|Type of paper:||Term paper|
|Categories:||Health and Social Care|
The use of tobacco has been a global epidemic for young people and adults. However, its intense use has been associated with the youth. The major effects associated with tobacco use are the severe health threats to the users. In the U.S, tobacco use or cigarette smoking poses extreme health impacts to young people as well as adults (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2012). Tobacco use has had significant effects on the country's economy and the health of the public. The development of chronic diseases is a major health effect of the use of tobacco among the U.S population. Such health impacts are evident with about 75% of the American citizens spending on healthcare costs due to chronic diseases due to tobacco use (Anderson, 2010). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2017), using tobacco is number one cause of preventable diseases, death as well as disability in America. These health threats are expected in the future if better measures of minimizing or preventing the use of tobacco are not implemented. To gain an in-depth understanding of the subject, the paper explores tobacco use as a social problem from the perspective of its scope, better ways of prevention, concepts and sociological theory related to the use of tobacco.
The Scope of Tobacco Use
In the U.S, the use of tobacco can be traced back in 1964 after the release of the Surgeon General's Report. Progress in a decline in tobacco use has been realized over the years both in adults and youth. According to the Surgeon General Report, the prevalence of tobacco use in the form of cigarette smoking among adults in the U.S has declined from 51.9% to 21.6% for men. That of women has fallen from 33.9% to 16.5% between the years 1965 to 2011. However, new smokers are gaining a higher fraction every day (Burns, 2014). Between 1965 and 2009, tobacco use through smoking caused 5.8 million deaths through cancer, 7 million deaths through cardiovascular and metabolic diseases as well as 3.2 deaths through respiratory diseases in the US. Infant deaths due to cigarette smoking accounted for 103,355 within the same period (Surgeon General Report, 2013). Residential fire-related deaths dues to smoking cigarettes during that period were about 82,530. Smoking cigarette also causes death through secondary exposure to smoke. The attributed deaths since 1990 were 3,400 per year due to lung cancer. Since 1965 to 2009, 18 million people were estimated to prematurely die from secondary smoking. Between 2010 and 2014, the number of deaths dues to exposure to secondary smoking increased every year by 480,000 a similar rate to that of 2005 and 2009. Therefore, 2.4 million people have died due to secondary exposure to a smoking cigarette. For the 50 years since 1965 to 2014, it means that 20.4 million people have died due to tobacco use through smoking and getting exposed to secondhand smoke (Surgeon General Report, 2013).
To prevent the use of tobacco and especially cigarette smoking, the U.S government has been increasing taxes. In 1965, the tax on cigarettes was $0.08 and increased up to $1.01 by the year 2011 (Burns, 2014). State taxes on cigarettes have still continued to be increased throughout the years. Workplace restrictions have also been put in place to help change the attitudes and behavior towards cigarette smoking for users. In fact, restrictions on smoking in the workplace such as firework factories increased by 3% in the year 1986 as a smoking ban strategy by the government (Burns, 2014). By the year 1999, over 70% of workers in the U.S were protected under the workplace smoking ban strategy. Similarly, smoking in homes has been under prohibition.
However, the problem of tobacco use through smoking still poses a major health challenge in the U.S. Currently there are about 40 million adults in America who are still smoking cigarettes. Data shows that approximately 4.7 million of this population using tobacco including the smoking of cigarettes is students in high and middle school (CDC, 2017). On a daily basis, over 3,800 young adults smoke a cigarette at their first time. 16 million people are ailing from cigarette or tobacco use related illnesses while the government is spending about $170 billion in treating adults suffering from tobacco smoking related diseases (CDC, 2017). The society seems not keen in actively participating in the prevention or minimization of cigarette smoking or tobacco use in the U.S. It shows that tobacco use in the US has not received proper measures for prevention to ensure more deaths do not occur as a result to its usage and especially by smoking a cigarette.
Better Ways of Solving the Social Problem of Smoking Cigarette
Better methods of addressing tobacco use in the US could be improved by targeting the critical causes and influences towards the usage. I think that the society still supports tobacco use. Therefore, it is important to emphasize on discouraging cigarette smoking in the society as an essential strategy to stop tobacco use in America. As a sociologist, I suggest that prevention measures must highly target the youth as well as young adults. These are the populations most adversely affected by the social problem of tobacco use such as increased occurrence of chronic diseases throughout their life and addiction.
