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Matthew Brooks

Emily Litle

English 121-001

22 April 2019

Effects and Risks of Tobacco and Nicotine on Children

It was a Friday night and after a long week of work the recent newlywed husband and

wife enjoyed a few drinks with dinner down at the local steak house. After checking out the bill

and leaving a tip with the server they both proceeded out the door to their car, not holding hands

but each sparking up a cigarette as they continue conversation blowing smoke in each other’s

face. Many times the couple individually had been unsuccessful at quitting and by now what

once was enjoyable seemed to have become an addiction. To add to that the wife woke up the

next morning dizzy, vomiting, and sweating. As her husband got her to the car they headed down

to the emergency room. On their way nerves and anxiety overcame him so normally his body

craved nicotine to calm him down. Soon smoke filled their car even though the window had a

three inch crack for ventilation, both of their lungs were inhaling the elements. After receiving

fluids and a blood test the nurse came out and gave them both the great news they were having a

child who was already around three months in growth. Let’s say this scenario happens more

often than not. The consequences and risks both parents now face have increased. In order to

provide a healthy environment for their personal health and now a child they both feel taking

extra steps to quit is a must. There is many different options to help them other than to

completely stop, one could be hotlines or positive apps that reassure them the benefits of

quitting. If they choose to cheat themselves the consequences they face can dangerous. These

include health risks, and environmental factors for their child. Many teens and adults fall into

nicotine addiction my argument is to show the negative effects of smoking from pre-birth, birth,

environment, childhood and to the youth, and should this be a law that enforces adults to stop

smoking in enclosed areas kids are present like cars and homes.

Focusing more now on health risks and second hand smoke I often question myself. What

is second hand smoke? The National Cancer Institute defines it as “Second hand smoke

(sometimes called passive smoke, environmental tobacco smoke, or involuntary smoke) is a

mixture of side stream smoke ( the smoke from the burning tip of a cigarette or other smoked

tobacco product) and mainstream smoke (smoke exhaled by a smoker that is diluted by the

surrounding air)” (NCI 1) . As I walk around throughout the day over in some corner of a

building or passing by another individual smoking no matter how strong or distorted my senses

are the smell of smoke is distinct. It’s one of the worst smells to get on your clothes or hands. We

tend to focus on the health risks of the individual smoking but what risks are involved for the

child or youth passing by these individuals daily? “Many of the harmful chemicals inhaled by

smokers are also found in second hand smoke, including some that cause cancer these include

benzene, nitrosamines, benzoapyrene, butadiene, cadmium, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde” (NCI

1). Many of the chemicals are hazardous gases and toxic metals. So with all these chemicals

floating in the air can inhaling second hand smoke cause cancer? The National Cancer Institute

claims “Yes […] second hand smoke during 2005-2009 caused more than 7,300 lung cancer

deaths […] research suggests the risk of leukemia, lymphoma, and brain tumors may increase in

children” (NCI p2). When focusing on the facts of second hand smoke in children I turned to the

source of University of Rochester Medical Center in their research they ask people to consider

these facts of second hand smoke. “ Each year 8,000-26,000 children will develop asthma as a

result of a parent who smoked at least ten cigarettes a day, and second hand smoke exposure

occurs in an estimated 22 million children aged 3-11 years and 18 million youth aged 12-19

years”(UR Medicine). The University has three options to help combat these facts “Have a

smoke free car, home, and childcare” (UR Medicine 1). This idea fits perfect for my argument

because of the known fact that it’s almost impossible to ban cigarettes completely in shared


With many arguments there are two sides, however when looking for credible sources on

the subject of smoking I could not finds any that considered smoking and second hand smoke to

be considered healthy in the presence of children. I would mention though that once the habit

starts, it is very hard to quit. I feel from personal experience using myself as a source that once I

start to develop a normal routine within a part of my day it’s hard to change that habit. There is a

nervousness that comes with change such as how will your body and mind respond? What can

you do to replace smoking a cigarette with your coffee or after a meal? I can agree with others

that this habit is normal and a part of their life because I myself have had habits and addictions

that when not using stresses me out. Stress has also been considered unhealthy, so if I was to find

any benefit personally and not credible it would be that smoking helps with stress and anxieties

to keep you calm. Although not in the presence of a child or while pregnant. So the earlier

someone decides to make the choice to quit, the better for the future of their child.

