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The Problem of Tobacco Use in the United States


Tobacco use remains a major challenge in the United States. Smoking is one of the risk factors for lung cancer and premature death. Young individuals view the misbehavior as a ritual to adulthood. This paper seeks to analyze the issue of tobacco regulation and how some of the existing policies have not achieved desirable outcomes. Although the number of people using nicotine products has reduced, tobacco use continues to affect many direct and passive smokers. This analysis presents better policy alternatives that can improve cigarette regulation. The targeted level of policy is that of public health. With more people suffering from the dangers of cigarettes, the policy agenda will transform the situation and ensure more communities lead quality lives. The topic will address this epidemic, minimize deaths caused by smoking, and ensure adequate funds are available for various economic activities. The policy analysis is intended to address these questions:

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  • What gains are attributable to current tobacco use policies?
  • What challenges affect the success of such laws?
  • What alternatives can be considered to improve how tobacco is regulated?


Cigarette use has reduced significantly from the 1970s in the United States (Hajek, 2014). The percentage of deaths caused by smoking such as lung cancer has also declined. However, over 20 percent of adults in America still embraces the malpractice (See Table 1). Similarly, young people are embracing malpractice despite the challenges arising from cigarette use (Britton, 2017). Passive smoking affects the health positions of many citizens. Experts argue that smoking will continue to claim more lives unless something is done. The current policy aimed at addressing the predicament in the country focuses on taxation, banning advertisements, and smoke-free regulations.

Tobacco use: Comparative analysis.
Table 1: Tobacco use: Comparative analysis.

Experts indicate that the policy has discouraged more people from purchasing cigarettes. Smoke-free policies have led to the establishment of smoking zones. Adverts are controlled to ensure young children are not encouraged to smoke. Manufacturers should disclose the harmful impacts of cigarettes to their customers. Unfortunately, these policies have only worked in urban regions. Many people are still embracing the malpractice in rural areas (Clancy & Babineau, 2016). The policy affects cigarette manufacturers, marketers, and community members. Citizens can be protected from the vice and health problems using apposite regulations. Marketers must follow strict laws to meet every demand outlined by the policy. Smokers will also be affected since they will be targeted directly by the policy.


The ineffectiveness of current policies indicates that new approaches are needed to regulate tobacco use. The most important objective is to minimize the number of smokers. This move will tackle the health problems associated with the behaviors. Alternative policies can be considered to achieve desirable goals (Britton, 2017). The first policy supports the use of warning labels on tobacco products. The second one is restricting cigarette sales to underage children. Another policy can focus on the concept of capitalism to ensure substitute products are manufactured.

Powerful criteria can be designed to select the most appropriate policy for regulating tobacco use. The first aspect to consider is the cost associated with the policy. The best agenda should be pursued without incurring numerous costs. The second consideration is the potential gains or outcomes of the policy (see Table 2). The law’s ability to promote behavioral change should be taken seriously (Hajek, 2014). These attributes will ensure the most appropriate policy is implemented to regulate cigarette use.

Steps Action
Step 1 Cost incurred
Step 2 Policy outcomes/gains
Step 3 Policy effectiveness

Table 2: Criteria for selecting the best policy.

The use of warning labels can be a powerful approach if it supported using appropriate strategies. The approach will ensure every smoker is informed about the dangers associated with cigarettes. This acquired knowledge will ensure more citizens are willing to quit smoking. The restriction of cigarette sales to children can deliver positive results. For instance, underage individuals will be discouraged from using tobacco products. Marketing channels will be monitored to ensure tobacco products are unavailable to underage individuals. Alternative substances such as e-cigarettes will minimize the health challenges arising from tobacco use (Pisinger, 2014). These alternatives, therefore, have the potential to transform the country’s public health sector.

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The presented alternatives can be implemented to address the challenges of tobacco use. Labeling has been embraced before to tackle the health challenges arising from smoking. However, such measures have not discouraged people from buying cigarettes. Restricting sales of cigarettes to specific age groups appears to present desirable results than the use of labels. Similarly, the strategy might not work effectively since many young people have a way of accessing cigarettes. This reason explains why the number of underage smokers is on the rise (Palazzolo, 2013). The use of substitutes for tobacco products can, therefore, result in ineffective regulation.


