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Co, Gianne Krischelle U. ; Dayo, Henshel Sheray S. ;

Salud, Al Vincent Paul P. ; Santos, Rochelle Kirstin C. Section S15 ; ; ;

De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines


This research paper intends to present the negative effects of smoking tobacco and its other cousins, such as cigarettes and pipes. The issues tackled in this paper include concerns in the health sector, how poverty is exacerbated, how world hunger is affected, how economic productivity has diminished, and how it damages the environment. In addition, the group aims to get a better view of the reasons why many are still using them despite the common knowledge that it can kill and can damage the environment. At the end of this paper, the group shall stand on a point that would conclude this study.


As the public health community tries to reduce the consequences smoking has on society, it has tried a number of different approaches including education, public relations, promoting smoking cessation programs, passing laws restricting tobacco products, and suing the tobacco companies. No doubt about it. Just like there are more babies than there are willing people to adopt them, smoking has more negative effects than there are positive ones. Smoking is one of the most difficult addictions to break. All around the world, there is an estimated 1.3 billion people who smoke, and most of these people start smoking before the age of 18, while almost a quarter of these individuals begin using tobacco before the age of 10. Scientists estimate that cigarettes are more addictive than cocaine, heroin, or alcohol. According to the World Health Organization, smoking kills more people than any disease in the world. Statistics say that it is currently responsible for the death of one in 10 adults. In 2005, tobacco caused 5.4 million deaths (one every 6 seconds), and if this smoking pattern continue, it will cause some 8 million deaths each year by [1]. With all these information readily available, why do people continue to smoke? And why is smoking still considered the one best thing there is—by the poor and the rich alike who just can’t overcome their strong addiction?


Just like any business in any industry, tobacco companies are now also compelled to target the young and women to increase market population. With the tobacco industry, ironically perhaps, as their products kill their customers (or as customers try to quit), they need to find newer consumers. Younger people will take a longer time to die or quit, thus increasingly the likelihood of continued sales. Another target market being pursued by tobacco companies are the minority groups such as the Hispanics. According to the National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human Services Organizations, the tobacco industry specifically targets Hispanic consumers because of the long- recognized "economic value of targeting advertising to low- income Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks" and because "Hispanics tend to be much more 'brand-loyal' than their non-Hispanic white counterparts" [9]. A survey by the WHO found that nearly 17 percent of students in India aged 15 and under use some form of tobacco, most of them cigarettes. While public bans on smoking had some positive effects, this rise has been a concern, and the study urged that more be done to tackle advertising. In New York, Tobacco Free Tompkins (T-Free), a Community Partner of the New York State Tobacco Control Program, conducted a survey on tobacco usage and determined that 14 percent with less than a high school education use tobacco, 26 percent of high school grads with no college, 28 percent of those with some, but less that 4 years of college, and 11 percent with 4 or more years of college [6].

Figure 1. Tobacco use by education, Tompkins County 2004—Community Tobacco Survey, Tobacco Control Program (TC), June

Figure 1. Tobacco use by education, Tompkins County 2004—Community Tobacco Survey, Tobacco Control Program (TC), June 2004

Another survey conducted last June 2004 by T- Free was to find out how many adults in Tompkins County use tobacco and smoke cigarettes. It turned out that 19.9 percent of Tompkins County adults use tobacco

Figure 1. Tobacco use by education, Tompkins County 2004—Community Tobacco Survey, Tobacco Control Program (TC), June

Figure 2. Overall Tobacco Use, Tompkins County Adults 2004—Community Tobacco Survey, Tobacco Control Program (TC), June 2004

while 18.2 percent of Tompkins County adults smoke cigarettes at least some days [6].

Figure 1. Tobacco use by education, Tompkins County 2004—Community Tobacco Survey, Tobacco Control Program (TC), June

Figure 3. Cigarette Use, Tompkins County Adults 2004— Community Tobacco Survey, Tobacco Control Program (TC), June 2004

Given these, it shows that the target of tobacco companies is now more focused on the youth of today.


Tobacco and poverty are undeniably connected to each other. In most countries, tobacco consumption tends to be higher in families belonging to the lower-class. It is worth citing the WHO again for a summary of how tobacco exacerbates poverty: “Tobacco and poverty are inextricably linked.” Many studies have shown that in the poorest households in some low-income countries as much as 10 percent of total household expenditure is on tobacco and therefore less money to spend on basic items such as food, education and health care. In addition to its direct health effects, tobacco leads to malnutrition, increased health care costs and premature death. It also contributes to a higher illiteracy rate, since money that could have been used for education is spent on tobacco instead. Tobacco’s role in exacerbating poverty has been largely ignored by researchers in both fields [5]. All these problems deprive families of much- needed income and savings and even compounds to their problems through the additional costs incurred for health care.

