How Long Will We Remain Enemies of Ourselves?

It is no secret that smoking causes severe damage to health, as in the different types of cancer that do not exclude a single part of the human body like the lungs, mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestines, bladder, pancreas, thyroid gland, prostate, blood, brain and skin. It also causes cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, strokes, arteriosclerosis and impotence.


These are some non-exclusive examples and science is still revealing more disadvantages of smoking every day, but a lot of passive smokers – nonsmokers who spend time around smokers – are unaware of the dangers of smoking on their health. Many recent studies confirmed that passive smokers face the same dangers as smokers in lower rates. One study, for example, was published in The New England Journal of Medicine – the best-known scientific magazine – in its January 18, 1996 issue.


The study mentioned that inhaling smoke by passive smokers can damage the lining of blood vessels and impair their ability to relax, which raises the possibility for heart disease and arteriosclerosis. It was also found that this damage can be caused in passive smokers after being exposed to smoke for only one hour a day for three years. The study also discovered that the damage increases with the duration of the time spent around smokers. Ages of the participants in the study were between 15 – 30 years.


The American Medical Association for Smoking and Tobacco Control found out that there is a relationship between lung cancer and smoking in the late 40’s of the century, but tobacco companies hid the discovery until 1952 and that’s when the conflict between international health institutions and tobacco emerged.


Despite their power and prevalence, tobacco companies spend more than $4 billion on marketing annually. And even though the annual revenues of Phillip Morris – one of the tobacco companies – exceed $30 billion, the conflict has made a sensible and obvious improvement in the campaign against cancer in the United States.


Some indicators of progress are the following:

  • Sales of tobacco companies in the United States decreased in 45% and the industry lost 20% of smokers.

  • Smoking zones were narrowed to protect nonsmokers; it is now harder for smokers to practice this harmful habit in public places such as restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, universities, hospitals and airplanes.

  • Strict laws were issued to prevent tobacco from TV advertising as well as other advertising methods.

The American Justice System took it even further and issued a law in 1996 to compensate every lung-cancer patient with $750,000 to penalize tobacco companies for knowing the truth about smoking dangers and hiding it from consumers.


There are more than 300 similar lawsuits in American courts.


The World Health Organization warned tobacco companies against targeting the Arab World and Eastern societies to make up for the decrease in sales in America and Western countries. The World Health Association pointed that the rates of smoking are still increasing in our Arab countries, as tobacco companies found a new market unrestricted by any rules to deal with smoking, where ignorance and carelessness are prevalent, with the absence of strong and effective institutions to fight smoking. In Arab countries, there are also no restrictions over tobacco advertising like in the United States, and nonsmokers are unaware of the effects of passive smoking on their health, which makes them a neutral party in this case and turns them into powerless supporters of tobacco companies, for their ignorance and weakness in demanding their right to have a smoke-free environment in public places or even around smokers.


It is strange how the rights of nonsmokers are put ahead of smokers in America, while most smokers in Arab countries believe that their right to smoke is superior to the rights of their nonsmoking companions; smokers usually do not ask permission to smoke and a lot of them smoke anyway even if they were declined permission to do so.


The absence of strict laws against smoking and smokers makes us an easy target for the worst and ugliest disease of modern times; one that exploits the power of nations, even though the United States where freedoms at large are practiced everywhere did not deny the rights of nonsmokers in public places and guarantee their freedom in inhaling clean air to protect them from illnesses caused by smokers.


A new motto which says “Smoking will be a thing of the past” has been created in America, while a lot of our advertising still allows tobacco marketing and advertising, and some of our people even participate in the production and advertising of new tobacco products to be sold to their own people.


The West has achieved an obvious improvement in fighting smoking, while smoking is still attacking our nations and people despite its conflict with two major objectives of the Islamic Sharia: the protection of life and fortune, thanks to ignorance, the absence of strict laws, lack of effective institutions to fight smoking and even the help of some of our people.


How long will we remain enemies of ourselves?