National Kick Butts Day is March 19, 2014!
“Kick Butts Day” is a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco.” (“Kick Butts Day 2014 – Kick Butts Day.” Kick Butts Day Updates RSS N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2013<http://www.kickbuttsday.org). Check our website in January for upcoming Kick Butts Day activities.
Eleven participants from grades 6 – 12 submitted essay’s this year. Everyone did a great job which made the judging difficult.
Bryanna White, Grade 12
Gaitway High School
Mr. Bruce Cline
A Tobacco-Free Society
I am a high-school senior who is looking forward to graduation this May. I made a conscious choice myself to remain drug-free early on, but the decision was solidified my freshman year of high school. My decision is a personal one because my dad was involved in substance abuse and alcohol abuse and I saw the effect it had on my family. Its effect on him altered his behavior, and it worsened as he became more and more involved in drug use. My dad was also a smoker, and the expense of smoking as well as other drugs had a negative financial effect on our family. Money that could have been put to better use fixing up our house was diverted to serving his own addictions.
I believe that nicotine is a starting drug. It is clearly addictive, as anyone who has smoked would tell you. In fact, many smokers caution you against smoking. A recurring theme of these talks is that it is a very expensive habit, it is very difficult to quit, and it is very taxing on the body. I have seen multiple cases from my peers about the negative effects they may experience later on.
The Center for Disease Control lists a number of health issues related to tobacco use, and they affect people of all ages. The current Surgeon General’s report on the use of tobacco indicates that toxic ingredients in cigarette smoke can reach the brain within 10 seconds. Nicotine can be found in breast milk, and the effect of the toxins can be transmitted to nursing infants. Another less commonly known fact is that one of the byproducts of burning tobacco is carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide blocks the transmission of oxygen to the brain or various parts of the body. Another uncommonly-known fact is that cigarette smoke is thought to mutate DNA, speed the development of cancer, COPD, and hardening of the arteries.<http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2004/highlights/harm/index.htm>
One of the main reasons I am smoke free is that I have made a personal choice. I do not want to become addicted to any form of drug. Life brings enough problems and difficulties without adding addiction to the list. Smoking has no value; in fact, the health issues that one may face in the future are far worse problems, and the expense of supporting a habit is something I do not care to bring on myself. My decision is a personal one, but I do not wish to risk my health or take on the expense of providing for an addictive habit. The cost of buying tobacco products could better be used in other areas of my life.
One way to encourage other to remain tobacco free is through education. If people are exposed to the struggles of others, they may be persuaded to avoid tobacco themselves. People speak more strongly than statistics. Parents are also an important part of this education process. Parents who have struggled can share honestly their own experiences. Parents of underage smokers might offer to quit along with their sons or daughters to encourage the child to quit as well. That way, the child does not feel that he or she is struggling alone. Programs to help with plans for positive behaviors like exercise can help replace bad habits with good ones. Aversion therapy could also help to make people immediately recognize the bad effects of smoking.
Breathing Cleaner Air
Did you know that cigarette smoking is responsible for about 90% of lung cancer deaths? If not don’t worry, a lot of people don’t. Let me restate that. Most people have no idea how deadly smoking is, and how severe the risks are. People and even teens think smoking is “cool”, but they don’t even consider how much it will negatively affect them later in their lifetimes. Do we really want to go on living this way is a question we should all ask ourselves. Knowing people around us, family, friends’ neighbors etc., are dying around us due to cigarette smoking. Well the answer is no. We don’t have to go on living this way. There are many classes, books and other resources to try and get people to quit smoking, but are these things really appealing to smokers? I believe we should show the risks more to non-smokers rather than to current smokers. If we are able to get through to children, adolescents and teens all over the world to NEVER smoke, they can grow older and influence children around them to not smoke, and soon, we will have generations of smoke-free people. And you may be thinking this will be challenging, but we can do it all in three simple steps! Step 1, we invite current smokers to talk to non-smokers about all the things they had to give up in their life, encouraging the children that it’s not worth it to smoke. Step 2, we spread the memo to everybody, even current smokers, that they are risking their life, and affecting others around them. And finally step 3; we continue to spread the anti-smoking message to generation after generation through programs like D.A.R.E.
