Millions of nonsmokers all across the globe are in danger of serious health risks because of smoking, banning smoking in public places is the only rational way to avoid such risk. Smoking is the number one leading cause of preventable death. This killer is responsible for painfully taking the life of just under a half million people a year according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC.gov; 2014) People that choose not to smoke have to bear significant health burdens by inhaling the toxic fumes of the smokers by sharing the airspace. This airspace needs to be regulated and shared equally. Smoking in public has many problems associated with it, ranging from health concerns, societal issues to even the illicit trade of un-taxed tobacco. Secondhand smoke is a combination of sidestream smoke, which is smoke that comes from the burning end of cigarettes, pipes, or cigars, and mainstream smoke, which is the smoke exhaled from the smoker. There are no safe levels of secondhand smoke. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; 2014), there are over 7,000 chemicals in secondhand smoke and 70 of those are linked to cancer. People that live with smokers increase their chance of getting lung cancer from twenty percent to seventy percent.
Children are the ones most harmed by secondhand smoke. For them the issues can start in the womb, they can develop a type of liver cancer during gestation. Pregnancies are tougher when exposed to secondhand smoke, lower birth weights, premature deliveries, and even miscarriages can be a product of indirect contact. These are just a few of the ill health effects of being exposed to secondhand smoke, and how harmful it can be Anninos, H., & Manolis, A. S. (2014). Everyone has been touched by secondhand in some fashion, nearly every adult has walked by a crowd of smokers and had to breathe in the contaminated air. Science and health professionals agree it is time for a change, the trick is how to make the change. There are semi-valid arguments that oppose smoking bans in public that say it will hurt the bar, restaurant, and club industries economically as pointed out by Craven, B., & Marlow, M. L. (2008).
They applied the Coase
Theory to the subject of economic impact of smoking bans. They propose letting the free market decide for itself when and where such a ban would be implemented. This is a positive and one that should be looked at further. Americans overall want to be healthier, millions of dollars are made by people trying to be fit. If an owner of a bar decides that the bar will be nonsmoking he will attract a certain type of individual, one that is probably more educated and one that is more health conscience. People like that may be more inclined to spend more, therefore driving up profits and keeping his customers satisfied. Another positive aspect to that is the inside of the bar would be cleaner and healthier for his employees. Outright public bans are an option too, however they take a chainsaw to a problem where a steak knife would be better used. One of the main problems with outright public bans is criminalizing the behavior. On one hand the result would be a general public that does not have to deal with secondhand smoke. However the criminal justice system is already hemorrhaging with non-violent offenders and one more law to ban a poor choice is not good policy.
With the legalization of marijuana in two states and the decriminalization of the drug in many others, outright bans are not going to be coming anytime soon. The government is doing great work on tobacco education. They employ social media, billboards, TV advertising, and radio spots on tobacco and how awful it is. One powerful commercial shows a fifty one year old bald headed, toothless frail looking woman with a voice box giving tips on getting ready for the day. Commercials like that have direct impact on smokers, and nonsmokers. When nonsmokers become educated on the total cost of smoking they tend to push loved ones to quit. The antismoking campaign also adds a certain amount of shame to lighting up. It can been seen in every parking lot across America around lunch time, people hiding by their car and smoking. There has to be a rational and fair solution for both smokers and nonsmokers. Rights of both groups of people need to be respected when devising a comprehensive smoking ban. The first policy that can be instituted is to restrict smoking to no closer than fifty feet from any public, or government building.
Violations of the buffer rule could be met with punishments that fit the crime, such as community service. The second proposal is to require smokers that have children be educated about the proven devastating effects secondhand smoke has on the youngest of our population. This could be done through the family doctor or even a referral from the education system. This would be completely for the benefit of the child. If parents know to what degree they are hurting their children, then their logical response should be to stop, or at least be more cognizant of where they smoke and how much exposure the children have. The last, most difficult, but one of the most important course of action is the complete smoking ban in public parks. Parks are meant to be places to connect with nature, nowhere in nature is the air perfumed with the putrid sent of burning paper and tobacco.
Parks are a place where adolescents congregate and often smoking is very much a part of the activity. People using trail systems or paths in parks to exercise or go for walks have all suffered by going through the suffocating cloud. Smoking in public needs to be banned, the benefits far outweigh the cost. The victims of secondhand smoke have no alternative, they must to continue to breathe the air that has been breathed before unless the private and government leaders take action and ban smoking in public.
Anninos, H., & Manolis, A. S. (2014). Where Smoking was Banned in Public Places, Myocardial Infarctions were Markedly Decreased!. Hospital Chronicles, 9(2), 1-4. Craven, B., & Marlow, M. L. (2008). ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF SMOKING BANS ON RESTAURANTS AND PUBS. Economic Affairs, 28(4), 57-61. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0270.2008.00867.x Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2014) Tobacco Fact Sheet http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/