Smoking cigarettes and whether it should be banned in public places has been debated for several decades. Some smokers feel that they have the right to smoke; while some non-smokers feel that they should not have to deal with other people’s secondhand smoke. While some states such as New York State have banned smoking in all of it bars, schools, workplaces, and restaurants (State of New York – Regulation of Smoking in Public and Work Places, 2009), other states such as Pennsylvania continue to allow individuals to smoke in certain public places, such as bars, casinos, and tobacco shops (Workplace smoking rules in Pennsylvania, 2012). I feel that smoking cigarettes should be banned in all public places. There are several reasons that I feel that smoking should be banned in all public places, which I will explain in this essay.
First off, I do not think that anybody has the right to subject somebody else to a habit that it not their habit. Unlike drinking or chewing tobacco, smoking cigarettes does affect other people, the smoke staying in the air that people breathe. If a person is eating in a restaurant or out in a bar, they should not have to breathe in smoke from somebody else’s cigarette. A smoker does not have the right to subject somebody else to bad health. If a person is out in a public place and has a respiratory illness, such as asthma, cigarette smoke can make their condition worse and possible bring on an asthma attack, especially in a child. Nobody deserves to have their health compromised by another person’s bad habit.
The research supports how bad smoking really is. Secondhand smoke has been associated with a highly propensity of getting certain diseases, such as lung cancer, respiratory and heart diseases, strokes, emphysema, COPD, and high blood pressure. Individuals who frequent public places are often exposed to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke and the smoke that a smoker breathes in are different. While sidestream smoke is defined as the smoke that comes from the burning end of a lit cigarette, cigar, or pipe, mainstream smoke is the smoke that the smoker breathes out. Sidestream smoke is actually more dangerous, this type of smoke having more carcinogens, which are cancer causing agents. Since secondhand smoke is both sidestream and mainstream smoke, secondhand smoke is more dangerous. Tobacco smoke contains about 7,000 chemicals, 250 of them dangerous, and 69 of these chemicals have been said to cause cancer. These chemicals are an environmental hazard (Secondhand smoke: What is seocondhand smoke?, 2014).
Unfortunately, secondhand smoke has been also connected to many diseases and physical complaints. According to the American Cancer Society website, secondhand smoke has been linked to the following negative outcomes: “An estimated 42,000 deaths from heart disease in people who are current non-smokers. About 3,400 lung cancer deaths in non-smoking adults. Worse asthma and asthma-related problems in up to 1 million asthmatic children. Between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections (lung and bronchus) in children under 18 months of age, with 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations each year” (Secondhand smoke: What is seocondhand smoke?, 2014, paragraph 12). Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke also show more negative consequences in terms of healing. They show a greater chance of being placed into intensive care when they are suffering from the flu. These children also end up enduring a longer hospital stay and also show a bigger chance of needing breathing tubes versus children who are not subjected to secondhand smoke.
There is also another type of smoke that is now being noted as dangerous, this type of smoke known as thirdhand or residual tobacco smoke. This is the kind of smoke that settles on dust and other surfaces, this type of smoke sticking to these surfaces for months after the smoking has ceased. While thirdhand smoke may not seem like it is that dangerous, research shows that this smoke does contain carcinogens. This can be especially dangerous to children, which brings up another important issue. How much thirdhand smoke currently sits in public places, such as restaurants, bars, and other establishments where smoking is still prohibited? While most of these places are cleaned and disinfected regularly, it is hard to get rid of every piece of dust in public places. When samples of this thirdhand smoke residue were tested in laboratories and subjected to cell cultures, it was found to damage the DNA of human cells. This DNA damage may cause more problems down the road (Secondhand smoke: What is seocondhand smoke?, 2014).
Not allowing smoking in public places has shown some positive outcomes. Studies conducted with hospitality workers after anti-smoking laws were enacted also showed some interesting results. Once New York State created its smoke-free policies, hospitality workers experience a significant decrease in nose, ear, throat, and eye irritation. Prior to the piece of legislation, about 60% of hospitality workers said that the suffered from respiratory issues, such as coughing upon waking up, not being to breathe at times, and having some phlegm. However, the amount of workers who had a morning cough after the new law was only about 46%” (Secondhand smoke: Worker health, 2011).
The research also examined symptoms of bartenders. Bartenders who worked in bars where patrons were allowed to smoke exhibited more of the following physical problems: runny nose, irritated eyes, coughing in the morning and at the end of the day, and a scratchy or irritated throat. Non-smoking bartenders in Wisconsin also showed some marked improvements after Wisconsin’s anti-smoking policy was implemented four years ago. These workers experienced a reduction in upper respiratory symptoms (Secondhand smoke: Worker health, 2011).
I feel that smoking in public places should not be allowed. Direct inhalation of smoke, as well as secondhand, sidestream, and third hand smoke have been shown to cause problems and illnesses. These include such respiratory symptoms, COPD, emphysema, cancer, and ear and throat issues. Subjecting other people to smoking in public places is also not fair and infringes on one’s right to have good health and not breathe in smoke that they are not smoking. Nobody should have to inhale other people’s smoke.
- “Secondhand smoke: What is secondhand smoke?” 11 February 2014. American Cancer Society, Inc. Print . 20 April 2016.
- “Secondhand smoke: Worker health.” 18 July 2011. Americans for NonSmokers’ Rights website. Web. 19 April 2016
- “State of New York – Regulation of Smoking in Public and Work Places.” December 2009. New York State Department of Health website.
- “Workplace smoking rules in Pennsylvania.” 22 June 2012. Bizfilings.com.