Smoking can have serious birth defects

In the Nov. 10 BG News article by Scott Niles entitled “Smoking has pros and cons …,” stated that smoking entails positive and negative aspects.

On the negative side is the influence of smoking on our health.

However, he also stated that those that smoke already know the dangers, and it is no more detrimental to society to smoke than to overeat or drink coffee.

However, one must add to the health risk of smoking the recent reports that chemicals in tobacco smoke can cause mutations not only to the DNA of the somatic cells of the smokers, but can also cause genetic damage in the gametes that end up in their babies. This damage to the DNA of the gametes of mothers and fathers that smoke occurs even before the fertilization of their offspring. Hence, smoking can induce a small increase in the number of mutations that end up in babies, leading to a reduction in their fitness and health.

Since second-hand tobacco smoke also contains mutagens and carcinogens, people on campus who smoke in entrances to buildings expose others to these dangerous chemicals.

Consider the following hypothetical story. Since I was born and grew up in an apartment above a dry cleaner, I have become addicted to the smells of the solvents used in the cleaning process. In particular, I like the smell of benzene, a known mutagen and carcinogen. In fact, I like it so much that if I do not smell benzene at least five or six times a day I get irritable, have headaches and feel stressed out. Hence, when I go outside the Life Sciences Building in the morning, I always bring a small bottle of benzene with me and sprinkle some on the ground and around the doorway. Since it is so volatile, I quickly get my benzene fix and can enjoy the rest of my morning. Of course, the people around me, and anyone going into the building, can also smell the benzene. But it is my right to breathe benzene and as stated by Mr. Niles, “I don’t stop fat people from eating or alcoholics from drinking.” With benzene, I just increase their changes of getting cancer and making their babies less fit. “So lay off.”

R. C. Woodruff