Smoking: A Risky Business


FACT: Cigarettes contain radioactive ingredients, tar, and more than forty other cancer-causing substances.FACT: Three million people die from smoking-related diseases each year.Even though most people know that cigarette smoking is hazardous to their health, nearly a billion individuals still smoke, and that number is increasing. Why?
Smoking. A Risky Business explores this contradiction. It describes the addictive nature of nicotine, the adverse physical effects of tobacco, ...
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FACT: Cigarettes contain radioactive ingredients, tar, and more than forty other cancer-causing substances.FACT: Three million people die from smoking-related diseases each year.Even though most people know that cigarette smoking is hazardous to their health, nearly a billion individuals still smoke, and that number is increasing. Why?
Smoking. A Risky Business explores this contradiction. It describes the addictive nature of nicotine, the adverse physical effects of tobacco, and the scientific studies that prove tobacco smoke harms nonsmokers as well as smokers. It examines how the tobacco industry uses advertising, as well as political and economic strategies, to discredit medical claims — and lure new young customers. And it takes a close look at the U.S. government's conflicting stand on tobacco: introducing laws to regulate tobacco as a drug, yet helping to open up new markets for cigarettes abroad.
Smoking is one of today's most controversial issues, and this hard-hitting book separates medical fact from ad agency hype. With teenagers the major source of new smokers, this is must reading for young smokers and nonsmokers alike.

Author Biography:

Laurence Pringle, whom the Chicago Tribune calls "one of America's top nonfiction writers for young readers," concentrates mainly on biological and environmental subjects. He is the highly acclaimed author of over ninety books for young people, among them Smoking: A Risky Business and Vanishing Ozone. Laurence Pringle is the recipient of two major awards for his body of writing—the Eva L. Gordon Award for Children's Science Literature and the WashingtonPost/Children's Book Guild Nonfiction Award. He lives in West Nyack, New York.

Laurence Pringle grew up in farm country near Rochester, New York. For four years he attended a one-room school (one teacher with grades one through eight!). He spent many hours alone outdoors and to this day feels at home in the wild and a kinship with nature.

Larry studied wildlife ecology at Cornell University and later earned a master's degree in the same subject at the University of Massachusetts. He began a doctoral program in forest ecology at Syracuse University but then switched to journalism. He began to write articles that were published in nature and outdoor magazines.

A turning point came in 1963. After teaching science for a year, and after taking more journalism courses, Larry became an editor of Nature and Science, a new children's science magazine, published at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

"We had a small staff," he recalls, "and I learned a lot about writing, editing, and picture research. I also learned that my science background and curiosity about nature could be put to good use in children's magazines and books."

His first book, Dinosaurs and Their World, was published in 1968. He became a full-time freelance writer and photographer in 1970. Since then he has had numerous articles and photographs published, but concentrates on writing nonfiction for young people.

Today Larry is the highly respected author of nearly eighty books. His titles include fictional picture books and an inspiring and funny book about human error (The, Earth Is Flat and Other Great Mistakes), but his books are mostly about wildlife, ecology, and natural-resource issues.

Many of them, including Death Is Natural and Living Treasure: Saving Earth's Threatened Biodiversity, have been named NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children. In recognition of his work, Larry has received a Special Conservation Award from the National wildlife Federation and the 1983 Eva L. Gordon Award for Children's Science Literature.

