Have you ever been walking down the street and all of sudden get a whiff of the cigarette smoke coming from the nearby smoker? Many people have complained that cigarette smoke should be banned in public places due to extreme health risks. Health experts, politicians, business people and the general public have debated a smoking ban on cigarettes for many years. However the issue of smoking bans is complex and there are several things that must be considered. In addition to the health advantages there are also questions concerning the economic impact on smoking bans on state and local communities, and the rights of smokers and non- smokers.
Smoking in public places should be banned because of the negative effects of passive smoke on smokers. Banning smoking in public places such as parks and beaches in the United States will lower the overall rate of heart disease and emphysema amongst the general population of this country. The American Heart Association (A. HA. ) stated that, “Cigarette smoke should be banned from work and public places as an environmental toxin. ” (Ban is urged on Cigarette Smoke in Public Places)
According to the A. H. A, there is a great deal of evidence that proves that exposure to the smoke of other people’s cigarettes enhances the possibilities amongst non-smokers of acquiring maladies such as lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema. The A. H. A supports legislation to strengthen smoking standards and increase education on the risks of smoking. They have also requested education for the general public on the health risks of second hand smoke. Dr. Homayoun Kazemi, MD, chief emeritus of the Pulmonary and Critical Care Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital said. I don’t think we have to debate whether environmental tobacco causes disease. The evidence is there. ”(Ban is urged on Cigarette Smoke in Public Places) Many smokers disregard the fact that when they smoke around other people it is not only affecting themselves but also others around them. Secondhand smoke is one of the main causes that people develop heart disease and cancers. Although some places are having a hard time deciding whether or not smoking should be banned in public places others are moving fast with these bans and are seeing positive results.
One place where a smoking ban is having a positive effect on lowering the rate of heart disease amongst the non-smoking population is Scotland. A year after Scotland banned smoking in public places, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that hospital admissions for heart attacks and coronary problems fell seventeen percent. (Singer-Vine) According to Professor Jill Pell of the University of Glasgow found that the overall reduction of hospitalizations from non-smokers fell sixty-seven percent.
Edith Balbach, Director of the Community Health Program at Tufts University and president of Americans for Nonsmokers Rights stated, “These findings should add considerable oomph to the pressure for smoking bans elsewhere because of the study’s rigor and use of blood tests. ” (Singer-Vine) I believe that Balbach has a point, if the conducted studies are showing remarkable effects many other places should consider this for when they have to decide to ban the smoking or not.
Currently, there is no Federal ban on smoking in public places in the United States with the exception of Federal Buildings. President Clinton enacted laws banning smoking in Federal Government buildings in 1997. Proponents of smoking bans have mostly aimed their efforts at State and local governments. According to the organization, Americans for Nonsmokers Rights, more than eighty-one percent of the population of the United States is subject to some form of a smoking ban, which restricts smoking in public areas and/or workplaces.
There are now over twenty-eight states that have bans on smoking in public areas according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Singer-Vine) New York City is one of those few cities that have a ban on smoking in public places in the United States. In 2011, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the law stating that it is illegal to smoke in New York City’s parks, beaches, and pedestrian plazas including Times Square. (Saul) The responsibility of enforcing the new law fell on the officials of the Parks Department.
Violations of the smoking bans can cost offenders fifty dollars per incident, but officials say they are hopeful that people will adhere to the new legislation so that fines will not be necessary. The citizen’s views on the new law have been mixed. Karen Almonte, a thirty-one year old citizen of New York stated, “I have to leave the park to smoke and then come back? It’s not fair. ” (Saul) Whereas, Chris Goodwin, a seventy-three year old spoke in favor of the ban, “The Smoke really bothers me. ” (Saul) These two people both live in New York but have very different views on the smoking ban.
Almonte thinks it is unfair whereas Goodwin likes it because he does not like how the smoke affects him. Not everyone agrees with the concept of banning cigarettes in public places. Opposition to smoking bans has been strong throughout the Midwestern and Southern states in the United States. Many businessmen in the food and hospitality industries including bar and restaurant owners vigorously oppose smoking bans because they fear that the bans would have a negative impact on their businesses. The smoking ban that was passed in Michigan known as the “Dr.
Ron Davis Smoke Free Air Law” took effect in May of 2010 and since it has been passed there has been challenges in the courts by many bar owners. (Cook) Even though the smoking ban has dramatically changed the affects of people developing heart conditions, it has a great negative effect on restaurant and bar owners because now less and less people who smoke are coming because they now have to smoke outside. The Michigan State court rejected a challenge to the smoking ban by a former bar owner because his bar has closed.
