05 May 2007

Smoking Bans

Smoking bans are nothing new. In 1590, Pope Urban VII wanted to excommunicate people who smoked tobacco in or around churches. More recently, as more and more information concerning the dangers of second-hand smoke has been discovered, companies, states, and even whole countries have put some sort of ban in place.

There's always a lot of controversy over any kind of ban. One one side are people who see improved living conditions, in this case with better health and smoke-free restaurants. On the other hand, people feel as if they're losing their freedom to enjoy life and being told how to treat their own bodies.

I support smoking bans. In fact, I'd love to see every public place in the country have a smoking ban of some kind. It's not that I have a problem with people smoking, especially since I have no business in the matter. However, I don't want my health to be jeopardized because of someone else's smoking. If you walked into a place of business swinging a gun around firing, you'd be arrested on the spot. Why? Because you're jeopardizing the health and well-being of the people around you. Smoking does the same thing, but because it takes years, even decades, to notice the effects, you're not arrested. Instead, you're handed an ashtray.

Due to time restraints (see next post), I've scanned Wikipedia for a list of the reasons people might not support a ban.

  1. Government is interfering with personal lifestyles and rights. My argument against this is that the smoker is also interfering with personal lifestyles and rights. I doubt the person next to you wants lung cancer.
  2. Economic loss. Like Wikipedia says in a few more words: just as many people want smoke-free environments.
  3. Disputes over science of bans. I feel like there's been more than enough evidence of second-hand smoke being dangerous. Anyway, until further evidence disproves the theory, wouldn't it be better off on the safe side?
  4. Hypocrisy. The main point of this part of the article was that people felt as though the government was be hypocritical due to their using smoking bans but still profiting off tobacco tax. In my opinion, this isn't hypocritical in any way. Public smoking bans are protecting other citizens from second-hand smoke; their health is in danger because of someone else. However, people should be allowed to smoke if they want to. As long as they aren't endangering someone else, they should be able to smoke. I don't see this as hypocrisy, just as the government protecting the lives of its citizens.
  5. "Victimless crime". Supposedly, smoking is a personal choice, and if other people don't like it, they can leave. You know people inside that building are smoking, so if you choose to go in, you know you're going to be inhaling their smoke. Like the article says, not everyone has the choice to leave.
  6. Health care. This argument says that if you don't smoke, then you'll live longer, therefore racking up just as much or more health care costs then smokers, who'll die way before you. This is absurd. It's like punishing people for wanting to be healthy.
  7. Smoking moves. When you ban smoking in public buildings, people will move outside. When you ban smoking outside in a specific area surrounding a non-smoking building, people will smoke somewhere else. I don't quite see the debate here, except that smokers might run out of places to smoke.

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