Smoking kills people. My dad’s parents were smokers. I never met his mom and I don’t remember his dad. This is because his mom died of lung cancer the year before I was born and his dad died of lung cancer when I was about five. My older brother and dad always tell stories about them. My dad often says that my grandma (his mom) would be very proud of me, or what she would do or say in a certain situation. I believe my life would be different if they were still alive, but I know they are not coming back. When a person dies for any reason it never affects only one person, it affects many. I believe strongly that nobody should smoke because it will affect people other than themselves.

When I was recently in Costa Rica for vacation, our tour guide (a local) told my family of the new smoking laws that restricted where and when you could smoke. I was pleasantly surprised when I heard about this law because I detest when I am walking down the street and I smell someone smoking a cigarette. So when I got back to my hotel I looked up this law against smoking. The law is fairly new since it was passed in early 2012. The law prohibits any smoking in public areas including bus and taxi stops, public buildings, restaurants, and bars. There is also a new tax of 4 cents per cigarette, cigarette advertising is prohibited, and there must be a health warning on every cigarette package. This made walking around Costa Rica a lot more enjoyable, unlike walking down a street in some places in America were smoking in the streets is common. More laws like the one passed in Costa Rica should be passed in other places around the world.

Mark Twain, a famous author, once said, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world.  I have done it thousands of times.” What he means is that once you start smoking it becomes addictive and he had tried to quit, but could not. Cigarette smoke contains 7,000 chemicals, with hundreds that are toxic and about 70 that can cause cancer. This makes it hard for me to understand why people would start smoking in the first place.

Smokers have a higher risk than non-smokers of many diseases. Some of these diseases include coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times and stroke by the same amount.  Smoking also causes about 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and 80% of lung cancer deaths for women.

But smoking doesn’t only affect the life of a smoker. The smell of a cigarette lingers in the air for a long time. It’s also inhaled by people walking by and ends up making their clothes stink of smoke. The effects of second-hand smoke can harm people who have never even smoked a cigarette in their life. Second-hand smoke kills about 3,400 adult non-smokers in the United States every year.

Last year my other grandma developed lung cancer even though she was a non-smoker. Since they found the cancer early she had a third of her lung removed. This surgery probably saved her life but also made some things hard for her. She runs out of breath very easily when she walks up the stairs or if she exercises too much. My dad remembers when he was a kid his dad would smoke all the time and he would have to wipe the tar residue off the inside of their car’s windows. Even though he has never smoked before, my dad may have lung cancer when he is older because when he was growing up he was always around people who smoked. This is not right because people are paying for other people’s unhealthy habits. When you smoke you don’t just affect your life, you affect the people you love and the people around you.

I don’t understand why teens start to smoke. Maybe they are very depressed and it is their way of feeling better about life or peer pressure. Or maybe they watched their parents smoke cigarettes and they think it is a “grown-up” thing to do.  Today, there is a lot of information about the dangers of smoking. But everyday more than 3,800 people under the age of 18 years smoke their first cigarette. This is wrong because smoking is a “dirty” habit.

People should not smoke because it changes your path and impacts others for the rest of their life. Smoking affects children, your loved ones, and even strangers you have never met. There are many ways you could try to stop smoking or get someone you love to stop smoking by slowly reducing the amount of cigarettes you smoke or starting new hobbies. Since there are many ways you could quit and one will be the right one for you or a loved one. We need to act now to limit smoking so that more lives are not harmed. Our country needs tough restrictions on smoking. We can do this by creating more awareness of the danger of smoking and restricting smoking like in Costa Rica.

Nicole Latifullah
Written By:

Nicole Latifullah

Grade 7

Alice Deal MS