Rather than going over all the negative aspects of smoking, we could also go over positive aspects of NOT smoking. Non-smokers, like me and my friends, could explain to people about all the opportunities we have available to us, that smokers don’t have. I think we should inspire schools around us to start smoke free programs and clubs, just like JTI at Chardon Middle School. Now that we have gone over how to prevent future smokers, let’s go over some of the negative effects of smoking. First off, could you ever imagine the feeling of being responsible for your child’s death? Well, many parents go through that every year. People who smoke when they are pregnant take the immense risk that their child could be born prematurely. Due to the science and medical advancements today, many babies born prematurely are saved, but not all of them. A fact that I found rather disturbing is that about 8.6 MILLION people in just the U.S. have a LEAST one serious illness due to smoking! A lifestyle of a smoker is easy to get into is easy to get into, and hard to get out of. If there is all these negative effects to smoking why do people continue to do it? The two top reasons are they are uninformed about the risks, or they are addicted. A serious addiction is hard, almost impossible to cure. To avoid ever having to go through the struggle of curing an addiction, the only answer I can give you is to NEVER smoke or use drugs, and influence your peers as well to lead a smoke free lifestyle.
One big risk of smoking is the hazardous chemicals it contains. Did you know that cigarette smoke has over 4,800 chemicals in it? Some of these chemicals are carbon monoxide, nicotine, ammonia (found in cleaning products and nail polish remover), and tar. A lot of these chemicals are familiar to people in their daily lives. Like the ammonia you used to clean your bathroom, but, most people would never consider that these things would be found in their cigarettes. Now here is a phase for current smoker to consider. It is never too late. Many organizations around the world have been set up to help current smokers quit, and help them lead a smoke free lifestyle for the rest of their lives.
Did you know that every cigarette you smoke shortens your life by 11 minutes? It may not seem like a lot of time now, but overall smokers can lose about 10 years of their lifetime! Imagine losing ten years of your life! Ten years that you could spend doing the things you love, gone. Once again though, this can all be prevented with a two-letter word I like to can “no”. When someone presents you with a cigarette, they are also presenting you with a life changing choice. The choice to say no and protect your future, or the choice to say yes and takes lethal risks throughout your entire life of smoking. The choice should be easy, right. Why would anyone take lethal risks in their lives? Once again, this is all thanks to peer pressure, and then addiction. Addiction is almost impossible to avoid. People often find themselves vowing to quit smoking, but finding that they, can’t. With cigarettes being the most traded item in the world, it may be challenging to avoid smoking but we can do it, together. It is up to kids and teens today to come together and put smoking to a stop.
Asher Vokoun, Grade 8
Chardon Middle School
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Cigarettes. Each one has over 600 ingredients, creating over 4,000 chemicals when burned. Who knew that a chemical used in lighter fluid, Butane, was also one of the ingredients in a cigarette? What about Arsenic? Maybe we should start by reading the ingredients.
1 in 5 adults living in America smokes. And if you smoke, you multiply your chances of getting heart disease. And everyone wants that, right? Wrong. And there are more diseases you can get from smoking, some making it harder to breathe, a lot killing you.
We could make tobacco illegal, of course. Yup, just don’t sell it anymore. It would make it harder for less intelligent people to satisfy their craving. But for intelligent people, well, they would make a fortune selling tobacco on the black market. And then we have another Prohibition, and what went with it.
If we don’t start doing something now, the amount of diseases contracted will rise exponentially, eventually reaching the point of no return. I was at a friend’s house, and the parents were letting my friend’s older brother smoke, and drink alcohol. This wasn’t right, but I was 11. I couldn’t say anything then. But what can I do now? More importantly, what can we do now?
We can start spreading the word. Then people would be more informed, and may not start in the first place. But what about the people who just want to try one, and then get addicted? And what about when another person sees them, and tries one, just to see what it’s like and why they like it so much?
If we can stop future generations, great, but how are we going to do that with the current generation still addicted? We don’t want another prohibition, but what other option is there? We are already spending a lot of time and effort trying to stop this. But what can we do to make our efforts more effective?
We can start by stopping ourselves. If everyone cared enough for his or her own self, we would already have ourselves a massive start. We can also try to get our parents off of the drug, using several different strategies. A lot of the time what will happen is they’ll say, “Sure, I’ll quit”, but they never actually will. So, every time they go to the store, remind them of their promise.
I talked to a smoker once, and I asked him why he did it. We were at a party, but he was sitting away, several yards, actually, from the tent. I’ll give him credit for that. But when I asked him why, he told me this:
That’s where everyone goes wrong. Have one. It’s good. Have another. Don’t get the same feeling. Have two more. There it is.
This caused me to think. With all this education, why don’t people even try it to begin with?
Because one guy says it’s good.
So education, spreading the news won’t be enough. Neither will banning it entirely. What will?
Us speaking up? Great idea, except… it won’t work. It won’t work unless we have something to say, except “stop smoking, it’s bad for you.” No. The way you can get someone to stop is to do it emotionally. Make a big change in their lives, or a small one that they will notice. Make people leave the room when they enter with a cigar. Tell them that they are hurting people they love by their actions. It may work, though there is a relatively small risk that this could lead to depression.
So, that is the best, and one of the only ways we will have any affect on the world and tobacco consumption. By each of us doing something, little by little, it could amount to something great.