As I See It – Let’s support a tobacco-free society


Two weeks ago, my column delved on the issue of the use of tobacco which is causing problem in society which was the topic in the recent Essay Writing Contest for the Youth this year. 

I featured the winning essays of Tiffany Lieu, 1st place, Milpitas High School, high school category and Preesha Somaiya, 1st place, Maryhill School, middle school category on how they support a tobacco-free society.

The prompt in the essay contest for 2021 was: Why do you support a tobacco-free lifestyle?

This time, I would like to feature the 2nd place winners of the essay contest on tobacco-free society in both categories: Edith Chang, 2nd Place, Milpitas High School for the high school category and Thi Le, 2nd Place, Russell Middle School for the middle school category.  

Here’s Editha Chang’s winning *2nd place) essay):

Smoke Signals

He appeared just as the fantastical dragons in my storybooks had: lit by flames and clouded with exhaust. Holding the lighter up to his face, the reddish glow cast shadows, illuminating his grizzled hair and aging him ten years. As a child, I was always fascinated by the billowing smoke of the cigarettes.

My father’s struggles with his smoking have been established long before I was born. Growing up, I drew charts and wrote letter trying to convince him to give up. I had not known much about tobacco; however, I knew that my many attempts at intervention were futile.  I only found out much later that the smell that always lingers on my father I the cause of addiction.

Addiction is incredibly difficult to overcome and can take over lives. The nicotine in tobacco releases dopamine, and an addiction to the rush develops over time. Dependence on these cigarettes places an intense emotional and mental toll on the users and their loved ones. For my dad, going more than a day without smoking can trigger withdrawal symptoms of irritability. anxiety, and insomnia. His reliance on cigarettes and struggles with withdrawals have heavily influenced me to stay away from tobacco. I fear losing the control I have over my body. I know that the usage of tobacco will render me vulnerable to addiction; my daily life and personal relationships would always be disputed with thoughts of the next cigarette. Seeing my father’s inability to give up smoking has always been concerning, especially due to the lasting health effects it will have on him.

The fine print on the side of every cigarette pack states the same message: “
smoking increases the risk of heart and lung diseases, strokes, diabetes, and cancer.” It’s a list I wish to warn him of each time I see hm take a puff, but I know there is no use. It seems that despite the warning’s prominent location, smokers never pay any mind to it. The various health risks of smoking terrify me and are not something I want him something to experience. As I watch my dad grow more out of breath and fatigued, my worry for him only increases. I hope that by staying tobacco0fress, I can stay healthier and be less susceptible to such health complications. Avoiding snokinbg-0relkated diseases increases my chance at a longer life to be spent with the people I love.

My dad is the most hardworking and loving person I know. His addiction does not define him, I can see the toll it takes on him. The addicting and the health risks of tobacco I watch him experience are more than enough to steer me clear of the substance. Though the smoke signals my father sends from the comfort of our front yard are hazy, one thing always be clear to me: I will stay tobacco-free. 

Here’s Thi Lee’s winning (2nd place) essay:

                                               Be Tobacco-Free

According to the CDC, 5.6 million Americans younger than 18 will die early from a smoking related illness. As vaping continues to get popular and more normalized, we can only expect this number to rise. This can be prevented by choosing to live a tobacco-free lifestyle. Avoiding and w=quitting smoking will help you live a longer, healthier life and protect others around you such as your family and family.

First of all, smoking can be very deadly. Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and more than 70 are linked to cancer (“Harmful Chemicals in Tobacco Products”). A study shows that more than 16 million Americans live with a disease caused by smoking and another shows that life expectancy of smokers is at least 10 years shorter than people who don’t smoke (“Tobacco-Related Mortality”). Dangerous diseases caused by using tobacco include: cancer, heart disease, lung diseases, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (“Health Effects of smoking and tobacco Use”). Smoking also increases the risk of getting tuberculosis, eye diseases, and problems to the immune system (“Health Effects of Smoking and Tobacco Use”). Partaking in a tobacco-free lifestyle will allow you to avoid these dealt side effects.

One might argue that tobacco is a personal decision used to relieve stress, focus, and cope with issues. Consequently, that means we should not force someone to quit as it is their right to decide what goes into their body. However, although it can be hard, quitting tobacco leads to many benefits that are true regardless how long one has been smoking. Quitting smoking will improve health and life expectancy, reduce risk of cancer and por health, benefit the health of pregnant women and their babies, and reduce the financial burden of smoking (“Benefits of Quitting”). While quitting smoking earlier brings more benefits, quitting smoking altogether will improve your health tremendously and protect your loved ones.

If you smoke, all the people around you will be affected due to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is the combination of the smoke from a cigarette and the smoke breathed out. Since secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, inhaling the smoke can be detrimental to others (“secondhand Smoke Facts”). Secondhand smoke can spread anywhere, even to your family and friends. Regularly exposing your loved ones to secondhand smoke can affect your health and their health. Choosing to participate in a tobsacc0-free lifestyle can prevent secondhand smoke from reaching the people you care about and help them live a long, healthy life.

The effects of tobacco are extensive and deadly. Sustaining a tobacco-free lifestyle will set a positive example for others round and increase your life expectancy. Additionally, avoiding smoking will help others around you and decrease their chances of lung cancer, heart diseases, and other illnesses when they grow older. If we can all partake in a tobacco=-free lifestyle, many people will live longer, we can decrease deaths caused from smoking related illnesses and protect our community.

Okay folks, can we support a tobacco-free lifestyle?