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When the early white settlers noticed the Native Americans puffing away on pipes filled with tobacco, they saw a great novelty indeed. But then the Native Americans did not smoke as crazily as we to today. To them smoking was part of a ritual. The early white settlers must have tried it and liked it. So together with potato and rubber - two really useful items - the use of tobacco spread to other parts of the world. Some chewed it while others smoked it. When they saw a demand, the economists jumped at the chance. A whole new industry sprang up. Huge plantations were planted with tobacco and all sorts of tobacco products spread all over the world.

Even at the outset, a few great minds - including some rulers - began to see that the new habit that was spreading like wildfire, could not be good for the people. There are records of there being anti-smoking and anti-tobacco campaigns centuries ago. Obviously they were not effective.

Today, smoking has been linked to several illnesses and to the most dreadful of them all, cancer. Many governments the world over are spending millions on educating people on the dangers of smoking. Yet the grip that the leaf has on people is so strong that cigarette companies are still thriving. In more enlightened countries, cigarette advertisements are banned. Moreover laws have been passed to stop the sales of cigarettes to minors. However the measures taken are not enough. Young people are beginning on the dreaded habit every day.

Can cigarette companies be blamed? They claim that they are making a living and point to the millions of workers in the industry who will lose their means of livelihood if the industry were stopped. The companies have turned their attentions to developing countries. Here they find that the people, frustrated with hard lives, seek some simple relief. With heavy advertisements, the idea is touted that smoking is a cure all to a lot of life's problems. Probably because of the large revenue that the sales of cigarettes bring in, the governments allow the sales of cigarettes - even though they know that they are harming their people.

Not surprisingly, the dangers of smoking are being ignored by smokers. They point at many smokers who do not get cancer even though statistics show many who do. Anyway, it is known that it is very difficult to give up smoking. The reason being that it is both a physical and a psychological addiction. Therefore, the fight against smoking is led by non-smokers. Latest discoveries show that non-smokers are even more affected by passive smoking than are smokers through direct smoking. Armed with this knowledge, non-smokers are fighting for their rights to have clean air. More 'No Smoking' areas are being set up, to meet the demands of non-smokers. In many countries smoking is prohibited in cinema halls, public buses and trains, government buildings and offices. This has effectively cut down on smoking, as far as the number of cigarettes go, but not on the number of smokers.

Many of them still puff away. Their attitude is fatalistic and they feel that if they were fated to die then they would. All the heroism, however, seems to disappear like smoke when the doctor reveals that the smoker has contacted the dreaded cancer. Then in retrospect they realize that they could have stopped any time they wanted, but didn't.

   
  Questions
   
  1. (a) From the passage, how did the Native Americans 'smoking differ from the early settlers' ?
    (b) In earlier times were there anti-smoking campaigns ? How effective do you think they were ? Give a reason for your answer.
    (c) Why are cigarette companies still thriving ?
       
  2. (a) What excuses do cigarette companies have to offer ?
    (b) Why are developing countries such easy prey for cigarette companies ?
    (c) What reason do the countries have for not curbing smoking ?
       
  3. (a) Who mostly ignore the dangers of smoking ?
    (b) Why are non-smokers today so much against smoking ?
       
  4.   For each of the following words give one word or short phrase ( not more than seven words ) which has the same meaning as it has in the passage.
      i.   novelty   v.   dreaded
      ii.   economists   vi.   frustrated
      iii.   industry   vii.   revenue
      iv.   thriving   viii.   fatalistic
       
  5. Write a summary, of about 160 words, on the dangers of smoking and what is being done to curb it. How are cigarette companies fighting back ?
       
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  Answers
       
  1. (a) The Native Americans smoked only on occasions, while the settlers made it into a habit.
    (b) Yes, even kings spoke against smoking
    (c) Cigarette companies have ready markets because the habit has a powerful grip on people.
       
  2. (a) They claim that without them, there will be million of unemployed people.
    (b) Developing countries have people who are frustrated and look for simple and cheap pleasures.
    (c) The writer says that the governments need the revenue from the cigarette sales.
       
  3. (a) Smokers who are addicted to smoking ignore the dangers.
    (b) Since the discovery that passive smoking is just as dangerous, non-smokers have been against smoking.
       
  4. i pastime
    ii financiers
    iii enterprise
    iv doing well
    v feared
    vi angry
    vii income
    viii predestined
       
  5. Smoking has been proven to be the cause of many terrible illnesses, including cancer. Governments of several countries are spending large sums of money to educate people on the hazards of smoking. Yet somehow, the cigarette trade is flourishing as people continue to smoke. In many countries, cigarette advertisements are outlawed and there are laws that check the sale of cigarettes to young people. In spite of this, youths are beginning the habit everyday.

Cigarette companies defend themselves by claiming that they provide livelihoods to millions of people. the companies now concentrate on less developed countries, whose frustrated people turn to cigarettes for relief. Many governments, though aware if the dangers of smoking, are doing little to battle it. However, smoking is being banned in certain places throughout the world and the campaigns are being led by non-smokers -- who do not want to suffer the harmful effects passive smoking. Many programs are being carried out to discourage smoking... ( 160 words )

           
 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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