Alice Walker makes a great argument against smoking in her short essay, “My Daughter Smokes”, by sharing with the reader a personal experience that she had concerning cigarette smoking. She describes what happened to her father because he was a smoker for most of his life. Walker talks about what happened to his appearance and his health because of smoking. She also makes a point in showing how society and Hollywood make smoking out to be attractive. Walker wrote this essay against smoking for one purpose, to try to get her daughter to stop smoking so she wouldn’t have to go through what her grandfather did. I agree with Walker’s argument against smoking, there are no benefits to smoking; everything associated with smoking is harmful. While Walker does talk about a few of the health affects associated with smoking, she doesn’t go into much detail about them.
Smoking is a major killer in this country. It contributes to the premature deaths of up to two million Americans each year, and chronic diseases in millions more. Tobacco is both toxic and addictive. The nicotine in tobacco is five to ten times more addictive than cocaine and a thousand times more powerful than alcohol in altering the mood and behavior. It is classified as a euphoriant drug, because of its ability to alleviate anxiety and boredom. The tar in cigarettes destroys the sacs in the lung where air exchange takes place, and causes a build up of mucus. The carbon monoxide created when the tobacco is burned passes into the bloodstream, robbing the body’s tissues of necessary oxygen.
Smoking leads to a wide range of diseases. Smoking damages the arteries that supply various parts of the body, raising blood pressure and causing serious damage to blood vessels. Nicotine increases heart rate and makes the blood pressure rise. It tightens the blood vessels. This slows down blood flow to the skin, and skin temperature drops. Smoking causes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, mouth cancer, lip cancer, throat cancer, esophageal cancer, bladder cancer, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diseases of the blood vessels and arteries. Smokers have a fifty-percent greater chance of contracting a deadly form of adult leukemia. Smoking is also a risk factor of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Smoking increases the chance of developing cataracts and other eye disorders, along with increasing the risk of hearing loss. The risk of getting duodenal ulcer’s, Crohn’s Disease, and colon polyps also increases in those who smoke.
Smoking also causes certain health problems in the individual sexes. Women who smoke suffer from more reproductive tract infections, fertility and menstrual disorders, earlier menopause, and problems during pregnancy. Women who are exposed to tobacco smoke every day are two to three times more likely to develop breast cancer. Smoking is especially harmful to a pregnant woman and her developing fetus. Cigarette smoke in a mother’s bloodstream can alter the baby’s heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen supply, increasing the risks of miscarriages, stillbirth, birth defects, low birth weight babies, and sudden infant death syndrome. Male smokers don’t have as many specific health problems as women do, but smoking can increase the chance of impotence in males. Smoking also impairs sperm motility and normal development, increasing chances of infertility, miscarriage, and birth defects.
Smoking can also alter a person’s appearance. Smoking causes premature wrinkles, yellowing of the teeth and finger tips/fingernails, and bad breath. Tobacco smoke also makes hair and clothes stink, not only for the smoker, but also for those around the smoker. Which leads to the topic of secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is the name for the sickening, poisonous smoke given off by a burning cigarette, cigar, or pipe. Secondhand smoke causes wheezing, coughing, colds, earaches, asthma attacks, and reddening, itching, and watering of the eyes. Secondhand smoke kills about three thousand nonsmokers each year from lung cancer.