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Public smoking imposes significant health costs on the individual smokers and the secondhand smokers in general. Public smoking is a significant factor in creating mortality disparities for the public who do not smoke. There are arguments to eliminate public smoking including provisions of preempting stringent laws, a significant number of policies have been suggested to decrease nationwide public smoking including bans and increasing the price of cigarettes. According to American Nonsmokers Rights Foundation, several municipalities have passed laws banning smoking in some public areas and such laws are now effective in 43 states (James Colgrove, 2011). This paper will argue for the ban of smoking in public places and place its justification.
Smoking has been banned for various reasons since 1590 when pope Urban excommunicated anyone caught smoking. But it was not until the twentieth century that health problems associated with smoking were made public. Businesses provided smokers with a separate location to use so that they could smoke without exposing others the dangers of passive smoking. There are several pros as to banning smoking in public areas.
Smoking in public places should be banned mainly because it is an effective way to reduce secondhand smoking and also reduce smoking among the youth. It may have seemed impossible at first but some countries like Ireland, since 2004 made history as the first country to implement a smoking ban in public places like bars and restaurants defying predictions of a ready compliance and decline in business with improved health for the public. Public smoking should be banned as it puts secondhand smokers especially pregnant women and children at risk as well as people with respiratory problems at risk. Reports from the U.S. surgeon indicate that more than 126 million people in the U.S. are exposed to secondhand smoke 22 million of them being children causing around fifty thousand deaths every year (Ediriweera Desapriya, 2009). Another article by James et al. cements the ban going by its data. Farley who is the health commissioner in New York City asserted that data obtained showing that 57 percent of New Yorkers tested positive for a cotinine which is a marker for tobacco exposure despite the fact that only 16 percent of New Yorkers smoked (James, et al., 2011).
Therefore, banning smoking at public places, an act that causes many problems to innocent victims, is in many ways helpful not only to the smoker but also the public. This will be an effective way of to reduce to reduce smoking exposure to the public by passing well-designed global legislations that bans smoking in public places. By banning smoking in public places, then the dangers of putting secondhand non-smokers will be eradicated or greatly reduced. Clean air policies including banning smoking in public areas are effective ways to reduce secondhand exposure of smoke and reduce smoking among the youth and adult population. (Rosemarie Henson, et al., 2011). Therefore, the dangers associated with putting innocent non-smoking public at risk of such diseases like lung cancer, acute asthma episodes and heart problems will be greatly reduced. Statistics show that about one fifth of Americans smoke and one third of the smokers are those with incomes below the federal poverty levels. This means that smokers are more likely to be poor and concentrated in public places for enjoyment and recreation. Smokers also need to abstain for their own good; they will greatly improve their physical and mental health since smokers are likely to bear financial brunt from smoking. Banning smokers will thus improve not only their financial health but also their health which is more likely prone to health problems (Ediriweera Desapriya, 2009).
Although it is true that not all the people who engage in public smoking endanger non-smokers lives, it is a fact that smoking per se is a sure way of causing health problems; to the smoker and non-smoker. Given the difficulty of quitting smoking and nicotine’s addictiveness, strategies to ban public smoking raises questions of unwanted negative effects on mental and physical health of smokers. Also, anti-tobacco crusaders find themselves in crossroads; smoking is a leading cause of preventable illness and causes death. The available and most effective way of combating the problem like taxation and public education campaigns have produced have not produced the desired returns. When the New York mayor was pressed to answer where the people should smoke, he replied that “he was not prepared to answer such a question,” this shows how the issue is contentious. In absence of direct health risks to others, then banning of smoking in public may raise questions about acceptable limits for the government to impose on conduct. But again it will not be enough to argue that either the number of people affected, is small or many, even if it is just one person who is at risk, either the smoker or to a non-smoker, due to public smoking is a justification to ban public smoking (James, et al., 2011). It is therefore the case that smoking in public places should be banned.
Although legal provisions may have been promoted by the tobacco industry to preempt U.S. states from regulating smoking, this should not be effective at all. Public smoking should be banned by all means as it causes harm not only to smokers but non-smokers especially children and pregnant women showing that secondhand smokers have a higher risk of developing respiratory problems even more than smokers. It makes a lot of sense to ban an act that does cause problems to innocent people and eradicate the impeding danger.