Effective address of tobacco use in the U.S also requires targeting adolescents in the prevention efforts of tobacco use since those who smoke cigarettes start their first time before or at their eighteenth birthday. Promotional activities of tobacco use in the media should be stopped and more emphasis is given to the promotion of the health effects of cigarette smoking or tobacco use. Non-smokers should take precaution and stay away from the smoking population or there should be set aside places where tobacco users can smoke their cigarettes. The government should also regulate smoking to minimize its use as much as possible by further increasing the prices and taxes. I think that strict policies should be introduced in schools and educational programs on the dangers of tobacco use should be implemented in educational settings. It is also necessary to set and promote smoke-free policies and values in the communities and state as a whole. These practices will limit the start, intensity, and frequency of tobacco use among the youth, young adults, and adults.
Concepts Related to Smoking Cigarettes
Four concepts that relate to tobacco use or cigarette smoking that can help in better understanding the social problem include mental involvement, habit, self-induction, addiction as well as a dependency (Ebrahimi, Sahebihagh, Ghofranipour, & Tabrizi, 2014). Mental involvement explains tobacco use as a mental disease. Smoking cigarette entails involvement of the mind whereby the users are curious and aroused by the need to test the feeling of smoking. This testing leads to the continual use of tobacco and it becomes a problem that is difficult to solve in the mental involvement. Smokers of cigarette engage their thoughts which are only relieved by smoking. Ceasing smoking cigarette becomes impossible to smokers and it becomes a social problem that required addressing with effective measures.
Habit is a concept that explains tobacco use as a social problem. Habit entails the uncontrolled use of something. The inability of a smoker to stop using tobacco is a habit that leads to increased usage. The habit of smoking is the start of lifetime chronic illnesses for the users of tobacco. Therefore, tobacco use is a social problem as the users experience the uncontrolled urge to smoke a cigarette or use tobacco whose effects are adverse to their health, to other people non-users and to the environment as well.
Self-induction is a concept that demonstrates how tobacco use is aroused by particular situations that an individual may find oneself. Those who smoke cigarette tend to have been tempted by specific conditions in life that drove their desire to start smoking. Smoking in itself is not ideal for the users until they begin its use. It is through self-induction by situations such as sadness, happiness, and stress that make people smoke when exposed to these types of emotions. The conditions explain tobacco use as a social problem because the user is influenced by particular situations to smoke a cigarette (Panaino, Soares, & Campos, 2014).
Addiction and dependency is a concept that helps in understanding the social problem under discussion. Addiction and dependency involve the inability to stay without something. Tobacco use or cigarette smoking is an addiction by itself. It makes the users become dependent on tobacco. After nicotine enters the body, addiction develops and dependency on smoking cigarette increase with time as one continues its use. Addiction and dependency on cigarette smoking or tobacco use explain the need for better measures of preventing the social problem in the society (Ebrahimi, et al., 2014). For instance, setting more recovery centers for addicts is an effective way that will assist in reducing addiction and dependency on tobacco use.
A Theoretical Idea that can be applied to Tobacco Use
A major theoretical perspective that relates to the social problem of tobacco use or cigarette smoking is the symbolic interactionism approach. It is a theory that proposes that tobacco use or cigarette smoking varies in age, ethnicity, and class among other structural components that create a difference in social and economic constraints and opportunities for individuals (Reitzes, DePadilla, Sterk, & Elifson, 2010). Differences in social interactions and ties in networks describe the social motivation for smoking behaviors. Therefore, the behavior of smoking cigarette or tobacco use as a social problem will vary depending on the gender, age, educational and occupation of an individual. The social interactionism theory helps in understanding tobacco use by explaining the smoking frequency and the intention of quitting tobacco use. Those who associate with smokers tend to have a high frequency of smoking while those who have a willingness to conceal smoking or fear being disapproved by others due to smoking will have greater chances of quitting smoking. Aronson (2016) stated that adolescents will not smoke a cigarette after associating the intimidating impression to an unattractive girl in an advertisement. Therefore, a symbolic impression of tobacco users influences people to quit smoking cigarette.
Symbolic interactionism approach assumes that people have indirect experiences with the world by sharing social meanings that influence behavior. It implies that the smoking behaviors of tobacco users are influenced by their understanding of the consequences of cigarette smoking. Further, the social interactionism theory helps in understanding the motivation behind smoking cigarette or tobacco use based on self-conceptions as well as the need to find identity meaning. Smokers do not use tobacco because they have the social opportunity or because of peer pressure. They also smoke a cigarette because of the need of maintaining a meaningful sense of oneself through a feeling of self-worth, self-regard and have an identity as a smoker (Reitzes, et al., 2010).
Anderson G. (2010). Chronic care: Making the case for ongoing care. Princeton (NJ): Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Burns, D. (2014). How far we have come in the last 50 years in smoking attitudes and actions. Annals of the American Thoracic Society Journal, 11(2), 224-226.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2017). Smoking and tobacco use: Data and statistics. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/index.htm
Ebrahimi, H., Sahebihagh, M., Ghofranipour, F., & Tabrizi, J. (2014...
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