Pros and Cons of Smoking Bans

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Smoking bans or also called smoke-free laws are public policies prohibiting the smoking of tobacco in public spaces as well as workplaces. The reason behind the ban is that not everyone smokes and having them in place protects people from the effects of second-hand smoke. Apart from health concerns, smoking bans were put in place to reduce health care costs, improve productivity at work, lessen the risk of fire – just to name a few. Opinions differ when it comes to smoking bans and here’s a look at two sides of the story:

List of Pros of Smoking Bans

1. It protects non-smokers from the effects of second-hand smoke.
Studies have shown that second-hand smoke poses the same threat to non-smokers as it does to smokers. Diseases such as lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and lung ailments (asthma, bronchitis and emphysema) are linked to direct smokers and could also affect non-smokers. Analysis have shown that partners who live with smokers have a 20 to 30% chance of getting lung cancer than two non-smokers living together. Also, non-smokers who are exposed to cigarette smoke at work increase the chance of getting lung cancer by 16 to 19%.

2. It improves indoor air quality.
Some bars and restaurants allow their customers to smoke indoors. When smoke-related complaints by non-smoking customers arose, establishments created a separate area for smokers. According to studies, putting restrictions on smoking in such establishments can improve the air quality. A study showed that statewide law in New York that eliminated smoking in enclosed workplaces and public spaces reduced respirable suspended particle levels in hospitality venues to a substantial amount.

3. It helps people quit smoking or not attempt to start.
Sometimes, others are influenced to take up smoking. This is particularly true among the young who are easily influenced by what they see around. There is also the added perception that smoking is cool which increases the chances of them taking up the habit. Smoking bans can help in making smokers quit because of the lesser venues where they can light up a cigarette and it can also lessen new smokers because a ban would mean what they want to do is unwanted.

List of Cons of Smoking Bans

1. It has a negative economic impact.
The hospitality industry tends to suffer when smoking bans are imposed. Why is that? Well, establishments such as bars, cafes and restaurants are where people go to smoke (and it’s where most of them are allowed to do so in an indoor setting). When these establishments adopt smoking bans, they lose customers who patronized their services because they allowed smoking.

2. It is a violation of a personal right.
Those who are against smoking bans will argue that the right to smoke is a personal right. Putting a ban on smoking infringes on their freedom of choice and they aren’t doing anyone any harm by enjoying a cigarette.

3. It is hard to implement.
Customers will demand the right to smoke and establishments (particularly bars, cafes and restaurants) will find it hard to tell them no. This is why separate areas for smokers have been created in these establishments so they can continue what they are doing while the non-smoking area can enjoy as well.