Alternative products have the potential to discourage people from purchasing cigarettes. This policy calls states to implement efficient laws to promote the marketing of substitute products while at the same time minimizing tobacco use (Palazzolo, 2013). The main objective should be to reduce the health issues arising from passive and direct smoking.

The rationale for this selection is that some of the existing policies have not delivered meaningful results. Modern technologies are supporting the production of alternatives such as e-cigarettes (Pisinger, 2014). Experts have observed that substitutes can make it easier for smokers to quit. When alternative products are available in the market, the number of smokers will reduce significantly.

Various strategies can be considered to implement this alternative policy. To begin with, the government should enact laws aimed at empowering manufacturers of e-cigarettes. Secondly, state governments should develop new regulations to reduce tobacco products in the market. The strategy will ensure substitute products are available. Campaigns and educational programs can be undertaken to sensitize more people about such alternatives (Britton, 2017).

Strategy Approach
Strategy 1 Enacting powerful laws
Strategy 2 Effective regulations
Strategy 3 Educational campaigns/programs

Table 3: Strategies for policy implementation.

Several barriers might affect the implementation process. To begin with, the concept is still in its infancy. Smokers might be reluctant to use substitute products. Existing laws will need to be changed to accommodate the new approach. Lobbying will also be needed before implementing such policies (Palazzolo, 2013). Financial constraints will be encountered if every community is to be educated about the benefits of e-cigarettes.

Despite these barriers, the use of a valuable strategy will ensure the policy is implemented successfully. Several methods can be considered to evaluate the success of the policy agenda. The first one is engaging in constant monitoring. The move will ensure every activity is recorded. The outcomes gained from the implementation process will be analyzed throughout the process (Hajek, 2014). Feedbacks from community members, policymakers, and health specialists will be collected to evaluate the success of the policy agenda.

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Cigarette use has reduced significantly within the past five decades. Unfortunately, the gains are still below average since many people die annually due to the health issues associated with smoking. Existing policies focus on smoke-free environments, taxation, and comprehensive bans on cigarette ads. These laws have not encouraged more individuals to quit smoking. Experts have identified new procedures that can be considered to deal with the quandary (Hodge, Collmer, Orenstein, Millea, & Van Buren, 2013). Better policies will be needed to address every public health issue arising from tobacco use.

This analysis presents meaningful insights that can be used to come up with superior policies. However, some limitations have been encountered such as lack of adequate research. For instance, the relationship between cancer and passive smoking is not clearly understood (Hajek, 2014). The level of collaboration between healthcare professionals and policymakers has been inadequate. Consequently, most of the current policies are not informed by public health findings.

Policymakers, educationists, healthcare professionals, and researchers can analyze the above issues to come up with better models to deal with smoking (Pisinger, 2014). They will undertake numerous researches to understand how tobacco regulation has failed. The acquired knowledge will result in meaningful strategies to safeguard the health needs of every citizen.


This discussion shows conclusively that existing policies in the field of tobacco use are inadequate. New approaches such as banning sales, alternative substances, and warning labels can transform the situation and discourage more people from smoking. Researchers in marketing, health practice, public health, medicine, and policymaking should collaborate to develop better policies. Future studies should focus on these questions to ensure tobacco products are regulated successfully:

  • How can alternative substances help people quit smoking?
  • What laws can be implemented to support alternative products?
  • What issues should be considered if the country is to regulate tobacco use efficiently?


Britton, J. (2017). Smoke-free policy and child health. Lancet Public Health, 2, 392-393. Web.

Clancy, L., & Babineau, K. (2016). E-cigarettes: Effective cessation tools or public health threat? QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, 109(2), 79-81. Web.

Hajek, P. (2014). Electronic cigarettes have a potential for huge public health benefit. BMC Medicine, 12(225), 1-4. 

Hodge, J. G., Collmer, V., Orenstein, D. G., Millea, C., & Van Buren, L. (2013). Reconsidering the legality of cigarette smoking advertisements on television public health and the law. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 41(1), 369-373. Web.

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Palazzolo, D. L. (2013). Electronic cigarettes and vaping: A new challenge in clinical medicine and public health: A literature review. Frontiers in Public Health, 1(56), 1-20. Web.

Pisinger, C. (2014). Why public health people are more worried and excited over e-cigarettes. BMC Medicine, 12(226), 1-5. 

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