Smoking, Stigma and Social Class

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The practice of smoking, whether it be the likes of tobacco, marijuana or other substances has been around for thousands of years. It has been a defining feature of many diverse ethnic and social groups and has been noted to take place in a variety of settings—ranging from sacred rituals and ceremonial meetings, private/ personal use, to simple or even somewhat elaborate get-togethers. The sacred and endowed side of smoking tobacco was generally believed to have medicinal as well as spiritual benefits. According to Jordan Paper, “[tobacco] was used in healing practices among Native peoples in Central and South America in ways similar to their use of powerful psychoactive plants.” It is true that, smoking has taken on many forms, but it is also critical to note that the spiritual aspect which was once prominent and wide spread in the Americas, has dwindled into a common-place recreational pleasure throughout the world.
Cigarettes (and its tobacco-related counterparts) have remained to this day, the most readily available and highly addictive substance that’s in legal America and “continues to be the leading cause of preventable death around the world” (Wascher). The production and sale of cigarettes should be made illegal in America because it manipulates people into adopting unhealthy lifestyles, encourages children to try smoking, and it subsequently shortens the lifespan of the smoker and those who surround them (second-hand smokers), by increasing the risk of adverse health effects.
The attitudes which surrounded cigarette smoking have seen a steady yet progressive shift from being ‘a [socially] acceptable and noncontroversial part of US life,’ to a seemingly chronic affliction that fuels a disgusting habit (qtd. in Graham...

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