Smoking in Public Places Should it Be Allowed?


Smoking is an expensive habit to maintain. It is not just about the cost involved in purchasing a pack of cigarettes but the overall impact on the life of a smoker. Instead of saving money used on maintaining a smoking habit, the money can be put into good use. But the dollars and cents involved in the consumption of cigarettes pale in comparison to the amount of money needed to fight the inevitable effect of smoking – decline in health and many cases it means respiratory problems and cancer. One can just imagine the hundreds of millions of dollars wasted each year not only when it comes to medical bills but also the poor performance of those who are already feeling the initial stages of smoking-related illnesses. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to addiction to inhaling cigarette smoke because it was also discovered that even non-smokers can suffer the same fate. This is because of a phenomenon known as passive smoking. In this regard, it is imperative to implement a smoking ban in public places as soon as possible.

Cost of the Habit

There are many ways for a tobacco product to kill a human being. For instance, smoking cigarettes, cigars, and other variations of rolled-tobacco leaves can destroy healthy lungs and reduce them into something that can no longer perform its expected functions. But lung cancer is only one of the ways that lead to premature death. Cancer, pre-cancerous lesions, and other abnormalities can develop in the oral cavity that will lead to serious pain and even death. There is also a serious effect on the oral cavity, especially when it comes to the lips, teeth, gums, and soft palate in the rear.

The problem with smoking is that it is highly addictive. The most potent drug found in cigarettes is nicotine. “Nicotine creates stimulant effects by activating the acetylcholine system in the brain […] it excites neurons, increasing their activity and producing mental stimulation (Spinella,p. 50-51). Nicotine is addictive because of the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Spinella adds, ” Nicotine increases blood flow and energy usage by the brain […] activates the limbic system in a way consistent with improving mood and making people feel good” (2005, p. 53). However, a careful analysis of the negative effects could easily diminish temporary gain of relaxation and other possible benefits of nicotine when compared to the deadly effects of smoking. This is because smoking does not only deliver nicotine but a host of chemicals that are either toxic or carcinogenic or cancer-causing.

This nasty habit is responsible for thousands of deaths each year. Every time cigarette smoke is inhaled the smoker takes in harmful chemicals such as nicotine, tar, etc. through the oral cavity and the lungs. It is therefore a common occurrence to hear that someone died from smoking-related deaths. And yet there are still many who are getting hooked into the deadly habit every day for the lack of knowledge. Smoking is a dangerous habit because one puff of smoke releases 4,000 chemicals into the air and this can harm the smoker as well as non-smokers (CDC, par.3) Non-smokers and smokers alike will be affected by secondhand smoke. There is therefore a need to ban public smoking to protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke. It is now clear that in a public place like a bus station, coffee shop, entrance to buildings, etc., smokers who lit up a cigarette in these places are not only harming their health but also non-smokers merely passing by or forced to wait in that area.

Before going any further it is important to first clarify what is meant by secondhand smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, secondhand smoke – also known as environmental tobacco smoke – is a mixture of gases and fine particles that includes the following: 1) smoke from a burning cigarette, cigar, or pipe tip; 2) smoke that has been exhaled or breathed out by the person or people smoking; and 3) at least 250 toxic chemicals, including more than 50 that can cause cancer (CDC, par. 1). Aside from cancer, secondhand smoke is known to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases (Gupta, par. 5). One of the most compelling reasons why smoking in public must be banned.

The urgency to ban smoking in public places was bolstered by a 2002 study made in Helena, Montana. The city passed an ordinance banning indoor smoking and in just six months there was a 40% drop in the number of heart attacks (Gupta, par. 2). Smoking can cause irreparable damage to the physical self rendering that person less productive, disabled, or dead. Smoking cigarettes can make a non-smoker sick through second-hand smoke. In 2002 the International Agency for Research on Cancer released their findings and it states, “Half of all chronic smokers are killed by a tobacco-related disease, with half of those deaths occurring between ages 35 and 69 … those killed by tobacco lose an average of 20 to 25 years of life expectancy” (Moyer, p. 25). Habitual smoking can also cause irreparable damage to the mind and body.

