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For years cigarette smoking was considered the popular thing to do. Tobacco was advertised across movies and television. It was over billboards and radio. Cigarette smoking was allowed everywhere, including in the workplace and in schools. It wasn’t until the 1950s, when lung cancer was linked to the use of tobacco, that people realized its dangers (Proctor 88). It took almost 45 years after that realization, for people to trust the connection between the high rates in lung cancer and tobacco and start to implement bans on the product.
In 1995, California became the first state to ban cigarette smoking in indoor establishments. Twenty-eight additional states would follow suit, putting their own terms and restrictions on the severity of their bans. Although these states have taken a great step in the ban on tobacco products, I believe the United States Congress should implements a Federal indoor nonsmoking ban which should include casinos, bars, clubs, and all workplace areas.
Eliminating the option to smoke in places where everyone is not a smoker is imperative for a number of reasons.
First, secondhand smoke poses many threats to the health of non-smokers. Second, smelling like cigarettes, and smoke, is inconvenient. Especially when you are not a smoker. Last, but definitely not least, smoking is a danger to the health of the smoker and banning indoor smoking will aid in moving smokers to a healthier lifestyle. Even if that starts with them smoking a few less cigarettes each day. A study performed in New York found that “implementing a comprehensive state smokefree law prohibiting smoking in all indoor areas of workplaces, restaurants, and bars” was associated with “an 8% reduction in hospital admissions…the year after the state smokefree law took effect, accounting for 3,813 fewer admission and $56 million in savings on hospital costs (“Smokefree Policies”).
Let’s start off by discussing the dangers of second-hand smoke. With the current ban allowing smoking in casinos, bars, and clubs, your putting at risk not only the customers that are in and out of the establishment, but the workers who spend anywhere from four to eight or more hours in the smoking environment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke, and even brief exposure can cause immediate harm (“Smokefree Policies”).” This would mean that even the brief exposure to workers in casinos and bars is putting them at risk of dangers. Everyone deserves the right to a healthy workplace and a healthy lifestyle and should not be subjected to the health risks associated with secondhand smoke.
There are both major and minor side effects to secondhand smoke, but the more harmful effects include lung cancer and heart disease. According to the Cleveland Clinic “If you are a non-smoker but are exposed to secondhand smoke on a regular basis, your body will still absorb nicotine and other harmful substances”. They go on to confirm that even as little as two hours of secondhand smoke inhalation “increases the chance of irregular heart beat (arrhythmia) and can trigger a fatal cardiac event or heart attack (“Secondhand Smoke”).” The current ban that limits to casinos and bars may protect smaller children, but we are ultimately sacrificing the safety and lives of service workers when we continue to allow indoor smoking. The CDC confirms that “there is strong evidence (the second highest level of evidence under the report’s rating scale) that implementation of smokefree legislation causes a decline in heart disease morbidity (“Smokefree Policies”)” confirming that a ban is what is best for everyone.
Let’s move on to the inconveniences of smelling like cigarettes and smoke to non-smokers. No one wants to get all dressed up to go out to dance only to have to wash your hair, or re-wash, after one night out because of the smell of smoke. It seems as though, even when you are around a smoker for only a couple of hours, the smoke attaches to every fiber on your clothes and hair and follows you home. Even when you allow smoking within your home, which is a personal preference, people who move in after you have to wash and re-paint house walls to get rid of the smell in a smoker’s houses. Carpets sometimes need to be taken up and replaced, or thorough steam cleaned by professionals just to get the smell out.
Many property owners, both of rental houses and apartments, now ban smoking in the property because of the odor it leaves behind and the extra incurred costs. Even the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) passed a national ban on smoking in all public housing, effecting some 940,000+ units across the states. According to HUD “people who smoke are not protected under the Fair Housing Act and they ‘do not have special legal status.’ Therefore, the department’s smoke-free policy is legal (Lardieri).” This new policy will open the doors for many other property owners to follow suit with no fear of pushback. The desire to control indoor smoking is also for the benefit of the smoker in the long run.
