As more cities consider bans on smoking in public places, Kentucky, as one of the heavier tobacco-using states, will undoubtedly continue to debate the pros and cons of this issue with considerable fervor. As a health and physical educator, I feel the need to weigh in on this topic. As you might expect, I support smoking bans with few reservations. Here are five reasons why.
No. 1: Secondhand smoke has serious negative health consequences. I personally don’t care what you do to your own body, although the educator in me would advise you to quit for your own good. I do care that your behavior affects the health of others.
Unlike other self-indulgent behaviors like eating fast food or drinking alcohol in public, secondhand smoke is not singularly linked to the participant. The negative effects of smoking in public carry over into other people’s lives with a tangible, measurable, and sometimes permanent impact. Whereas eating fast food for every meal or excessive alcohol consumption is likely harmful to the individual, the negative impact on others is minimal. Some may argue that eating too much fast food may cause an earlier death and the associated increased cost of medical care is a burden on the taxpayer. While probably true, the link is weaker, less immediate and less measurable than the one between secondhand smoke and health.
Secondhand smoke exposure is clearly linked with negative outcomes on a person’s health. While the exact degree of harm is debatable, a recent study published in the medical journal Circulation reviewed 13 studies from around the world and found that banning smoking in public places can reduce heart attack hospitalizations by up to 36 percent over time, regardless of geographical location. Clearly, it’s become increasingly more difficult to make a case that secondhand smoke causes no measurable injury to the breather — especially over time. The scientific evidence that links secondhand smoke with heart disease and cancer has been mounting for decades. Not only that, the effects of temporary exposure to smoke are also well documented and include headaches, breathing problems, and even nausea. The bottom line is that secondhand smoke has numerous short-term and long-term consequences for innocent bystanders.
No. 2: Litter reduction. Cigarette butts account for millions of pieces of litter annually and detracts from a location’s aesthetic. If smokers would dispose of their waste properly when they’re in public places, this might not be an issue, but the fact of the matter is that they don’t. The evidence is there, littering attractive buildings and the surrounding landscape with cigarette butts. A smoking ban would reduce litter. Although not a primary argument in support of a public smoking ban, it is still a credible one.
No. 3: The lingering odor of stale cigarettes. In bars and restaurants and other establishments that permit smoking, many patrons find the smell of cigarettes to be unpleasant and annoying. Cigarette smoke tends to linger on people’s clothes and hair and takes longer to fade even after the offending party has left. Clothes worn to a smoky bar may still smell like smoke days later.
No. 4: The right to a healthy workplace. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide a safe and healthy environment for its employees. While many workers choose to work in workplaces that permit smoking, others may prefer not to be around smoke but persist because they need the employment. A smoking ban opponent may simply say, “work somewhere without smoke,” yet I would argue that your insistence on smoking in public is not as important as that employee’s health and livelihood. Smokers’ unwillingness to control their urges should not force people to change jobs in the name of personal health and welfare.
No. 5: The cost of secondhand smoke. We’re not talking only about the high cost of the smoking habit, which can average $1,500 a year just for the cigarettes. But there also are smoking medical costs. For example, a smoker with poor lung function may have much higher medical bills because of the smoking habit. Smokers also pay more for life insurance and health insurance than nonsmokers, because of their higher risk of health care costs. Smoking lowers the potential resale value of home and cars, because most buyers are not interested in purchasing a house or car that smells like cigarettes. Not to mention the cost to businesses and taxpayers to beautify streets, buildings and other public places that have been littered and damaged by smoking. These are some of the hidden costs of smoking.
Final thoughts. I must add that despite my argument for banning smoking in public, I do support a person’s right to smoke in private settings where the impact on other people is controlled and negligible. My position is that with the use of controlled substances comes the responsibility to respect other people’s health.
