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Banning Smoking in Public Places

Abhijit Naik Aug 25, 2020
It's a divided house when it comes to a ban on smoking in public places. While one group thinks it's a necessity, the other argues that it would infringe upon their rights.
While several jurisdictions have successfully banned smoking in public places, others are struggling to come up with a clear-cut statute for it. With so many health hazards to its credit, it shouldn't be difficult to impose a ban on smoking, but people against it have come up with reasons as to why it should not be banned.
Historical records suggest that the first ever ban on smoking in public was imposed way back in 1590, by Pope Urban VII, wherein anyone found smoking in the church premises was subjected to excommunication. Over the period, the issue has become a bit sensitive and thus, calls for a proper evaluation of the pros and cons before imposing a ban.

A Ban on Smoking in Public Places - Evaluating the Pros and Cons

A ban is a broad concept with several aspects, ranging from a ban as a part of the criminal law to a ban as a part of the general norms of the workplace. While some argue that smoking in public makes a wrong impression on budding minds, others refer to it as a denial of basic right.

Why Should it be Banned?

Children are always tempted to try out the various things which the 'elders do', so a child who sees an adult smoking is bound to have an urge to try the same. Outlawing smoking also sends across the message that it is not just hazardous for the health, but it is a moral wrongdoing as well.
Among the most prominent benefits of such ban, one would be the fact that it would curb passive smoking, which subjects a non-smoker to several poisonous chemicals in cigarettes. Some of these chemicals can cause a range of disorders, including asthma and middle ear infection.
Studies also reveal that nearly 3,400 non-smokers succumb to lung cancer every year in the United States alone. Statistical evidence also suggests that the places wherein such ban was brought into practice, witnessed a large number of people quit smoking; a chunk of people quit as they didn't find a place to smoke.
Studies also reveal that the number of patients with ailments like asthma, lung cancer, etc., has also decreased in places wherein smoking ban is strictly imposed.

Why Shouldn't it be Banned?

One of the most popular arguments against the ban, is that it is a clear cut encroachment on the personal life of the individual. Secondly, a ban gives the whole issue unnecessary attention, and it is a normal human tendency to try something that is considered taboo in the society.
When forced to stop smoking at the workplace, an individual is likely to experience withdrawal symptoms, which, in turn, can hamper his performance. Making a law is one thing, but implementing it is a totally different ball game.
If a statute pertaining to smoking ban is passed, but not implemented properly, the failure will result in youngsters taking to smoking in closed environment without proper guidance, which will be even more hazardous.
On the commercial front, such a ban is bound to affect the business of cafes and pubs. Lastly, this ban is also against the interest of the government, as a significant share of the state treasury comes from taxes on cigarettes.
Each of these pros and cons need to be taken into consideration before coming up with some statute about banning smoking. More importantly, just coming up with the statute is not important, the administration has to make sure that it is implemented properly.
We have seen the futile exercise of making laws and forgetting them, being repeated quite a few times in the last decade or so. At the end of the day, making a law, but not implementing it, is as good as not making a law in the first place.