Many people debate over where government intervention is appropriate and personal freedom should begin. One of these highly discussed topics is banning smoking in public places. The ban of smoking in public has many advantages and reasons. Smoking in public puts innocent adults, teenagers, and children at risk of serious health problems. If smoking is banned in public, this may help lower rates of potential smokers and current smokers as well. The welfare of the nonsmoker and the smoker are both affected by allowing smoking in public. By banning smoking in these areas, the population would be positively influenced.
America is recognized for its laws regarding freedom. By allowing smoking in public places, we are taking away the freedom of health from nonsmokers. Through banning areas where smoking is permitted, we limit freedoms of the smoker, but do not eliminate the freedom entirely. The ban would be seen more as a restriction on where these freedoms can be exercised to ensure well being for all people, smokers and nonsmokers. These limitations are for the good of the American people as a whole, which makes the ban an appropriate course of action.
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Arguments can be made for the opposing side as well, but these arguments only consider the smoker, not the people that smoking affects. Where does government involvement end and personal responsibility begin? The preamble to the Constitution states: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America” (U.
S. Const. , Preamble). The phrases “promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty” applies to this issue. The government allowing smoking in public places is not promoting the general welfare. It is negatively influencing smokers and nonsmokers, without the consent of the nonsmokers. The blessings of liberty or freedoms of nonsmokers are being taken away or limited by the effects of secondhand smoke. By banning smoking in public areas, the government is upholding the ideas our forefathers deemed worthy enough to include at the very beginning of our ation’s constitution. Though smoking has grim health effects, it is not illegal and is thought by the smoker and the tobacco companies to have convenient advantages. The smokers are allowed to smoke wherever they want and the tobacco companies benefit from free advertising. Smokers are walking, talking billboards for the tobacco industry, influencing many with their actions. This makes happy smokers and large amounts of profits for tobacco corporations. These so called advantages of smoking in public do not, in any way, outweigh the disadvantages.
Innocent people are suffering from the numerous effects of secondhand smoke, because it is legal in public areas. Secondhand smoke is a serious health risk to those who do not smoke. Banning smoking in public areas would greatly help decrease the number of people affected by secondhand smoke. It is acceptable to make decisions that influence one’s own health in a negative way, but when it starts affecting someone else’s health as a result of someone else’s choices, it is not morally acceptable.
A report, issued by the Institute of Medicine, concluded that exposure to secondhand smoke significantly increased the risk of having a heart attack among both smokers and nonsmokers (Belluck). Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona states, “There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke and smokers are twenty-five to thirty percent more at risk of developing heart disease compared to those who are not exposed at all (New Surgeon General’s Report). The devastating effects of secondhand smoke on innocent people are enough to justify a ban on smoking in public places.
Though you must be eighteen to smoke in most states, nineteen in others, smoking still affects more individuals than just adults. Children and teenagers are easily influenced by what they see adults do, and smoking is no exception. If smoking in public is eliminated, this would limit the amount of exposure children are subject to. Also, it would encourage smokers to consider quitting since the places they are allowed to smoke would be drastically reduced. Fewer children exposed means fewer smokers in the future, which would be ideal.
The act of smoking in public has damaging effects on both nonsmokers and smokers. In addition to putting others at risk, smoking has such negative effects on the smoker’s body that banning it from public would be a great incentive for current smokers to stop. Lung cancer, heart problems and many other medical problems can develop as a result of smoking. Banning smoking in public could potentially save many lives and avoid future medical issues. In the end, the decision to be a smoker or nonsmoker is strictly up to the individual.
As long as this decision to smoke does not create problems for other people, it should remain legal, but smoking in public should not. This affects and influences more individuals than the smoker. Smoking in public has many disadvantages as opposed to the single advantage of convenience to the smoker/tobacco companies. If there are no legal rights being taken away from the smoker, then why not help others stay healthy? Common courtesy is an underlying principle of our nation. So the next time someone “lights up” in front of other men, women, and children, ask yourself if that is a freedom you should be fighting for.