As the years pass, more and more people have begun to understand the negative health effects of smoking tobacco cigarettes.
Tobacco use is known to cause many different forms of cancer, along with cardiac respiratory issues. Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States. Smoking tobacco causes more than 480,000 Americans deaths each year, with 41,000 of those deaths being caused by exposure to secondhand smoke, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Steps have been taken by the United States to deter young adults from beginning to smoke cigarettes, which have been helpful in decreasing the number of young people who start smoking. The price of cigarettes has grown exponentially over the years, which has also helped reduce rates of young adults smoking due to traditionally low incomes of this group.
“Aside from the health risks, I would never spend the 10 to 12 dollars buying a pack of cigarettes when I could be spending that money on something actually beneficial to me, especially as a low-income college student,” URI senior Sophie Johnson said.
Some states have raised the minimum age to legally buy cigarettes to 21, which has also helped keep cigarettes out of the hands of young people. However, the legal age to buy tobacco products in Rhode Island remains 18 years of age.
There is evidence that shows teens become dependent on nicotine more quickly than adults, and genetic factors also make it harder for them to quit smoking, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
It can be very difficult to quit smoking cigarettes once a person gets hooked, but the first step is admitting you have a problem is trying to get help, according to URI Health Services Nurse Roger Jadosz. The next step is to actually stop, which is the difficult part.
“When I help an addicted person, I tell them this: It is the bottom of the ninth inning and you’re up to bat to save the game, but you’re the one with the bat who hits the home run,” Jadosz said. “I’m only the manager that prepares you and cheers you on from the dugout.”
Jadosz is also a former employee of the Phoenix House, a drug detox and rehab service, in Exeter. Though others can offer an addict an endless amount of help and support, it is ultimately up to the addicted person to stop himself or herself, according to Jadosz. Many times, it takes different attempts and strategies before a person actually manages to quit.
From the perspective of someone who smokes, the emotional pain and anxiety relief that cigarettes provide is worth the risk, and that is why they continue to smoke, even if they realize how unhealthy it is.
“Every time I smoke, I imagine the smoke filling my lungs and I know it’s not supposed to be there leaving tar behind,” junior Maegan Doyle said. “I guess I might have just lost respect for my body. I realize I’m killing myself. But when the pain fades, I stop caring.”
For some, smoking cigarettes is the crutch they need and that is probably why they have not completely lost their relevance. But to others, risking their health is not worth the comfort they could provide.