Let’s not forget more importantly, the benefit these bans can have on the smoker and those wanting to quit smoking. I’m sure there are people that can argue personal preference and freedom of choice for tobacco users. Some may feel as though cigarette smokers should be free to indulge when and wherever they’d like, but if you can take a step to save their life, then you should make that change. David Meyers, M.D., M.P.H., professor of Cardiology and Preventive Medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine confirms that “smoking remains the leading preventable risk factor for heart attack (“Banning Smoking”)” and putting a limit on smoking habits can help lower that risk.
Smoking is a want, and smoking cigarettes, although legal, is no less than indulging in any other drug. Cigarette smokers go through similar withdrawal symptoms as other drug addicts. Depending on the level of dependency and severity of the smoking habit, there may be minor withdrawal symptom, but the symptoms are not hazardous and withdrawal symptom typically don’t last more than a few weeks. This just goes to show that waiting until after dinner, a movie, a drink, or until break is not dangerous to the smoker. There are also smokers who would like to quit smoking and deserve the chance to quit in a sympathetic environment without temptation. To this day “The cigarette is the deadliest artefact in the history of human civilization (Proctor 89)”.
All reasons provided above should justify the need for a federal ban on indoor smoking in all public places, and if that’s not enough, consider the youth. In 2000, the “Truth” campaign launched a series of TV ads in hopes creating drastic notice to the effects of smoking and secondhand smoke. If you have not seen the advertisements, picture hundreds of people walking through the streets and all but one falling dead. The one person left standing makes a drastic statement of a statistic ‘Tobacco kills 1,200 people a day. Ever think about taking a day off?” “Truth” turned marketing the effect of tobacco use into a visual representation, one of which shows the number of people dying from cigarette smoke.
The “Truth” campaign ads were aimed at the prevention of the youth turning into tobacco users because it’s been reported that youth and young adults turn into adult daily smoker based on what they see growing up. According to a report from the Surgeon General in 2002 “there is a causal relationship between depictions of smoking in the movies and the initiation of smoking among young people (107)” so what our children are growing to see, is becoming a habit for them as adults. We should limit and ban the public use of tobacco now to reduce the negative effects of tobacco overtime. Reports as early as 2009 show “Public smoking bans appear to significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks, particularly among younger individuals and nonsmokers (“Banning Smoking”).” This confirms that an absolute ban could almost completely reduce the side effects of tobacco overtime. Smokers do not have the right to inconvenience others, even if they chose to inconvenience themselves.
‘Banning Smoking In Public Places And Workplaces Is Good For The Heart, Study Finds.’ American College of Cardiology. ScienceDaily, 22 September 2009. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090921173121.htm
Frazer K, Callinan JE, McHugh J, van Baarsel S, Clarke A, Doherty K, Kelleher C. Legislative smoking bans for reducing harms from secondhand smoke exposure, smoking prevalence and tobacco consumption. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD005992. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005992.pub3.
Lardieri, Alexa. “Smoking Ban to Take Effect in Public Housing Nationwide.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 13 July 2018, 12:34 pm, www.usnews.com/news/health-care-news/articles/2018-07-13/smoking-ban-to-take-effect-in-public-housing-nationwide.
Proctor, Robert N. “The History of the Discovery of the Cigarette–Lung Cancer Link: Evidentiary Traditions, Corporate Denial, Global Toll.” Tobacco Control, vol. 21, no. 2, 16 Feb. 2012, pp. 87–91., doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2011-050338.
“Secondhand Smoke: Dangers.” Cleveland Clinic, 30 Jan. 2017, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10644-secondhand-smoke-dangers.
“Smokefree Policies Improve Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 Dec. 2016, www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/protection/improve_health/index.htm.
Surgeon General. Preventing Tobacco Use among Youth and Young Adults. a Report of the Surgeon General. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK99237/.
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