Provides a history of tobacco products and smoking, with a discussion of harmful effects and changing social attitudes.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Mary B. McCarthy
How would the warning label "Cigarettes Kill. One in Every Three Smokers Will Die From Smoking." influence young adult smokers? By the end of this fascinating history of tobacco and smoking, readers will be informed, intrigued, but unfortunately not better able to quit smoking. Like authors before him, Pringle successfully enumerates the health risks of smoking and using tobacco. The existence and effects of nicotine, tar, insecticides, and numerous carcinogens in cigarettes and other tobacco products are carefully explained. Current statistics, health, welfare, sidestream and secondhand smoke, and pending lawsuits are included. More importantly, the author raises little-seen issues of ethics, politics, economics, and even prejudice in the continued success of the United States tobacco industry. While young adults may be tired of hearing of lung cancer and early death, they will be surprised to learn of Congressional protection, prejudiced overseas marketing, and government subsidization of the tobacco industry. Too often, young adult health books nag, harass, and condescend to their intelligent would-be readers. By adopting a journalistic approach, Pringle makes this topic interesting as both a health and political intrigue issue which forces readers to think about their government, health, and personal choices. In the interests of brevity, the author has occasionally sacrificed scholarship, most notably in quoting certain articles or individuals without including bibliographical references. Pringle explores several dichotomies, including government support of the tobacco industry and anti-tobacco campaigns, and higher cigarette taxes decreasing both the number of cigarettes purchased and the funds available for anti-smoking advertisements. Along with the solid glossary, a short list of organizations is given, but the focus of this title is to inform about the intriguing history of tobacco, not to help young adults quit smoking. Their decision-making process will be assisted by this title, but their addiction will not end here. A strong addition to any collection, mainly as a reference tool for historical, health, and political study. Glossary. Index. Illus. Photos. Charts. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
School Library Journal
Gr 5-10-In a volume packed with information, Pringle clearly lays out the harmful effects of smoking and then takes on the advertising strategies used to discredit such claims. Beginning with a history of tobacco, he jumps into a forthright discussion of nicotine and other ingredients of cigarettes, also considering pipes and smokeless tobacco, the effects of second-hand smoke, and smoking during pregnancy. Much of the book, however, is directed at the claims and advertising put out by the tobacco industry to discount the medical research on the dangers of smoking. The involvement of the federal government in agricultural subsidies, and interest in tobacco as a growth industry are laid out, as well as FDA regulations, congressional bills, and class-action suits. Brian R. Ward's Smoking and Health (1986; o.p.) offers younger readers a calmer discussion of the health effects of smoking, as does Sherry Sonnett's Smoking (1988; o.p., both Watts); neither incorporates the political information or perspective. Margaret O. Hyde's Know about Smoking (Walker, 1995) includes an interesting treatment of conflicts between smokers and non-smokers and more information on smokeless tobacco, and addresses concerns about advertising.-Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS
Kirkus Reviews
Pringle (Fire in the Forest, 1995, etc.) offers a brief, readable account of smoking and its consequences and the mind- altering effects of nicotine and addiction. Chapter headings—"Innocent Bystanders," "Death in Small Doses," and "Promoting a Product that Kills"—do not conceal the author's position. Especially interesting is the story of the tobacco industry, its lobbying efforts, publicity campaigns, secret experiments, and courtroom battles over product liability. Also described are efforts to sell to young people and minorities through publicity, sports promotions, and premiums, as well as attempts to develop markets abroad. The final chapters discuss efforts to create a smoke-free society and give advice on how to stop smoking. Though lacking footnotes or references, this is a useful title, which includes addresses to write for more information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688130398
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/1996
  • Series: Save the Earth Series
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.58 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

America's "Gift" To The World

"If you can't send money, send tobacco."

— General George Washington,
in a 1776 letter to the Continental Congress

In 1492, Christopher Columbus explored Caribbean islands he had "discovered" and wrote about the customs of the Tainos people who lived there. The Indians, as he called them, brought many gifts, including "a kind of dry leaf that they hold in great esteem."

In early November of that year, two of Columbus's men observed Tainos men and women "carrying a charred hollow wood in their hand, and herbs to smoke in this wood, which they are in the habit of doing."

The highly esteemed leaves and the herb that was smoked were the same plant: tobacco. The Tainos inhaled tobacco smoke through their nostrils. Other native American groups rolled dry tobacco leaves into a tube shape, tied the leaves tight, lit them, and inhaled the smoke through their mouths. Others smoked tobacco in pipes made of clay, stone, or wood. Europeans had never before seen anyone "drink" smoke, as they called it.

