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Smoking a selfish choice- Rebuttal to “Smoking: nostalgia and allure”

Smoking a selfish choice- Rebuttal to Smoking: nostalgia and allure

Each year, an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Cigarette smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in the United States. One of two of all those who continue to smoke will die from a smoking-related illness, according to the American Cancer Society.

You are literally flipping a coin on your life.

“Smoking: nostalgia and allure?” is a column published in The Prospector’s Feb. 25 issue. It took me half a minute to read this column by one of our staff reporters, S. David Ramirez, before I jumped up and started cursing like a sailor. Let’s just say there are a lot of words I can’t repeat in this column for the sake of politeness to my fellow co-worker.

I couldn’t live with myself if I did not respond to an argument like this.

Forgive me for paraphrasing, and forgive me if I sound unkind. One by one, let’s examine the arguments and statements of this column.

“I remember high school, having just turned 18. On that day we went out and bought a pack of cigarettes and a lottery ticket. It was a rite of passage for many of us from the Lower Valley,” Ramirez said.

Peer pressure is a sad excuse for starting a horrible habit like smoking. You might as well say you were oblivious to the harms of smoking and didn’t know any better. I hope there is not a rite of passage to drink and drive when you turn 21—or continuing any prejudicial belief passed down by parents, for that matter.

“Smoking has always had a fashionable allure. Watching ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ for the first time with Audrey Hepburn sitting opposite George Peppard, a cigarette delicately clasped in her hand.”

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was made in 1961. In 1964, the Surgeon General of the United States Luther Terry came out with the first report on smoking and health. In 1965, Congress required health warnings be labeled on cigarette packets. I’m pretty sure Audrey Hepburn and the American people did not have all the facts on smoking, maybe it wouldn’t have been such an “allure” if they knew they were smoking rat poison.

“Cigarettes have been a catalyst for conversation.”

You can find another way to start a conversation, replace cigarettes with chewing gum. In 20 years, those people who started the conversations with a cigarette will start the conversation with an artificial larynx device attached to the hole in their throat.

“It would be asinine to attempt to justify smoking.”

Finally something I can agree with, the column should stop right there. If you know smoking is completely unjustifiable, nothing else should be said. Especially when you know the point you are making is harmful.

“This ban hurts the people who look toward a small vice to ease the tension of a hard reality. It hurts the folks who have made the decision, as adults, to partake of a crop that has been a cornerstone of our country since its earliest years.”

The ban does not hurt anyone, it is supposed to help people. The hard reality is lung, colon, throat, or pancreatic cancer. Heart disease, impaired sense of smell and taste, cancer of the lips and mouth are as hard as it gets, if you ask me.

“A campus ban will not promote awareness or hinder my use of them; it’s merely an inconvenience.”

The only inconvenience is the lack of change in mentality. What that does is hinder progress, asinine arguments like this inconvenience the next generation and the generation after that. Personal choice is one thing, but letting harmful choices influence a society and a way of thinking is only selfish.

“The tobacco-free UTEP website states ‘UTEP has a focus on promoting health and wellness among our community,’ so maybe our next discussion should be on removing Pizza Hut and Chick-fil-A from campus.”

Comparing a chicken nugget to a cigarette is absurd. Here are a few things that are found in a cigarette: cadmium, an active component in battery acid, hexamine, found in barbecue lighter fluid and methanol, a main component in rocket fuel.

When it comes to ridding unhealthy vices, cigarettes have to be the first on the list. I would be all for the regulation of fast food—the United States has an obesity epidemic—but we have to start somewhere.

In most cases, I love freedom of speech, I think it’s what makes this country great. But in cases where we know the arguments we make are wrong and harmful to society, they need to stop. We eviscerate people who are against homosexuality, minority inclusion and gender equality—rightfully so—and the same should go for people who argue in favor of smoking.

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Javier Cortez
Javier Cortez, Staff Reporter
Javier Cortez is a staff reporter for The Prospector. He is a senior multimedia journalism major, with a minor in English Rhetoric. Javier was born and raised in El Paso, TX and before coming to UTEP in the summer of 2012, he graduated from Irvin High School, where he was a four-year varsity tennis player, a member of student council and a class officer for his graduating class. He has also worked for the El Paso Diablos as a sports information intern on their media relations team. In his spare time, Javier loves to write columns for the perspectives section in the school newspaper—whether it is sports, pop culture, religion, and society he loves to write about it. To go along with writing, Javier loves reading anything about sports, religion, and non-fiction.
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  • E

    EstherMay 15, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    Did I really just read this?
    First: the component that causes cancer in cigarettes are all the stuff added by the government
    Second: Nicotine addiction is real. And yes, while non-smokers might not die of cancer, smokers do suffer insomnia, depression and anxiety.

    Both of you are wrong: Although one should not start smoking to start a conversation, participate in a rite of passage or for allure, the smoking ban did hurt people- those dependent on the “calming” qualities. This smoking ban was a blatant assault, a discrimination against people with a mental illness. And some may say that students voted for it. I want to see those votes – one day I got an email for a survey and consent form, what? When did I or any smoker consent? Why did they not start an area for “smoker’s relief” with ashtrays and 200 posters about the harmful effects of it. Heroine is easier to give up than smoking, did you know that? Did you know some smokers can’t have bowel movements until they smoke? This you know that it can help regulate breathing, helping one focus and lessen anxiety? NO, the smoking ban was put into action for a grant of a bit over 2 million – where is that money going to? Some say it is going to help turn UTEP into a Tier One university, which will increase the price of school, but okay. Did you know that UTEP has many homeless or at-risk of homelessness students that might not be able to afford the 3% price hike? So, yeah, smoking is bad. But this ban has nothing to do with cigarettes and smoke and more to do with politics, and as a future reporter, you should really look into that story instead of glorified, opinionated articles.

    • P

      PaytonBOct 12, 2015 at 5:16 PM

      You think if they just smoked tobacco they wouldn’t get cancer? Are you stupid? Anytime small particulates enter your lungs, you are risking cancer. Did you think you were bathing your lungs in waters from the fountain of youth by smoking anything at all? Don’t be daft.

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Smoking a selfish choice- Rebuttal to “Smoking: nostalgia and allure”