John Madeley noted in his book, Big Business Poor People that heavy advertising of tobacco by Transnational Corporations (TNCs) can “convince the poor to smoke more, and to use money they might have spent on food or health care, to buy cigarettes instead [2].”


Dr Judith MacKay, Director of the Asian Consultancy on

Tobacco Control in Hong Kong, claims that tobacco’s “minor” use of land denies 10 to 20 million people of food. “Where food has to be imported because rich farmland is being diverted to tobacco production, the government will have to bear the cost of food imports,” she points out. This case in point, smoking also contributes to world hunger as the tobacco industry diverts huge amounts of land from producing food to producing tobacco. John Madeley added, the bottom line for governments of developing countries is that the net economic costs of tobacco are profoundly negative—the cost of treatment, disability and death exceeds the economic benefits to producers by at least US$200 billion annually “with one third of this loss being incurred by developing countries [2].” Madeley also described in detail other impacts on land from tobacco use:

  • The land that has been destroyed or degraded to grow tobacco has affects on nearby farms. As forests,

for example, are cleared to make way for tobacco plantations, then the soil protection it provides is lost and is more likely to be washed away in heavy rains. This can lead to soil degradation and failing yields.

  • A lot of wood is also needed to cure tobacco leaves.

  • Tobacco uses up more water, and has more pesticides applied to it, further affecting water supplies. These water supplies are further depleted by the tobacco industry recommending the planting of quick growing, but water-thirsty eucalyptus trees.

  • Child labor is often needed in tobacco farms.


There are also other less direct impacts to the environment. For example, the resources required to make cigarette lighters and related products, to package and sell them, the resources required to box and package tobacco products, and the ones required to employ people working in the industry, to advertise and market the products. Also, many lighters are made from plastics and require a small amount of fuel.

In the vast quantities they are produced these small amounts of oil and related products that go into these can add up. As people are getting jittery about high oil prices, clean energy and so on, these kinds of things add to those concerns, even if this is not seen as a priority concern. Given that tobacco use has no benefit for society, these costs further highlight wasted resources. While tobacco companies are somewhat held to account for the additional costs to people’s health, they are rarely held accountable for promoting products which have these additional consequences.


The economic costs of tobacco use are equally devastating.

In addition to the high public health costs of treating tobacco-caused diseases, tobacco kills people at the height of their productivity, depriving families of breadwinners and nations of a healthy workforce. Tobacco users are also less productive while they are alive due to increased sickness [5]. To alleviate the dangerous effects tobacco has been bringing to its consumers, The WHO has defined a policy approach summarized by the acronym [4], MPOWER, to:

  • Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies

  • Protect people from tobacco smoke

  • Offer help to quit tobacco use

  • Warn about the dangers of tobacco

  • Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and

  • Raise taxes on tobacco In a 2008 report analyzing global tobacco use and

control, the WHO found that:

  • Only 5 percent of the global population is protected by comprehensive national smoke-free legislation and 40 percent of countries still allow smoking in hospitals and schools;

  • Only 5 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with comprehensive national bans on tobacco advertising and promotion;

  • Just 15 countries, representing 6 percent of the global population, mandate pictorial warnings on tobacco packaging;

  • Services to treat tobacco dependence are fully available in only nine countries, covering 5 percent of the world’s people;

  • Tobacco tax revenues are more than 4000 times greater than spending on tobacco control in middle-income countries and more than 9000 times greater in lower-income countries. High- income countries collect about 340 times more money in tobacco taxes than they spend on tobacco control.


While the tobacco industry without any doubt provides jobs for many people around the world, the total negative effects of the industry and of smoking tobacco suggests that this is “wasted wealth” and “wasted labor.” Talented scientists and business people currently employed by this industry could potentially be working in other areas contributing to society in a more positive way, while agricultural workers could potentially be producing less damaging products, for example. Wastage also occurs in the form of deaths from fires, the environmental damage caused by forest fires started by cigarettes, the resources needed to package, distribute, and employ people in the tobacco industry, the resources needed to create additional products such as cigarette lighters, promotional materials, etc. In a way, there is also the extra cost of anti- tobacco campaigns. Arguably, without the excessive promotion by the tobacco industry, much time and resources would not have to be devoted by the World Health Organization and other campaigners on raising these

issues; other concerns could then be given more attention. The production of tobacco is rooted from tobacco

farming. It is an extremely labor-intensive occupation and

involves the use of expensive materials such as chemical

fertilizers and pesticides. The tobacco industry reaps the overwhelming economic benefits brought about by tobacco



farming whereas the laborers and farmers find themselves deep in debt. In addition, tobacco farmers are also prone to illnesses as a result of their exposure to pesticide and nicotine poisoning. Children and adults working with tobacco often suffer from green tobacco sickness (GTS), which is caused by dermal absorption of nicotine from contact with tobacco leaves. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, weakness, headache and dizziness, and may also include