The environment for a child is important Urrego writes “Many parents know that

smoking cigarettes damages their health. What they might not realize is that, in family court

cases, the habit also can hurt their chances for custody of their kids” (1 par1). So what about the

father or partner who continues to smoke while the wife is pregnant. The CDC states “The home

is the place where children are most exposed to second hand smoke exposure for adults” (par2).

If a judge considers the health and safety of a child’s environment and associates it with a

smoking parent, then weather or not the relationship is in trouble, the adults need to heed the

severity this issue brings. So much that rulings are starting to go in favor of non-smoking

parents. One of the cases is “Mitchell vs Mitchell, a Tennessee Court of Appeals judge awarded

custody of a six year old boy asthma to his nonsmoking father. The mother and grandmother

smoked near the child despite being advised by a doctor that the smoke would aggravate the

child’s asthma” (Urrego p.2). It’s really clear that the environment is important to child’s health

from pre-birth. With this research it would be in both parents interest to stop smoking.

In recent years companies have developed an alternative to cigarettes called e-cigs.

National Cancer Institute states “E-cigs are battery powered devices designed to heat a liquid,

which typically contains nicotine, into an aerosol for inhalation by a user. Following the

inhalation the user exhales the aerosol” (NCI p3). The problem that this causes is the mass

amounts of youth becoming addicted to the nicotine. This is important to my argument for the

fact that many teenage girls become pregnant and without the knowledge of e-cigs many still

continue to smoke e-cigs. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb statement says “But let me clear

that nicotine isn’t a benign substance. This is especially true when it comes to children, and the

effects nicotine has on a developing brain. That’s why we need a strong regulatory process that

puts these new products through an appropriate series of regulatory gates” (FDA 2). Having

watching the world news lately I already see this happening. Multiple states have passed the age

limit to 21 years to purchase nicotine products, Walgreen’s was ranked number one for illegal

selling to minors and they recently have decided to stop selling cigarettes and the products

completely. This is because of the crackdown coming on the retailers by the FDA. “The plan

encompassed a series of actions to stop youth use of tobacco products, especially the rising use

of e-cigs. Our youth tobacco prevention plan focuses on three things. Preventing youth access,

curbing the marketing aimed at youth, and educating teens about the danger of using any

Tobacco products” (FDA 2). This really helps with teens that have become pregnant. Overall I

feel woman are smart and make better choices than men, to educate a young woman, I feel will

help her make better choices.

Looking back at all the research I was able to obtain from credible sources, there were a

few topics that stood out the most to my mind. Environment is a big factor when it comes to

shaping a child. Smoking in an environment can cause problems with the custody of your child.

Health risk of second hand smoke around children is very dangerous, as the research shows that

not only are chemicals inhaled but also hazardous chemicals are exhaled. The alternatives to

cigarettes and the FDA recent involvement proves that e-cigs have become an issue with the

youth that in turn effects children of teen pregnancy. After looking at the research I would argue

that laws should be put in place according to the risks smoke and second hand smoke present to

keep children as safe as possible from it. Smoke free cars and inside homes.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Smoking and Tobacco Use.” Tobacco

smoke contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds are toxic. About 70

can cause cancer, April 10 2010

Federal Drug Administration, “Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on new

steps to address epidemic of youth e- cigarette use.” FDA Press Release, September 12,


Golisano Children Hospital UR Medicine, “Second Hand Smoke Facts.” Consider these startling

facts about the affects of second hand smoke, Accessed April 10 2019

National Cancer Institute (NIH), “Second Hand Smoke and Cancer.” December 4, 2018

Urrego, Fernando, “Second Hand Smoke and Child Custody”, American Academy of Pediatrics,

Sept.9 2017., accessed 29 March 2019