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No one forces anyone to smoke. Why blame the people that sell the cigarettes?
Cigarettes are made of tobacco, and that's a plant. Aren't plants good for me?
Why do tobacco companies care if kids smoke?
Some kids might get cigarettes, but the tobacco companies can't control that, can they?
It's true no one makes smokers smoke. And if people are determined not to smoke, they won't. But the tobacco companies do everything possible to make them want to, then, once they try it, to keep them hooked. They target younger people who are more swayed by advertising. They make it seem cool, even though it's dangerous and stinky. And they make the cigarettes extra strong so you get hooked in as little as 2 weeks.
Tobacco is a plant, but not everything that comes out of the ground is good for you. You wouldn't expect a big helping of poison oak next to your broccoli, would you? Tobacco contains nicotine, which is addictive, and produces tar, a thick, sticky coating. When the leaves are used to make cigarettes, the tar goes into your lungs and clogs them.
The people that make cigarettes add things to the tobacco that makes it even worse for you—they add stuff to get you hooked on nicotine faster. And when you burn cigarettes, you produce over 69 kinds of nasty chemicals that cause cancer—stuff that's normally in bug spray and plastic.
Their official line is that they don't want kids to smoke, but they make a huge chunk of change selling smokes to kids. Also, kids who smoke are more likely to keep using (and buying) cigarettes. They get hooked fast and stay that way. That means they'll keep giving the tobacco company their money for years. Smoking is a hard habit to kick. It can take only 2 weeks to get hooked. Ninety-five percent of the people who try to quit in a year can't do it.
They don't control it, but they do encourage it. They put cigarette signs at kids' eye level, and put them where they can be seen from schools and playgrounds. And they advertise in magazines that kids read.
- Division of Population Health/School Health Branch
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
4770 Buford Highway, Northeast, Mailstop K-27
Atlanta, GA 30341
TTY: (888) 232-6348
- Contact CDC-INFO