Have you ever come home with the stench of smoke clinging to your clothes? Or inhaled a cloud of smoke as a group of smokers passed, causing you to cough and choke? Neither experience is pleasant, and this is why smoking should be banned in public areas.
Smoking can be dangerous not only for the smoker, but also for those around the smoker. Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death (after active smoking and alcohol), according to the Manitoba Medical Association. They also say that the smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, 50 of which are known to be cancer-related. Secondhand smoke has been linked to heart and respiratory disease; lung, breast, cervical, and nasal sinus cancers; strokes and miscarriages. In children, dangers include sudden infant death syndrome, fetal growth impairment, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma and middle-ear disease. People who smoke subject themselves to deadly diseases, as well as long- and short-term health problems. Non-smokers should not have to live with the consequences of smokers' actions.
Not permitting smoking in public areas may help people refrain from smoking. Some argue that there would be a significant decline in the clientele in bars and clubs, but non-smokers actually outnumber smokers three to one. A ban could actually increase people going out because nonsmokers would be more comfortable.
There may also be a sudden realization of the dangers of smoking. With the state government taking a stand, it may cause people to take another look at the deadly factors of "cancer sticks."
After a recent incident from the widely known Target Market program, people are beginning to feel that anti-tobacco efforts are losing their focus. At a local event a couple years ago, a punk band hired by the anti-drug campaign played songs that included positive images of cigarettes and other drugs in their lyrics. This is not the most efficient way to use money set aside for anti-drug programs. Instead, this money could be used to enforce the laws that should be passed to ban smoking in public places.
Sometimes those you think would be against the idea of making smoking illegal actually agree with it. Patrick Reynolds, heir to the tobacco empire, rejected becoming president of his family's tobacco company because it was proven to have caused both his father's and his older brother's deaths. Now, he runs a campaign to stop people from smoking. In his presentation, he states that a smoker will spend about $1,400 a year for one pack a day. Reynolds also says that the more secondhand smoke you inhale, the more susceptible you are to health problems. People working in casinos, for example, are up to eight times as likely to be in danger of the effects of secondhand smoke. Banning smoking in public places can prevent death and illness.
Some say that no matter what, nothing will reduce or stop cigarette smoking altogether. The laws banning smoking might convince some to quit and create a safer environment for everyone else. Also, some argue that there isn't money to carry this out. The money that goes into programs such as Target Market and Big Tobacco will be cut and the difference will go toward law enforcement.
Smoking is a dangerous habit that not only affects the smoker, but those around him or her. Banning the smoking in public will keep non-smokers safer. People who smoke subject themselves to deadly diseases by choice. Why should non-smokers be forced to be around it?
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.