More than sixty kinds of tobacco grow in North and South America, and nearly all Native American people used these plants long before 1492. However, since Columbus heard the Tainos name for a Caribbean variety of tobacco, today we call all species of these plants by that name: tobacco.

According to anthropologists, the earliest known image of tobacco use is a carving found in a Mayan temple in southern Mexico. It shows smoke coming from a long pipe held by a man who may bea shaman — a priest or medicine man. The earliest uses of tobacco were mostly religious. Native Americans believed tobacco had magical powers — to give warriors courage, appease the gods, cure illness, ensure a good harvest or a successful hunt, and so on.

Christopher Columbus took some tobacco leaves back to Queen Isabella of Spain. English and Portuguese explorers also brought tobacco plants and seeds home. Early settlers in the New World and crew members of sailing ships were the first Europeans to try tobacco themselves. Whenever an officer ordered the sailors to stop, they found this difficult if not impossible to do.

By the mid-1500s, tobacco was being grown in England, France, Portugal, and Spain. The use of tobacco spread around the world — to Africa, India, China, and Japan.

Wherever people smoked tobacco — usually in pipes — the habit stirred controversy. Although there was no medical evidence in those times that tobacco was harmful, clergymen sensed correctly that it was a mind-altering drug. They often called the use of tobacco an evil vice.

Others, however, promoted it as medicine. In 1559, Jean Nicot, the French ambassador to Portugal, sent tobacco plants to friends at home and later urged people to use tobacco to treat wounds, and even to cure cancer. (The botanical name for tobacco plants, Nicofiana, is named after Jean Nicot. So is tobacco's best-known ingredient, nicotine.) Tobacco was also thought to be a possible cure for asthma, a disease of the respiratory system.

It was not until the late 1700s that most people gave up the notion that tobacco could cure disease. Meanwhile, some government leaders took drastic steps to discourage people from using tobacco. In 1633, Sultan Murad IV of Turkey believed that smoking reduced the fighting abilities of his soldiers, so he ordered tobacco users hanged, beheaded, or starved to death. About the same time in Russia, Czar Mikhail Fedorovich ordered that tobacco users be punished. Persistent users were killed. In 1683, a Chinese law declared that anyone possessing tobacco would be beheaded.

Nevertheless, tobacco use spread and increased. Spain dominated the tobacco market for more than two centuries, partly because its plantations grew an especially mild variety of tobacco.

English settlers in Virginia had poor results at first because the local variety of tobacco was harsh tasting. However, by about 1612 they managed to get tobacco seeds from one of Spain's colonies in the Caribbean. The seeds did well in Virginia soil, and new ways of drying the tobacco leaves improved their flavor. Tobacco soon became a major crop of the Virginia colony. The Spanish monopoly was broken.

The ways of using tobacco have changed through time. Beginning in the 1700s, the practice of smoking pipes went out of style in England. The fashionable way to take tobacco was to inhale powdered tobacco leaves — called snuff-into the nostrils. The cigarette — bits of tobacco leaves within a little tube of paper — became popular in Europe during the mid-1800s. All cigarettes were rolled by hand, however, which added to their cost.

In 1880, a twenty-year-old Virginian named James Albert Bonsack applied for a patent on his invention: a cigarette-rolling machine. After some improvements, the steam-powered Bonsack machine did the work of forty-eight workers rolling cigarettes by hand. The cost of cigarettes dropped. Further changes in ways ofcuring tobacco leaves also improved the taste of cigarettes. The popularity of cigarettes grew, helped considerably by the invention early in the twentieth century of a safe kind of match. Until then, smokers had no safe, easily carried way of fighting up.

In the twentieth century, cigarettes mostly replaced pipes, cigars, snuff, and chewing tobacco as the favored way to use tobacco. And during this same time period it was learned that smoking cigarettes is the most dangerous way to use tobacco.

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