Smoking Your Life Away
There are many words that bring conflict to people all over the world, all you have to do is say the word and you can bring all kinds of arguments and debates up. Some of them include: abortion, marijuana, racism, death sentences, smoking, and many more. Smoking is defined as: to inhale and exhale smoke from a cigarette or cigar (Houghton, 393) . There are over 52.8 million smokers in the United States, however, smoking prevalence is lower among persons with more that 16 years of education (AHA, 1998). In other words, the more education a person has the less likely they will turn to cigarettes. This paper will focus on the current issues concerning smoking and the impact it has on students in college.
There are more government bans on smoking being proposed everyday, and the tobacco lawsuits are growing at an alarming rate for the tobacco industry. Cities and towns all over the United Sates are now banning cigarette smoking in restaurants. In College Station, you are not allowed to smoke in a restaurant from the hours of 6 A.M. to 10 P.M. Restaurant owners may worry their business will drop from smokers not going out to eat, but there is evidence that is does not affect business in the least. A recent study was done in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and other cities that have banned smoking in restaurants to ascertain the impact on the tourism rates, and if smokers would avoid these cities. The authors suggest that more smoking bans in restaurants can be enacted without fear of hurting tourism (Charlesworth, 1998). The article also stated that international tourism was up significantly in two localities with smoke-free restaurant laws (Charlesworth, 1998) . A similar report came out in the New York Times claiming that the bans, which were enacted in 1995, have had no effect on restaurant sales, job growth or income (Martin, 1999).
The tobacco companies are experiencing a hardship that is impacting their sales and growth. The numbers of lawsuits against the tobacco giants are growing every day, and as a result they are passing on the price to the consumers. In turn, with the increase in cigarette prices, the number of smokers has started to drop. All experts agree that one of the most important steps we can take to reduce smoking is to raise the price of a pack of cigarettes significantly (Rosas, 1998) .
The most recent lawsuit awarded a cancer victim, Richard Boeken, $3 billion dollars to be paid by the Phillip Morris Tobacco Company (Reuters, 2001). Boeken, who has lung and brain cancer, smoked two packs of Marlboro cigarettes a day for over 40 years (Reuters, 2001). The jury felt the company was negligent, guilty of fraud, and knowingly making a defective product. The company understands they are unpopular and that they make a dangerous product, but the warnings are there, printed on the package. Anyone can see them, and it is up to them if they choose to follow the warnings and not smoke, or ignore them and keep smoking.
One tobacco company is opening up its doors to anti-smoking forces, and has left other tobacco companies scrambling to keep the information covered up. The Liggett Group, who is one of the smallest tobacco companies, manufactures Chesterfield, L&M, and Eve. They are facing negative net worth and hope to relieve themselves of lawsuits by helping incriminate other tobacco companies by saying they are withholding information about the negative effects of smoking from the public. (Greenwald, 1997). In perhaps the most revealing statement, Liggett confessed that cigarette companies like itself have long aimed their pitches directly at teenagers something the rest of the industry denies (Greenwald, 1997) . Tobacco giants are hoping to keep the rest of the Liggett papers concealed by the attorney-client privilege. However, that is not likely to happen, but will this new information have any effect on the number of smokers?
Smoking is an addiction, that much has been established in recent years, how does that addiction start? Smoking is everywhere you look, in movies, on television, and on the streets. Recently researchers at the Dartmouth Medical School reviewed the Top 25 grossing films from each year from 1988 to 1977 and discovered that an astounding 95% contained depictions of tobacco use (Morgan, 2000) . In the Simpsons, you can see numerous characters smoking, even the famed Bart (Lee, 2001). It is unsure if these acts of smoking have an impact on our kids deciding to light up or not (Morgan, 2000). Other researchers say being addicted to cigarettes could come from a dopamine receptor gene (Ma, 1999). People who have this gene, which helps to regulate the level of dopamine in the brain, are less likely to seek novelty which in turn makes them less likely to smoke than people without the gene (Ma, 1999). However, people can not blame their genes on everything, you can choose not to smoke, and there are many organizations out there who are willing to help.
The American Cancer Society is one organization that promotes ways to help people stop smoking. They offer countless pamphlets, and brochures with steps to quit, and actions you can take if you are a smoker and are trying to quit. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in our society. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the US result from the use of tobacco (ACS, 2000). There are also celebrities, and sports stars joining the bandwagon to help people stop smoking, or keep them from starting. One such organization is F.A.S.T., or Fight Against Smoking Team. It is made up of professional racecar drivers and sponsors to advocate non-smoking (FAST, 2000). It is good to see people getting involved to keep the children of this country away from tobacco.
Now that the facts have been revealed, I would like to show what my own research revealed. First, I made an eight-question survey to see how many of us in college actually do smoke. Out of 100 students 67% said they didn t smoke, and 33% said they did (Appendix A). There were many different reasons why people said they did not smoke, the main reason was because of the health issues, and a lack of interest in smoking because they did not want to become addicted. The main reason people said they did smoke was because they started socially around friends who smoked, and they became addicted. The response was the same with the question about the smoking ban in restaurants. Out of 100 people surveyed 78% said they liked the ban in the restaurants because they did not have to be around the smoke. While on the other hand, the smokers did not like the ban in the restaurants. As well as the survey I integrated myself into the smoking and non-smoking cultures to see if the groups differ.
I have smoked, and still sometimes do, although when I do it is just because I am around someone who was smoking and I felt compelled to try it, maybe to feel like I fit in with that certain group. To gain a better understanding of the groups I went to two different bars and watched groups of people. It was amazing to see how the different people acted. The people who smoked were always around a group of people who were also smoking. While the non-smokers were sitting with other non-smokers. I asked both different groups why they hung out with people who smoked or didn t. The smokers said they did not like to smoke around people who didn t because they did not like to hear them complain about the smoke or how their allergies bother them around smoke. The non-smokers said they did not like to be around people who smoked because they stink, and it bothers them to be around the smoke. Both groups said they have friends who did and did not smoke and they all hang out and have a good time together. It was interesting to see that at both bars I visited that the two groups were segregated, the smokers all sat around together by other smokers. While the non-smokers chose tables away from the smoke where they would not be bothered.
After seeing the two different groups interact, it is clear there is some segregation, but nothing major. Everyone is peaceful about it, and it really did not bother either group that the other was around. This project made me think more about groups of people and how their differences can bring them together or segregate them. Something as minor as smoking can truly define a person and how that makes other people see them. These character traits have divided people and some have been oppressed because of these, such as skin color or religion. Studying this culture has opened my eyes to other cultures and has made me see how I judge people just because they smoke, dip, drink, or even their skin.