In 2003 The World Health Organization declared that numerous cancers have been linked to smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke and this includes the following, “…lung cancer, head and neck cancers (including esophagus, larynx, tongue, salivary glands, lip, mouth, and pharynx), urinary bladder, and kidney cancers, uterine, cervix, breast, pancreas, and colon cancers (Sloan,p.200). Furthermore, pregnant mothers have also affected as well as the fetus growing inside them. According to Poswilo and Alberman the consequence of such indulgence is the premature development of the baby – affecting future abilities and behavior – and in worst cases death of the infant (Rassool,p. 31). U.S. Social Security is threatened by increased healthcare costs due to smoking-related illnesses. Sloan’s remarks is made clear when one looks at an example of a Social Security program, like say the Social Security Disability Insurance which provides income support for persons under the age of 65 who are work disabled (Sloan, p. 134). These numbers are alarming but something can be done to radically alter the trend.

Smoking Ban

According to the American Cancer Society, it is imperative to ban smoking in public (Rosen, par. 1) When non-smokers take in secondhand smoke, it is called involuntary or passive smoking. Nevertheless, they also take in nicotine and toxic chemicals as if they are directly smoking the cigarette, albeit in lesser concentrations (Rosen, par. 2). This simply means that smoking in public places releases nicotine and toxic chemicals that can be inhaled by passersby and those who are close to a burning cigarette.

In another report experts assert that “Even a small amount of exposure to secondhand smoke can increae in blood clotting, constrict blood vessels and can cause a heart attack” (Belluck, par.3). Although the fact is overwhelming it must also be pointed out that those who imposed a ban on smoking in public experienced positive results. For instance, there were different communities in countries like Canada, Italy, Scotland, and the United States that imposed bans on smoking, and research showed that there was a decline in the number of heart attacks. Secondhand smoke is a major health risk and so smokers should not be allowed to smoke in public.

The number of people who are weakened or sick because of respiratory-related problems will contribute to non-productivity. These people will become a burden to their company. If a great number of people cannot go to the workplace then there is a substantial effect on the productivity of the nation. However, if these same people begin to develop more complicated problems such as lung cancer then a significant amount of taxpayer’s money is spent on something entirely preventable. Nevertheless, it is not easy to simply issue a citywide or even countrywide ban on smoking.

It may be an uphill climb for most communities but the fight to secure a smoking ban in public places in a particular community or city must be supported. Business people, as well as local officials, must understand that if an employee is sick a great degree of the operation will be hampered. The economy will be affected. As mentioned earlier there is a need to understand that the health care system will experience some problems in the early stages but for those who are willing to get involved it is time for the people to speak out what they need.

Some businesses will be affected by a ban on smoking in public places. For example, a restaurant or a bar will be severely affected if it will suddenly implement this ban thereby forcing customers to find other establishments where it is not yet illegal to smoke. These are some of the issues that have to be dealt with for people to embrace the idea of banning smoking in public. However, it can be argued that the money lost in taxes cannot be compared to the economic losses of a nation or a community that lose their most productive citizens to smoking-related sickness.

Conclusion

Some habits make someone unproductive. Some make someone a nuisance to others and some habits can kill. But there is one habit that could cause all three This habit is none other than smoking cigarettes. It is easy to understand the fact that if one takes in harmful chemicals through the inhalation of cigarette smoke can cause cancers and other serious forms of health problems due to carcinogens and other harmful substances present in a stick of cigarette. But the most alarming problem is the fact that second-hand smoke also kills. This is because non-smokers are unaware that second-hand smoke carries with it the potential to increase risks of heart attacks as well as related ailments. On the other hand, it must also be pointed out that communities that adopted smoking bans experienced a significant reduction of heart attacks. It is therefore imperative to ban smoking in public places.

Works Cited

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2011. CDC. Web.

Gupta, Sanjay. “Heath: Up in Smoke.” Time Magazine Archives. 2004. Web.

Moyer, David. The Tobacco Book: A Reference Guide of Facts, Figures, and Quotations about Tobacco. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Sunstone Press, 2005.

Rassool, Hussein. Substance Use & Misuse: Nature, Context, and Clinical Interventions. Malden, MA: Blackwell Science Ltd., 2003.

Rosen, Leo. “Secondhand Smoke.” Cancer.org. 2010. Web.

Sloan, Frank et al. The Price of Smoking. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2005.

Spinella, Marcello. Concise Handbook of Psychoactive Herbs: Medicinal Herbs for Treating Psychological and Neurological Problems. New York: Binghamton, 2005.