Smoking or non-smoking, Sir? For some generations this question will perhaps bring about nostalgia; for others it is a foreign phrase that bears little to no relevance to today’s world. Smoking has been a controversial subject ever since its damaging effects were realized, and over the years stricter laws have been enforced in terms of advertising, distribution, and more recently, location. Where you can and cannot smoke is a huge issue to both smokers and non-smokers, and several countries have taken the brave step towards banning smoking in public buildings. The next step, whether it be logical or illogical, may be to ban smoking in all public places, but consideration must first be had for smokers, non-smokers, and the feasibility of opposing such a ban.
For most smokers, their addiction is a burden that cannot be up heaved. It is true that some do not want to quit, some want to quit but find it too difficult, and there are others that want to quit but cannot. By banning smoking in public places, it just may be that it helps some smokers to reduce the amount they smoke, and eventually quit. Alternatively, it may be that the cigarettes that have not been smoked are hoarded until the opportunity arises to smoke them with a vengeance. By enforcing a ban, there is the possibility or smoking become less common because it is not seen as frequently, coupled with the possibility that the act of smoking may be seen as being anti-social, with smokers becoming ostracized by the non-smoking population.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for wanting cigarettes to be banned in public places is the welfare of those that do not smoke. It would be nice to say that the welfare of smokers was being put first and foremost, but those that would truly reap the benefit of such a ban may well be the non-smokers. Long gone are the days when you could walk into a smoke-filled bar and get lost in the clouds. The death of Roy Castle from lung cancer showed the damaging effects of secondary smoking, and it may be argued that the health of those that do not smoke should be put in jeopardy by those that do. However, it has to be pointed out that much of what constitutes as ‘public’ is open air in which diffusion reduces the amount of secondary smoke inhaled. Furthermore, those who oppose the ban often point out that exhaust emission from cars are also damaging to the pedestrian or cyclist who has to suck on the fumes. Other factors that affect the public include how unpleasant the smell can be and littering. It is difficult to find an argument against the millions of cigarette butts that are currently scarring the world in which we live in, be they on the pavement, in the flora, or underground in landfill sites.
The final aspect that needs to be taken into account when looking at banning smoking is the feasibility of such a ban. When smoking was first banned in British public houses in 2007, it was unsure whether such a ban would be feasible in terms of enforcement and also acceptance. Landlords and patrons alike adhered to the new law, but there were many patrons who would not accept the ban. As such, the only option left was to go elsewhere, or stay at home. According to the Guardian, in 2008 there were approximately two pubs closing a day, with sales of alcohol at a low that had not been seen since the Great Depression (Stratton A). To enforce a ban of smoking in public it would be necessary to think about the practicality of such a ban, especially how to enforce and police all areas deemed as ‘public’. Secondly, what areas are public? Some may call for a zero tolerance towards smoking in that if someone can see you smoking then you are doing so in public. Others may think that this is ludicrous, such as the smoker who sits in his car minding his own business as he has his morning cigarette on the way to work.
After considering both sides of the argument and the various factors, I believe that smoking should be banned in public. However, I feel that it is necessary to redefine public and also to allow for some discrepancies. Secondary smoke should not be inflicted upon anyone. Therefore, I believe it would be fair to be smoking in crowded areas, such as busy high streets, markets, parks, outdoor stadiums, and areas where people are not mobile such as bus stops. Having said that, I think that it would be wrong to stop people smoking in other areas where there is little chance of anyone else inhaling a damaging amount of smoke. Recreational areas should definitely enforce the ban as these are places where people congregate for pleasure and enjoyment, not to feel nauseous and unhappy because you have to tolerate the smell of the smoke of others.
Charts Bin. 2010. 31 January 2010 <http:>.
“Smokers.” Cigarette Litter. 31 January 2010
Stratton, Allegra. “The death of the village pub.” 10 April 2008 . The Guardian. 31 January 2010