Nov 032002
Authors: Linda Lechler

Tobacco companies could make a sequel to the Pocahontas story and use it as an ad campaign.

John Rolfe, the husband of Pocahontas, was the first American to grow tobacco to sell in Jamestown, Va., in 1612, according to BACCHUS and GAMMA, an educational organization that focuses on healthy living.

Cigarette smoking may seem prevalent to some students at CSU, but only 36 percent of CSU students smoke. Nevertheless, smoking is a serious issue, said Gwen Sieving, a health educator at Hartshorn Health Center. She said smoking is a serious issue because tobacco companies have always been focused on 18- to 25-year-olds.

Approximately 90 percent of all tobacco users begin smoking before the age of 18 and more than seven in 10 teenage smokers are still smoking five years after they start. The reason for this is smoking is a hard addiction to drop. It is as difficult to quit smoking as it is to quit using heroin, cocaine or alcohol, according to BACCHUS and GAMMA.

The tobacco companies are aware of this, and spend billions of dollars targeting this age group, Sieving said.

International sales for Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and American Brand tobacco companies rose from $6 billion in 1984 to $35 billion in 1994, according to BACCHUS and GAMMA.

There are many reasons to think about cutting back, quitting cigarette smoking or never even beginning, Sieving said. Aside from health concerns, money could be an incentive to cut back or stop smoking.

“If you smoke one pack a day, you spend approximately $42 every two weeks, $84 every month and $1100 every year, based on the average pack costing $3,” Sieving said.

Even more than smoking cigarettes, smoking marijuana has several dangers. The daily use of one to three marijuana joints produces about the same lung damage and potential cancer risk as smoking five times as many cigarettes, Sieving said.

As far as specific health concerns, there are several reasons to consider cutting back, quitting or never beginning to smoke cigarettes, Sieving said.

There are more than 4,000 chemical compounds that have been identified in tobacco smoke. Of these, at least 43 are known to cause cancer, Sieving said.

Some smokers may switch to light cigarettes, thinking the light version will have fewer chemicals and be better for your body. This is not true, Sieving said. Smokers compensate for the lighter cigarette by increasing the amount they inhale when they smoke.

On a pack of Kamel Red Lights, the Surgeon General’s Warning states “Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and may complicate pregnancy.”

Also, on a pack of Omni Ultra Lights 100’s, which have reduced carcinogens, is the statument, “Omni is the first premium cigarette created to significantly reduce carcinogenic PAHs, nitrosamines, catechols, and organics, which are the major causes of lung cancer in smokers.”

On the side of the cigarette in half the print of the above statement, is a warning that states, “Smoking is addictive and dangerous to your health. Reductions in carcinogens (PAHs, nitrosamines, catechols and organics) have NOT been proven to result in a safer cigarette. This product produces tar, carbon monoxide, other harmful by-products and increased levels of nitric oxide.”

In Colorado, 4,616 people died from smoking related illnesses in 1999. Three thousand one hundred and thirty people died in Colorado from AIDS, fire, car accidents, heroin, homocide, suicide, cocaine and alcohol combined that same year, Sieving said.

According to BACCHUS and GAMMA, one person dies every minute from smoking related illnesses. This tallies up to 430,700 Americans who die each year. In worldwide rates, one person dies every 10 seconds from smoking related illnesses.

Secondhand smoke is also a serious issue when looking at cigarettes, Sieving said.

The Environmental Protection Agency has classified secondhand smoke as a Group A carcinogen, which is the most dangerous class of carcinogen. This means secondhand smoke is classified with the same health risk as asbestos. There are only 13 other substances of this level that are as dangerous to human health.

Secondhand smoke contains almost 5,000 chemicals including arsenic, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and radioactive elements, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost 60,000 non-smokers nationwide die each year from exposure to secondhand smoke, which is equivalent to eliminating the community of Loveland, Sieving said.

Cigarettes are not regulated and there is a question why people even start, Sieving said.

Sieving is a counselor for smokers who want to cut back or quit smoking, and she said there are numerous reasons why people start smoking.

“Some kids do it to fit in, to show that they are a rebel,” said Sieving. “I’ve heard the cliche, ‘I did it because everyone else did it.'”

She said she’s seen people who started smoking for social reasons, or maybe don’t even know why they started.

“I started smoking because I got drunk and smoked and got hooked on it,” said Matthew Kuckkahn, a junior social work major. “I have tried to quit for two years, and I have cut back, but quitting has not yet been successful.”

Non-smokers on campus have differing views on the smoking.

“I tried it once but about puked,” said Lasa Gerjevic, a junior biochemistry major. “I don’t mind if other people (smoke), though.”

-Edited by Shandra Jordan and Colleen Buhrer

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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