It is often argued by those who prefer to smoke and not see more and more restrictions put in place that it is their free choice to smoke. Some will add that they do not smoke in front of children, etc and thus sound responsible. Yet, on the one hand how free a choice is it to decide to smoke? Advertising, peer pressure, modern culture, stress all combine to give reasons for people to smoke.

abdominal cramps and difficulty breathing, as well as fluctuations in blood pressure and heart rates [10]. There is growing concern about the neuropsychiatric effects among tobacco workers of exposure to organophosphate pesticides, with preliminary studies indicating increased rates of depression and suicides in Brazil among tobacco farmers [11]. While people have attempted to hold tobacco companies to account for the health burden they introduce, they are rarely held to account for these other forms of waste.

Furthermore, it may seem like a free choice to only harm oneself when deciding to smoke, but second-hand smoking also kills. And perhaps more remote than that is people half way around the world may be going hungry because land that could have been growing and sustaining local people is now diverted into environmentally damaging and wasteful tobacco production. As hopeless as it may already seem, as long as people exist, change is inevitable. At the present, developments in technology have caught up with the tobacco industry particularly through the use of electronic cigarettes. The electronic cigarette is basically a device that


Tobacco use harms health in many ways. In fact smoking may cause more than 20 illnesses of which can kill. Smokers are generally in poorer health than non-smokers. On average, smokers die younger than non-smokers. Cigarette smoking is a major cause of cancer, cardiovascular disease and chronic lung disease. Smoking also has a profound impact on reproductive health. Smoking harms almost all organs and body systems, even those not in direct contact with tobacco or tobacco smoke. Secondhand tobacco smoke is also a cause of illness– including fatal illness–in non-smokers. Children exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems and more severe asthma. In adults, passive smoking causes immediate adverse effects on the

looks like a cigarette, delivers “smoke” and nicotine, and allows the smoker to enjoy the smoking experience with much less harm to oneself and the environment. With further research and testing on these technologies, the high rate of smoking occurrences can be curbed. For the problem to be completely eradicated is another story. Ultimately, the one clear-cut solution is to stop smoking permanently. It can be done through therapy, “cold-turkey,” or any other means possible which are of course, within reason. There should be no side-effects whatsoever. If one does not wish to give up smoking because it is considered free choice, how about quitting smoking so others may have a choice?

cardiovascular system and is a cause of coronary heart disease and lung cancer [7]. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States today, and the leading cause of death among smokers. And, on a global level, researchers report that

[1] 10 facts about tobacco and second-hand smoke. (May 2008). World Health Organization Official Website. Retrieved March 6, 2009 from factfiles/tobacco/en/index.html

there were 1,690,000 premature deaths from cardiovascular disease among smokers in the year 2000. In contrast, there were approximately 850,000 lung cancer deaths during the

[2] Madeley, J. (Feb 2009). Big Business Poor People: The Impact of Transnational Corporations on the World's Poor.

same year, and 118,000 COPD deaths from smoking in 2001, worldwide [8].

Michigan: Zed Books, 1999.


Indeed smokers have to pay attention to such risks


New report on

global tobacco control efforts. (Feb

they are taking. Still there are a lot of people worldwide







who continues to smoke. Don’t these issues ring a bell to









[4] WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2008 - The MPOWER package. (Feb 2008). World Health Organization Official Website. Retrieved March 7, 2009 from

[5] Why is tobacco a public health priority? (Dec 2004). World Health Organization Official Website. Retrieved March 7, 2009 from priority/en/

[6] Tobacco Survey. (June 2004). T-Free: Tobacco Free


















from themes/index.php?id=2

[8] Martin, T. (June 2008). The Health Risks of Smoking. Website. Retrieved March 9, 2009 from mokingrisks.htm

[9] Tobacco Industry's Targeting of Youth, Minorities and













[10] Arcury T.A. et al. High levels of transdermal nicotine exposure producegreen tobacco sickness in Latino farm workers. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 2003, 5:315-321 and Ballard T et al. Green tobacco sickness: occupational nicotine poisoning in tobacco workers. Archives of Environmental Health, 1995, 50:384-389.

[11] Salvi RM et al. Neuropsychiatric evaluation in subjects chronically exposed to organophosphate pesticides. Toxicological Sciences, 2003,73:267-271; and Jamal GA et al. A clinical neurological, neurophysiological, and neuropsychological study of sheep farmers and dippers exposed to organophosphate pesticides. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2002, 59:434-441; Christian Aid/ DESER. Hooked on Tobacco report February 2002.