Smoking ban policies are implemented in some American states and cities but the contentions on whether they are necessary and relevant are still heard from supporters and critics. Restrictions on cigarette smoking can be traced back as early the 16th century and up to now, this issue remains to be controversial.
Smoking ban is a policy that prohibits smoking in public places like restaurants, workplaces, parks, malls, government offices and schools, among others. There are policies implemented statewide and there are some that only restrict smoking in public places but not in enclosed areas.
To get an idea on how people are taking smoking bans, here are some of the views expressed by proponents and opponents.
List of Pros of Smoking Bans
1. They reduce the risk of second-hand smoke.
Advocates for smoking bans claim that passing a law to prohibit smoking in public places can lessen the possibility of second-hand smoke being inhaled by non-smokers. Second-hand smoke, according to experts, can lead to increased risk to emphysema, cardiovascular disorders and respiratory problems. By restricting the places where smoking is allowed, this can be prevented.
2. They lessen air pollution.
Supporters also say that states and cities which have non-smoking policies and prohibited smoking in restaurants and public indoor spaces have better indoor air quality as opposed to cities which still allow smoking public.
3. They improve work productivity.
Proponents point out that not all people smoke at the office. If smoking is allowed, non-smokers can still inhale the smoke and it can be bothersome for them to smell the smoke. On the other hand, if it is prohibited, employees can be more productive. They also added that smoking can cause respiratory infections and smokers are prone to these. If employees smoke less, chances are, the risk of getting sick is minimized.
4. They reduce healthcare costs.
Advocates maintain their position about the benefits of smoking bans by saying that reports indicate reduced health costs in cities were smoking are restricted. And since health care costs take around 9.3% of the country’s GDP, reducing it can affect the economy in a positive way.
5. They decrease the possibility of fires.
Smoking can increase the risks of fire in places with highly flammable materials. There have been instances of fires which started from lit cigarettes. Moreover, accidents related to explosions at work sites can also happen if smoking will not be prohibited.
6. They reduce wastes.
Cigarette butts are non-biodegradable and can clog water systems if thrown recklessly. With banning smoking in public places, there will be lesser cigarette butts and lesser toxic garbage that can be stuck in water systems.
7. They contribute to lower energy consumption and personal expenses.
If smoking is banned in public places such as malls and restaurants, there will be lesser need to use ventilation and this can result to lesser energy consumption and in effect, lesser expense. As for smokers, advocates say that an individual who smokes a pack a day spends less than $20 each day and around $720 a year. With smoking bans, it can reduce the expense for cigarette purchase of a smoker in half.
8. They result to cleaner areas where food is prepared and manufactured.
With restricting smoking, supporters posit that this can ensure cleanliness is observed in food preparation in restaurants and in the streets. Moreover, smoking bans in workplaces and pharmaceuticals also contribute to cleaner indoor quality as well as maintaining cleanliness.
9. They lessen the chance of influencing others to take on the habit.
Supporters for smoking bans claim that cigarette smoking is also considered a status symbol and some teenagers can be influenced to smoke just to fit it. If these young people will be exposed to smoking less, they will not be easily tempted to try.
List of Cons of Smoking Bans
1. They take away freedom from people.
Some critics see smoking bans as a violation on one’s personal liberty. They argue that people should have the autonomy to decide on what kind of lifestyle they will have. Although they are not totally against banning smoking, they say that it should be a personal choice.
2. They can affect businesses.
Business owners who are not in favor of smoking bans as well as smokers who are used to smoking in public places such as restaurants and coffee shops argue that restricting smoking in these places can drive customers away and this can be harmful to businesses. And as for establishments which are already smoke-free, competition will be higher. It will also be harder for them to leverage since there will be more businesses that are smoke-free.
3. They are not effective.
Groups not really in favor of smoking bans say that they are not effective since smokers will just be usually told to leave and that penalties are not stiff. Smoking ban policies do not have enough teeth since repercussions are not harsh enough.
4. They drive people to smokers to smoke somewhere else.
Some critics contend that banning smoking in some places just leaves smokers no choice but to do it somewhere else. They mentioned that this can even lead to increase cases of DUI fatalities since smokers might drive to other places just so they can smoke.
5. They result to lesser tax revenues for the government.
People against smoking bans are concerned on the effect on government revenues if the push for smoke-free states will be implemented. They say that the government earns from high taxes paid by tobacco manufacturers and smokers. If cigarettes will be reduced, this would mean lesser taxes and lesser revenue for the government.
The controversy on smoking bans is not to leave the debate arena soon. There will always be people who will advocate for banning smoking in public places for concerns on health issues and fire hazards. However, there are also those who are firm in opposing it. And although there is a higher percentage of people who are behind smoking bans, imposing these policies nationwide is not going to happen in the near future because the views of people will always be divided.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.