Attorney Ted Andris stated, “This argument about the smoking ban in terms of it’s terrible impact on blue collar bars is not over,” and also later said “There are many mom and pop businesses being tremendously damaged or put out of business completely. ” (Cook) These quotes symbolize the negative effects the ban has on these bar owners but also shows that they will not give up on their businesses. I believe that these bar and restaurant owners should be able to have a different area for smokers if that is what it would take to keep their businesses running.
The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association is attempting to change the ban to allow designated areas for smoking such as smoke rooms or patios. This could help increase the bar and restaurant business. In the State of Kansas, proposals to ban smoking in public places had failed three times until a ban was finally passed in July of 2012. There is currently a bill in the state legislature that would weaken the ban by allowing smoking in places where anyone under the age of twenty-one is not permitted. The proposed legislation is opposed by health professionals but strongly favored by owners of bars and nightclubs.
Health officials in Kansas opposed the bill claiming that if passed it would lead to increased exposure to tobacco. Mary Jane Helleust of the Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition stated, “With the State of Kansas committed to improving health and reducing medical costs for chronic diseases, why reverse a significant health standard that has been operating effectively for eighteen months” Dr. John Neuberger, Professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine believes that adding exemptions to Kansas’s smoking ban is going in the wrong direction.
Dr. Neuberger stated, “The current law should be strengthened by reducing or eliminating exemptions instead of increasing them. ” The current law in Kansas allows exemptions to the smoking bans for smoke shops, state licensed casinos, and some private clubs. (Shields) Sheila Martin, proprietor of the Top Hat Tavern in Hutchinson Kansas testified before the State Legislature that her business suffered financial losses as a result of the smoking ban. However Duane Goossen of the Kansas Health Institute refuted that testimony.
Mr. Goossen testified that revenue collected from State taxes on liquor sales has actually increased since the ban went into effect. Sales taxes from establishments serving alcohol increased from twenty-one million in the year 2010 to twenty-eight million in the year 2011. Studies have shown that smoking bans in public places have not had any major negative impact on revenues and in fact had a positive effect on the economy. In Delaware a study was conducted by the Public Health and Environment Conference of the American Public Health Association that found in state revenue derived from the gaming industry.
The gaming industry increased its revenue from about five million dollars that year after its smoking ban went into effect. Also employment in the hospitality industry increased from 27,900 workers in the restaurants and bars to 28,100 workers. (Mandell 10) Although many people are in favor of the smoking ban there are people that have criticisms about the ban. One criticism of smoking bans in the United States is that there are no standards since we do not currently have any type of national smoking ban.
Some states have statewide bans while in others bans on smoking are legislated at the local level. Some cities allow certain exceptions to their smoking bans such as Kansas City, which allows for exemptions from the smoking ban for smoke shops and casinos. Dave Pever manager of the Peppermill Lounge South in Kansas City lamented, “Our daytime business is down seventy percent. The biggest problem is that smokers who made up ninety percent the clientele before the ban can drive half a mile to Grandview, MO where smoking is still allowed in bars.
When it’s just a citywide ban and you have several cities around without the ban, it’s unfair. ” (Cook) One potential solution to the issue, which Mr. Pever raises, is to develop a nationwide smoking ban in the United States. Since 2004, national bans on cigarette smoking have been successfully implemented in Ireland, Norway, New Zealand, Uruguay, Italy, Scotland, Lithuania and British Virgin Islands. The result has been millions of people are protected from second hand smoke that can lead to coronary and lung diseases as well as emphysema.
The trend towards smoking bans is continuing. The European Union is currently considering implementing some form of smoking ban for its members. France, England, Wales, Kazakhstan and Finland are also considering implementing some form of legislation to make cigarette smoking banned from public areas. (Schmidt) There is no doubt that a national smoking ban in the United States would be met with strong opposition from groups such as Libertarians who favor the rights of people to make their own choices and deplore government involvement in people’s lives.
However life is valued in this country and laws, which prevent smoking in public areas, have been proven to be effective in improving the health of the general population. The rights of non-smokers not to be exposed to harmful chemicals must be taken into consideration as well. “Ban Is Urged on Cigarette Smoke in Public Places. ” The New York Times 11 June 1992 Cook, James. “Michigan Smoking Ban Opponents Vow to Continue Lawsuit. ” The Oakland Press 08 October 2012. Mandel, L L, Alamar, B C, and Glantz, S A. Smoke-free law did not affect revenue from gaming in Delaware. ” American Public Health Association 9 November 2004 Saul, Michael. “Hot Air Over City’s New Smoking Ban. ” The Wall Street Journal 24 May 2011. Schmidt, Charles W. “Change in the Air: Smoking Bans Gain Momentum Worldwide” Environmental Health Perspectives August 2007 Shields, Mike. “Bill Would Ease Kansas Smoking Ban. ” Kansas Health Institute March 2012 Singer-Vine, Jeremy. “Study Supports Health Benefits of Smoking Ban. ” The Wall Street Journal 31 July 2008.