Public Policy Against Public Smoking in the US

Subject: Public Health
Pages: 6
Words: 1403
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: Bachelor


During the 19th century, not many people of the developing industrial era were in favor of restrictions and policies, which banned smoking. However, at the turn of the next century a number of moral and social reformers irritated and annoyed with the local people who used to consume tobacco and alcohol started to demand that the state and federal lawmakers take certain stern actions against them. At first, the Americans believed that the prohibitions were for their good but slowly they became disillusioned and began to defy the laws. In addition, the powerful and rich people in the American society conspired with the gangsters who suffered losses due to the bans in order to maintain usage of tobacco among the public. However, the perception about public smoking has gradually changed with several public policies against smoking in public and each policy is working for the good of all but there is a need for more policies to develop a healthy nation.


Back in 1818, smoking on the streets was banned in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and their mayor was even penalized when he broke the law. Later on in 1840, Boston, Massachusetts, also banned smoking. More than fifty years later legislations were also introduced in Washington in 1893 that banned both the consumption and sale of cigarettes. Later in 1907, Washington also passed a legislation that banned the manufacturing, selling, exchange and distribution of cigarettes along with cigarette wrappers and papers. In 1898, Tennessee imposed a total ban on cigarettes and this was soon followed by Indiana in 1905. On 21 January 1908, the Sullivan Ordinance was passed by the New York City Council for prohibiting women from smoking tobacco at places other than their homes. However, the mayor vetoed it after 14 days of its enactment. In 1914, one of the strongest steps against smoking was taken by the USA when smoking was even prohibited in the American Senate. Nevertheless, later by 1927, most of these states had repealed their prohibitions on the trade of cigarettes and Kansas was the last state to do so. These bans turned out to be unsuccessful experiments and had many disastrous consequences since most people were against it and finally all the prohibitions were lifted in 1933.

Solution 1

However, it should be mentioned, over the years, smoking policies have had much advancement. Robertson reports that one of them was when the Nebraska Supreme Court invalidated the temporary exemptions enjoyed by some of the tobacco shops, keno parlors and bars on 30 May 2008. Nevertheless, the state and federal governments should not compromise with the policies banning smoking, like in the case of New Jersey otherwise these policies will remain weak and will never be able to fulfill their terms. It should be noted that “On October 1, 2007, Public Chapter 410 became effective in the State of Tennessee. This new law bans smoking in almost all enclosed public places throughout the state and has many citizens outraged, but much more thankful” (Robertson 1).

Solution 2

American Cancer Society indicates that the individuals and businesses that violate any of the anti-smoking policies and laws should be fined, every time so that they understand that what they are doing is causing harm to their own country. Only then will in future these policies and laws be able to implement their terms. Until and unless the USA has strict policies against smoking, the health of our future generation will not be safe. In the future, there are many policies, which are more restrictive than the present ones. Like the ban commissioned by the Boston Public Health Commission that will come into effect on 9th February 2019 for banning smoking even in cigar and hookah bars. There are specific reasons for that. “The US Surgeon General has said, ‘Smoking cessation (stopping smoking) represents the single most important step that smokers can take to enhance the length and quality of their lives“(American Cancer Society 1).

Opposition view

However, it is believed by some that the general mass understands their own good and there is no need to implement laws, regulations and anti-smoking policies. This section of the mass believes that the people should make their own choice about their preference and smoking or quitting smoking should be left to individual choice. The government should not intervene at any point. This group believes that the future of these smoking policies lies in the hands of the public and there is no need to implement or formulate policies by force. The local governments should exempt the private organizations that function towards the sampling and promotion of tobacco-related products but rather need to strengthen their anti-smoking campaigns to influence people and make them quit smoking by their own choice.

Common solution

However, in general, public policies regarding the issue are of utmost importance. The restrictiveness and prevalence of these smoking laws and policies have to date been able to contain the smoking habits of the citizens and have even been able to improve the quality of air in the USA. In addition, the success and failure of these anti-smoking policies vary according to their occupation, age, habits and gender of the people. Many reports have also accounted that there has been a steady decline in the quality and implementation of the smoking policies since the smoking rates had been leveled off during 1990 and 1997 in the USA but for the last decade, these policies have had a very positive effect on the people of USA. The other states of the USA need to make their policies tougher like those of New York City after which it was observed by the Department of Health in 2004 that the levels of air pollution in New York decreased six times after the ban came into effect. All the policies and bans on smoking need to be made state laws so that they supersede all other county and local smoking laws and as a result are more tough and strict.

Analysis: Personal view

More and more workplaces, restaurants, bus stations, airports, schools, universities and households all over the USA are taking up policies for completely banning smoking and thus, these smoking policies have spread all over the country. The future of these smoking bans looks very bright since almost 90% of all the USA states have enforced some policy for banning smoking, although the effects of the ban vary a lot. Some of them were never put into effect until late 2009 or 2010 and others have been dated even five and ten years later. However, no matter how long it takes the states of the USA have come together to make their country completely smoke-free. “About 70% of smokers say they want to quit and about 40% try to quit each year, but only 4% to 7% succeed without help. This is because smokers not only become physically addicted to nicotine; there is a strong emotional (psychological) aspect and they often link smoking with many social activities. All of these factors make smoking a hard habit to break” (Cancer 1). It should be noted that California banned smoking in 1994 and additionally, people were not allowed to smoke within 20 feet of any window or door of a government buildings, public universities or private firms. It is also banned on the streets, outside shopping malls and the outdoor patios of restaurants and people caught smoking in these areas are fined almost $500. On 1 April 2004, Connecticut imposed the Clean Indoor Air Act that prohibited smoking at almost all workplaces and enclosed public areas that included restaurants and bars.


In a final statement, it should be stated that smoking was banned in the state of Arizona when in November 2006 more than 50% of voters supported their Smoke-Free Arizona Act that banned smoking at workplaces, restaurants and bars and people were not allowed to smoke within 20 feet of any exit or entry. This bam was imposed on first May, 2007. However, there is much more o be done. An article published in The Reader’s Digest reminds us that “For all the intense efforts to reduce smoking in America over the past two decades, the progress has not been stellar. Today one in four men and one in five women still smoke” (The Reader’s Digest 1). Thus, there is still more need of government policies in order to stop this habit of public smoking.

Works Cited

  1. American Cancer Society. ‘Guide to Quitting Smoking’. Cancer org, 2010. Web.
  2. Cancer. ‘Cigarette Smoking’., 2010. Web.
  3. Robertson, Peter. ‘For the Greater Good. Associated Contents, 2008.
  4. The Reader’s Digest. ‘25 Ways to Stop Smoking Cigarettes’. The Reader’s Digest, 2010.