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Should Smoking Be Banned in Public Places? Essay

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Updated: Jan 13th, 2020


Many governments across the globe have moved to ban smocking in public places. Whether the action is justified or not, is a matter of fierce debate. Often, the proponents of the proposition carry the day arguing that smoke from cigarette inhaled by non-smokers poses health risks.

Thus, the banning action is based on the premise that non-smokers should be protected from risks associated with proximity to cigarette smoke (Warner 71). The other premise is that effects of smoke whether directly inhaled or partially taken in proximity with smokers are the same. However, little attention has been given to the opposing views which have always been dismissed as baseless.

Most academic studies and researches have cited individual rights as the basis for smocking in public ignoring other factors such as economy, social as well as other individualistic reasons (Viscusi 31). Moreover, much attention has also been given to dangers posed by cigarette smoking specifically health problems while ignoring the opponent side of view.

Further, little research has also been conducted to ascertain some of the issues that support public smoking or smoking in general (Viscusi 31). This does not necessarily mean that smoking should be allowed. However, other factors should be considered. Besides, various options should be explored before imposing a ban on smoking cigarette in public.

Thesis statement

Smoking in public places poses health risks to non smokers and should be banned. This paper will be discussing whether cigarette smoking should not be allowed in public places. First the paper will explore dangers associated with smoking in public and not on those who smoke, but on non-smokers.

The paper will then examine these propositions and ascertain whether they hold and establish counter arguments against the propositions. It is concluded that even though smoking poses health risks among the individuals, economic, social and individual values must be taken into consideration before a blanket ban on the practice is imposed (Abedian et al. 71).

Reasons for the ban of smoking in public places

The proponents of this rule have several arguments majorly based on scientific studies and results from health institutions. These arguments cannot be disputed, but over reliance on them is what makes the arguments a bit absurd (Warner 71).

However, various researches have always pointed health risks associated with smoking. Besides, smoking is an environmental hazard as much of the content in the cigarette contains chemicals and hydrocarbons that are considered to be dangerous to both life and environment (Lott and Richard 102).

Biologists and epidemiologists point out passive smoking is harmful to health. In other words, those who come in contact with second-hand smoke risk their health statuses (Lott and Richard 102). Several risks are associated with second-hand smoke that majority come in contact with in public places.

In most cases, partial smokers suffer from cardiac arrests, lung cancers, central nervous system impairments as well as other diseases caused by carcinogenic chemicals from cigarette smoke (Viscusi 35).

Other health conditions caused by smoking include asthma and other respiratory infections resulting from hydrocarbons and ammonia present in the second-hand smoke. Partial smokers also suffer from eye irritations, headaches and flu as a result of smoke particles (Viscusi and Joseph 10).

Findings from other scientific studies indicate that smoking reduces individual lifespan by a minimum of ten percent. The discovery also indicates that women are likely to suffer eleven years off their life expectancy. Moreover, people who smoke are more susceptible to certain forms of cancer that would have been avoided without smoking (Viscusi and Joseph 10). Smoking is injurious to health.

The opposing views

Those who have opposed the view on smoking ban in public places have been accused of citing individual rights to support their actions. In as much as they might be true, the weak point in this argument is that the rule applies to both smokers and non-smokers (Abedian et al. 71). Every one has a right to smoke and also not to smoke. Therefore, the argument based on the legal rights of an individual remains ambiguous.

Economic point of view

From the economic point of view, smoking is an individual choice. Like any other product these individuals may be willing to buy, cigarette is a commodity that its consumers would want and willing to purchase. Indeed, people make everyday choices founded on their preferences, and these choices are often associated with hazards and reservations (Warner 71).

All social interactions that individuals are involved in could be associated with risks which, in most cases are greater than risks related to smoke that smokers’ exhale. The reason is that the expected outcomes of the social interactions are greater than the risks as well as the costs involved (Viscusi 40).

Therefore, it would be ridiculous to make a conclusion that smoking in public should be prohibited simply because it presents a number of risks.

Based on this argument, the number of fatalities from other causes such as accidents, sexual relations, other diseases such as flu and pneumonia which are communicable and easily spread in public places are by far numerous than the fatalities caused by the second-hand smoke.

In other words, the risk of contracting other diseases, dying from AIDS as a result of sexual relations as well as dying from accidents are five times higher than the risk of dying from a second-hand smoke (Abedian et al. 71).

The other attribute of the economic proposition is that it examines the method through which individual choices can be reconciled based on their preferences (Viscusi and Joseph 44).

That is, individuals who smoke and those who tend to avoid second-hand smoke. According to the economic studies, primary institutes such as contractual freedom and property rights offer an effectual solution more than formal regulations in fulfilling personal preference (Viscusi and Joseph 44).

Another factor that should also be taken into consideration is the degree to which a place is considered public (Warner 71). It should be understood that most of the public places were previously private places. The difference is that owners allow the public to access them purely for commercial purposes.

As such, the role of property rights should be implemented to stop public smoking. In this regard, much of the places considered public are private such as the work places, restaurants, buses and bars. These places are opened for all manner of customers’ smokers as well as non smokers. The owner should specify the target customers who are purely non-smokers.

Therefore, any smoker who enters in these establishments is held liable for any risk of second hand smoking. On the other hand, an establishment may require that only smokers enter its establishment. In such a situation, any establishment will not be held responsible for any risks associated with second hand –smoke in a case non smoker enters the establishment.

In both scenarios, there is economic efficiency for all the parties concerned based on their preferences. However, in the circumstances that there is no specificity and the definition of the public, the whole process becomes chaotic (Warner 71).

Social point of view

Socially, smoking has been perceived as being fashionable and stylist. This perception has been carried over from generations to generations. Smoking is not something new rather it has been practiced for centuries. In a critical examination as to why people have been smoking for centuries, the reason is because they derived pleasure that was closely related to fashion and style.

That is why people still smoke and younger generations find themselves to be smoking despite health warnings or knowledge of health risks associated with the practice (Lott and Richard 102). This value should not be undermined as scientists could not explain why some smokers stay longer than those who smoke. Moreover, smoking is not the only cause of all health related diseases.


The best possible strategy to control tobacco consumption should be put in place. This will uphold individual’s self-esteem and appreciate society preferences. Scientists and other health proponents argue that people should not be guaranteed to smoke openly.

However, the economical approach stipulates that the management should not impose a ban on some individuals’ day to day choices. In fact, people’s preferences are highly regarded in the general public. Banning public smoking could favor certain communities while offend the treaty-liberty and material goods privileges.

Works Cited

Abedian, Iraj, Merwe Rowena, Nick Wilkins and Prabhat Jha. The Economics of Tobacco Control: Towards an Optimal Policy Mix. Cape Town: University of Cape Town, 1998. Print. p. 71.

Lott, John and Richard Manning. “Have Changing Liability Rules Compensated Workers Twice for Occupational Hazards? Earning Premiums and Cancer Risks.” Journal of Legal Studies, 29.1 (2000): 99-128. Print.

Viscusi, Kip and Joseph Aldy. “The Value of a Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates throughout the World.” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 27.1 (2003): 5-76. Print.

Viscusi, Kip. “The Value of Life: Estimates with Risks by Occupation and Industry.” Economic Inquiry, 42.1 (2004): 29-48. Print.

Warner, Kenneth. The Economics of Tobacco and Health. Cape Town: University of Cape Town, 1998. Print. p. 71.

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