Are Cigarettes the Real “Gateway Drug?”
American kids often have a misguided concept of cigarettes because they are legal and used so casually and widely by so many. Tobacco advertising shows very respectable people smoking cigarettes, which may lead kids to perceive that they aren’t dangerous. Marijuana has often been dubbed “the gateway drug” implying that marijuana use leads to use of other dangerous drugs. However, not all kids have been exposed to marijuana, but kids have seen normal everyday people engaged in nicotine addiction with cigarettes.
Cigarette are much more accessible to many kids than other drugs, and its much more likely that a parent or adult figure in a kid’s life smokes cigarettes as opposed to marijuana. These kids are misguided by watching those they may love or respect smoke cigarettes and thinking that cigarettes are not as harmful/deadly as illegal drugs. However, nicotine will kill more people in a year then all of the hard drugs combined. And, the nicotine in cigarettes is highly addictive and results in withdrawal symptoms when a person tries to stop smoking. Naively, parents may feel relieved to find out that their kids are “only” smoking cigarettes and not using drugs or alcohol, but the reality is that tobacco is commonly the first step towards drug addiction.
Nicotine addiction is a serious matter that affects millions of people worldwide. To downplay the fact that smoking cigarettes is addicting will harm our kids and society. Although marijuana and other drugs are very dangerous, smoking cigarettes truly can be seen as the gateway drug to extremely dangerous illegal drug use in the future.