Essay on “Should Cigarette Smoking Be Banned Just As Heroin Consumption?”

Emerging research indicates that cigarette smokers are at risk of permanent damage to their health the first time they light up. Heroin users are at risk of death from their first shoot-up. The risks of cigarette smoking are growing more complex and frightening. Heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary diseases and cancers are at the top the list. Within medicinal users of heroin, dependence and constipation are primary adverse effects; within unregulated users, the risks are daunting: hepatitis, AIDS, fungal endocarditis, abscesses, poisoning from contaminants used to “cut” the drug, constipation, addiction, tolerance, physical dependence, and death from overdose or mixing with other drugs such as alcohol or antidepressants.

While it appears that regulated heroin usage is less risky, it remains true that most people shy away from the neurological effects of a euphoria that is not real, but only drug-induced. They fear that they will become addicted, causing their lives to slide out of control. There are many examples of this dreadful endgame among movie stars and pop icons. Nicotine usage appears far less destructive to a person’s ability to function, since the effects are usually spaced over the course of a lifetime. Theoretically, this would explain why heroin has been banned worldwide, while nicotine is tolerated throughout all societies, first as a man’s recreational pursuit and then as a woman’s right to emancipation.

Over the course of prolonged nicotine inhalation, the smoker’s health is leached away. Eventually, whether through heart disease, lung disease, or advancing cancer, the smoker is given medicinal doses of heroin or morphine, thus dying as an addict.

History has demonstrated that every effort to prohibit addictive substances has ended in failure, and yet there is something within the human spirit that urges us to end the misery addiction brings upon the user and everyone who loves him or her. To that end, New York State is endeavoring to tax nicotine out of the mainstream, rather than banning it. It will be interesting to follow the progress of this idea. It certainly had the desired effect upon me.

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