smoking might have sounded cool in the olden days but with the growing public sensitization on the risks of the same, people have had to reconsider their perspective on the whole issue-at least- for the sake of their health and lives.

Public sensitization has taken different shapes and forums but the most effective ones have been the media and especially the new media, the internet. One such website dedicated to the welfare of kids and teens is the Kids Health Organization website accessible at http://kidshealth.org/teen/drug_alcohol/tobacco/smoking.html and was last reviewed in March 2010 by Larissa Hirsch. This site has contents on a number of contentious issues in the contemporary society like drugs and alcohol, diseases and control, infections, school life and jobs, food and fitness, sexual health, recipes and expert answers for these and other life issues. It is therefore almost by default that it has a number of articles dedicated to advising the teens on smoking.

The article is a written is audience oriented and therefore evades all that medical jargon and is straight to the point. It is a three-paged but this does not mean it leaves anything to chance as far as unraveling the dire reality of smoking. In deed, it leaves nothing to chance. Its scope includes but not limited to the dangers of smoking including diseases that are smoking-related, alternative smoking or what is popularly known as second-hand smoking as well as smoking related topics such as how to deal with addiction, the interrelation between smoking and asthma, the so-called smokeless tobacco and advice on how to quit smoking (p 1).

The article begins on a rather obvious assumption that all are aware, in one way or another, victims of smoking. Either by having smoking relatives or we do it ourselves. This inclusive perspective makes the reader at ease with the contents and feels part of whatever it addresses. It establishes the fact that the perspective of smoking has changed over the years because a few decades ago, smoking in the public was not a fuss as it is today neither was the whole issue of smoking a dreaded idea all the same. Nevertheless, in recent times, things have changed course. The practice has been declared illegal or restricted in almost all public places. What’s more, cigarette companies can no longer advertise on TV radio and of course, in most magazines. Is there any reason for this apparent turn of events? Well there is. The public has been sensitized on the cons of smoking cites KidsHealth.Org (p 1).

The three-page article on smoking is divided into four sub topics namely Once you start, it is Hard to stop, How smoking Affects your Health, Hookahs and E-cigarettes and Kicking Butts and Staying Smoke Free. Essentially, the article handles all that teens need to know about smoking devoid of medical statistics and scientific phenomena or terms. On the first sub topic, the article acknowledges that smoking is not easy to start when one begins. The reason behind this is due to the addictive nature of the contents of a cigarette, which is majorly nicotine. In fact, it equates the practice to other drugs that are considered more ‘deadlier’ like heroin. This part also enlists the reasons why most people embark on a smoker’s lifestyle. Top on this list is the misconception that smoking is cool. Others do it because their relatives or friends are doing it-yes you got it right, peer pressure.

The article is very categorical on the effects of smoking. From the onset of this sub topic, it asserts that there exist no physical reasons as to why one should begin to smoke-not at all. The reasoning is evidently logical. Cigarette smoke contains POISONOUS chemicals like nicotine and cyanide, which the body does not need as is the case with other human needs like water, food, sleep or exercise. The article goes ahead to paint the grim realities of smoking to specific consequences of smoking ranging from the first puff to the ‘can’t do without’ types (p 2).

Smoking causes a number of health complications. The article enlists bad skin, bad breath, reduced athletic performance, slower haling time incase of an injury and a heel of illnesses. As the old adage goes, seeing is believing. This is wisely factored in since the article is accompanied by a picture of two human lungs showing the condition of one that is healthy and another that is diseased obviously in this case from smoking. Talking of smoking-diseases, KidHealth.org records quite a number of them like heart disease, emphysema, which is simply put, the break down of lung tissue, a number of cancer types like that of lung, throat, stomach and bladder (Teens Health 2).

The last two sections address the misconceived cigarette alternatives and calling smoking quits respectively. The first of the two last sections hold that addiction to tobacco is not caused by cigarettes alone but also through other products like staples linked with the Asian countries and water pipes. It busts the myth that water pipes are safer which is misconception is by all standards. Hookahs and E-cigarettes are not spared either (p 3). As a remedy to this menace, which will continue, claiming lives if something is not done and urgently, the article holds that cigarette alternatives will not be of help. The only true help is to QUIT smoking. Though the first days may prove challenging, the fruits of persistence will be worthy the risks.

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