Smoking Should be Banned in Public Places
- Length: 822 words (2.3 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
Smoking is one of the leading killers in North America and innocent
people shouldn't die because of it. For years people have been smoking
in public thinking 'it's my body, I can do whatever I want to it,' but
now that it has been proven that smoking not only harms the smoker,
but also those around him or her, they should not be allowed to smoke
around other people in public. Smoking in public places causes a
considerable amount of harm to people and the government should be
doing more to protect citizens
Cigarettes are full of many harmful substances and if many people knew
what they were inhaling they would probably quit immediately.
Cigarette smoke contains thousands of chemicals, over sixty of which
can cause cancer (
Many of the ingredients in cigarettes are not substances that humans
usually consume, but smokers (and the non-smokers around them) do.
Some of the ingredients contained in cigarettes are a type of rat
poison, a type of paint stripper, a type of toilet cleaner, lighter
fuel, the chemical found in mothballs, poison that was once used in
gas chambers and there is even a type of rocket fuel found in
cigarettes (http://ash.org/additives.html). Cigarettes not only
contain harmful substances, but they also can cause erectile
dysfunction in men and illnesses such as cancer and lung disease (http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3009767).
Cigarettes are full of substances that are harmful not only to the
smoker, but also to those around him or her.
Smoking not only harms the smoker, but also those around them. For
years it had been thought that smoking only affected smokers and
non-smokers were not at risk at all, but after years of research it
has been found that second-hand smoke from cigarettes causes much harm
to non-smokers. Now after years of study, it is known that in America,
someone is more likely to die from second-hand smoke than by a car,
gun or AID's. Cigarette smoke causes cancer, heart disease and it
causes many respiratory diseases (http://www.thetruth.com/issues/tbtc/behind.cfm).
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More than two thousand people die daily in America alone from
cigarette smoke and almost half a million yearly die from cigarette
smoke (www.ash.org). Thousands and thousands of people die from
second-hand smoke every year and many smokers don't realize the harm
that they are doing to their friends, family and people that they
don't even know until it is too late. Many children of adults who
smoke shall grow up to have cancer or lung disease (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/smoking.html).
Children of mothers who smoked while they were pregnant will have
cancer, lung disease or some type of respiratory disease when they are
born (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/smoking.html). Many children
and adults have breathing problems such as asthma and when they go out
to eat dinner with their families in a restaurant, they suffer from
attacks. To them, smoking around them is like choking them; eventually
the air is going to run out. Today, smoking kills more Americans than
AID's, alcohol, car accidents, murders, suicides, illegal drugs and
fires combined (http://ash.org/additives.html). Even though there are
many different statistics on the effects of smoking and second-smoke
and the harm they can do, there are still many different opinions on
There are many opposing viewpoints on banning smoking in public
places. Many people (mostly non-smokers) argue that banning smoking in
public places will keep non-smokers healthy, including
waiters/waitresses and bartenders. Others argue that by banning
smoking in public places, the government is imposing on their freedom.
A counter argument to that is that by smoking in public places,
smokers are putting the lives of those around them (including other
smokers) at risk, which is against the Canadian Charter of Rights.
Many veteran's feel that they should be allowed to smoke because being
allowed to smoke in bars is one of the many things that they were
fighting for (freedom) in both world wars. The London municipal
government agrees and that is one of the reasons why the Iron Duke, a
popular pub among veteran's located at Parkwood hospital, has been
exempted from the July 1, 2003 smoking ban in London (Egan). Many
restaurant and bar owners think that banning smoking in bars and
restaurants will decrease business, but a counter argument to this is
that only twenty percent of the city's population are smokers and when
the smoking ban is in place that other eighty percent will go out to
bars and restaurants and that will dramatically increase business.
There are many different opposing arguments to banning smoking, and
the debate will probably never end.
Smoking should be banned in public places because, even though some
think it will impose on their freedom, smoking is full of harmful
substances and people should be able to go out to bars and restaurants
without the fear of having an asthma attack or getting lung disease.
Everyone should have the freedom to live and breathe freely.