Smoking: A Hazard to All

What can be made with ammonia, arsenic, lead, cadmium, and formaldehyde? It may be surprising to know that these are but a few ingredients found in an average cigarette. These are poisons and chemicals found in substances like household cleaners, pesticides, insecticides, and batteries. On Quit Smoking Support, it is mentioned that the cigarette smoke that’s exhaled contains over four thousand of these chemicals-and at least forty-three of them cause cancer. Is it not obvious that these are substances not meant for our bodies? All of our lives we have been warned against the dangers of smoking. It affects the smokers themselves and everyone around them.

Smoking is a one way road to an agonizing death. For the one who smokes, the whole body is affected. According to the Center of Disease Control (Or CDC), smoking causes a laundry list of various cancers, like throat, oral, lung, kidney, stomach, and bladder cancers. Most of your organs vital for digestion are damaged. In addition, your risks for heart diseases and infertility increase. For men who smoke, the risk for developing lung cancer increases by twenty-three times, and for women, thirteen times. Coronary heart disease due to smoking is the leading cause of death in the United States. For anybody who lights up, the risk for that increases two to four times.

Since misery likes company, everybody can suffer from the presence of a smoker. Dictionary.com defines secondhand smoke as “smoke from a cigarette, cigar, or pipe that is involuntarily inhaled, especially by nonsmokers.” At your favorite restaurant, at your work place, at school, even in your home, everyone around you is detrimentally exposed to an awful smoking habit. The noxious fumes are quite unpleasant, and create risk for heart diseases in innocent bystanders. Ever heard of third-hand smoke? The Mayo Clinic considers it a “residual nicotine and other chemicals left on a variety of indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke. This residue is thought to react with common indoor pollutants to create a toxic mix. This toxic mix of third-hand smoke contains cancer-causing substances, posing a potential health hazard to nonsmokers who are exposed to it, especially children.” A home can never be rid of third-hand smoke. A young child’s exposure causes ear infections, respiratory symptoms and infections, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (or SIDS), and asthma attacks.

Smoking burns away your quality of life as its deathly chemicals char your internal organs. Out in public, it’s inconsiderate to expose everyone around you to the smoke you exhale. Nobody ever likes a whiff of cigarette tobacco. And you worsen the risks for those who have a family history of heart problems or cancer. Could you tell your own children that the problems they have were caused by your smoking habit? Or that you’re sick and dying because of it? Smoking lights up the world, and not in a good way. It’s a selfish practice that should be ceased altogether, or at least more strictly controlled.

The RiffRaff

Open Mic at The RiffRaff, an Art Collective located at 865 Mercer St. in Princeton, WV, is an “artistic haven” according to Lori McKinney-Blankenship, where artistic talents of all types are welcomed, encouraged and respected.

Lori McKinney-Blankenship, along with the help of her husband Robert Blankenship opened The RiffRaff in 2006, making it a mere five years old, with the goal of giving back to the community, in an artistic way.

McKinney-Blankenship responded, “I grew up here, this is my hometown. I went away, studied theatre, and spent a summer abroad in London. The way the culture was shaped by the arts really affected me” when asked about what had motivated her to start The RiffRaff. She continued by saying “The fact that the community had access to art was something I recognized to be very valuable. After graduation, I searched for artists to work with, and hit the jackpot with creative collaborators. We wanted to make a difference in our community.”

Their desire to make a difference in their community was the building block to The Riff Raff. At open mic night, people are encouraged to make their way towards the stage, and to share their artistic talents with people who help form a supportive and welcoming group of people. All types of art are welcomed at The Riff Raff, according to McKinney-Blankenship, “Visual, literary, performing, healing, and theatrical. All types of creativity are welcome.”

The RiffRaff supplies people with a place to communicate with people whom they share things in common with. McKinney-Blankenship stated, “We’ve seen tons of young artists come in. Their creative lives are shaped by it. Waves of artists come at a time. It’s like eras of time. It’s always exciting,” she went on to say that “a few have really made it their identity, and taken advantage of the opportunities. Our door is open for you to make it your own.”

What falls under the category of making The RiffRaff your own? Well, at The RiffRaff, you are encouraged to share your art with other people. Diversities of art are welcome, encouraged and respected at The RiffRaff.

If you’re interested in starting or being in a band, The RiffRaff is a great place to meet people. McKinney-Blankenship said, “If you want to find a band, come to open mic. You’ll find musicians to perform with. Once you’re ready to record music, talk to us and we’ll get you started” when asked about how people could go about starting a band, and recording their music at the recording studio at The RiffRaff.

The RiffRaff gives people the opportunity to meet other artists, and to make friends with whom they have things in common with. McKinney-Blankenship said that “If you’re an artist or really creative person, and you’ve been looking for people to relate to, be friends with, you’ll find them here.”

For more information on The RiffRaff visit their website at theriffraff.net!