Here is a crazy question; If you could save a life, would you?

Your response is most likely, “Yes” — because anyone with good character would save someone if they had the means to do so — but did you know that every day thousands of people die unnecessarily and you could be doing something about it? The situation is not as obvious as someone about to jump off a bridge. In fact, there might be someone sitting right next to you who is on his way to the grave and you could help prevent this tragedy. Cigarette smoking has been a major health issue for many years.

According to American Heart Association, “Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States”.

How smoking affects the smoker

I don't expect you to read this and just take my word for it. However, research shows that smoking is responsible for close to one third of deaths from coronary heart disease; is related to nearly 90% of lung cancer cases in the U.S., and causes smokers to die more than ten years earlier than nonsmokers (American Heart Association: Smoking: Do You Really Know the Risks?)

Some of you might be thinking, “Why should I care? I don’t smoke, so why should I get involved and spread awareness?” Smoking affects everyone in the vicinity of the smoke, not just the smoker.

Smoking affects others

One of the biggest ways smoking affects nonsmokers is through Second hand smoke.(SHS). Second-hand smoke is the noxious mixture of carcinogens emitting from the lit end of cigarettes, but it is no less dangerous than the mainstream smoke. According to the American Cancer Society, “This type of smoke has higher concentrations of cancer-causing agents and is more toxic than mainstream smoke.” The American Heart Association says, “About 54 percent of American children ages 3-11 are exposed to secondhand smoke.” So even if you don’t smoke, if you are around people who do, then you are still at risk.

By not spreading awareness, you allow a problem to continue that harms millions of people, including children.

SHS isn’t the only thing that affects non-smokers. If you have a relative who smokes, then you might be dealing with the medical bills that build up due to infections, diseases, and cancers caused by or related to smoking.

Bills are in and of themselves enough to make one reconsider not spreading awareness. Smokers die more than ten years earlier than nonsmokers and funerals are expensive — but not as expensive as the lost time one can never make up with loved ones who died too young.

Smoking will negatively impact the next generation

The younger generation watches and learns from us. If you smoke, you are not only harming your own children, but their friends, your friends, and whoever else enters your house. SHS causes physical harm; your smoking sends the message that smoking is cool and “okay” because “my mom” or “my dad” do it. As you get older, the bills that you and other smokers rack up will be left for the next generation when you die; is it really fair to leave our children with such a burden?

Furthermore, the younger generation isn’t just affected by what they see adults do, but also by what they see on T.V. and on the advertisements to which they are constantly exposed. The tobacco industry now uses flavored tobacco products to entice minors. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, “E-Cigarettes are available in more than 7,700 flavors, with hundreds more added every month.” It is our duty to not only protect our children but also to help guide and shape the next generation; the best way to do so is by setting a good example and warning them of the dangers smoking presents.

Help spread awareness

Cigarette smoking is dangerous. It “…kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, with more than 41,000 of these deaths from exposure to secondhand smoke” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Burden of Tobacco Use in the U.S).

Smoking has negative physical, emotional, and financial effects on those surrounding the smoker, including family members and other loved ones. It also negatively impacts the decisions of the younger generation who learn from our example and who are unaware of the dangers of smoking.

So don’t just sit back and let the problem continue; do something about it! Stop smoking, and spread awareness today!