Clash of the Titans XX: Public Smoking Bans

May 8, 2007, 12:00 pm; posted by
Filed under Debate, Josh J, Tom  | 5 Comments

In this corner, promoting bans on public smoking, is Josh!

And in this corner, calling for no further restrictions, is Tom!

I still remember a time when nearly all restaurants went through the charade of designating separate “sections” for smoking, separated from nonsmokers by nothing more than the air the smoke wafted right through. I had more than a few meals ruined, so I can’t for a moment say I regret the move away from allowing smoking in certain public places. While I readily acknowledge my bias as a nonsmoker, I say bring on the bans.

I’m not suggesting banning smoking outright. I understand that for many this is about having the freedom to make personal lifestyle choices, no matter how unhealthy or ill-advised they may be. Most of us engage in activities that shorten our probable lifespan because they increase our enjoyment, convenience or manageability of life. We should be free to make these choices — but only insofar as they do not interfere with others’ rights.

Secondhand smoke was once considered little more than a distasteful annoyance, but there is now increasing evidence that it poses serious health risks to others. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the likelihood of both lung cancer and heart disease, and children in particular are very susceptible to these effects. Estimates vary, but most studies attribute tens of thousands of deaths annually to secondhand smoke exposure. The bottom line is that the Surgeon General has determined there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Smokers have the right to make the choice for their bodies, but not the right to expose others to harm. As we learn more about the dangers of secondhand smoke and the ways we are exposed to it, we must be prepared to take the necessary measures to safeguard our general health. Prospective bans will not deprive anyone of anything necessary, or even beneficial. They will simply ensure that those who wish to destroy themselves do so without collateral damage.

Banning smoking in public, outdoor places doesn’t seem like a good idea.

I am not a smoker. I believe in the right to breathe relatively clean air, but I also believe in the right to pollute your personal air with cigars, cigarettes, or pipes to your heart’s content. At this point, in New York State, smoking is banned in government offices, restaurants, bars, and can be banned on private property, at the owner’s discretion. Take away sidewalks, streets and parks and what’s left? The home (depending on your lease) and the car. Until a mandate from the people makes tobacco illegal, it’s not prudent to force a large section of our population to have to act as if it was.

When making a decision with the stated intent of keeping people healthier, I find it easiest to think how it will affect the children. I close with an analysis of the most important situations where children would be harmed by banning public smoking.

Scenario I:
A frazzled single mother strives to keep food on the table and a roof over her child’s head. She has but two vices: her stories and the after-dinner pipe. She knows she shouldn’t smoke in her child’s home, but as an apartment- dweller, she has no yard or porch from whence to take her nicotine break. Does she risk a fine, or put her baby’s health in jeopardy?

Scenario II:
Drive past any elementary school in America, and you might see legions of educators wearing a path to the street corner judged far enough away from the school to allow unmolested smoking there. Take away this simple relief from the pressure of molding dozens of young minds, and what do you have? An army of angry middle-aged women who (without nicotine) can’t manage the stress of a 7-hour a day, 9-month a year vocation whose main requirement is outsmarting a fourth-grader. I don’t think that’s a situation anyone wants; keep the paddles, but let them have their sidewalk cigarettes.

Which side are you on?
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Comments

5 Comments to “Clash of the Titans XX: Public Smoking Bans”

  1. Tom on May 8th, 2007 12:46 pm

    Note – I know, respect, and/or love a number of teachers, and give them nothing but props EXCEPT when failing to do so helps my point. So, know that I didn’t mean it at all, unless you haven’t voted yet. Thanks!

  2. Karen on May 8th, 2007 10:29 pm

    Thomas, Thomas, Thomas…..

  3. Dsweetgoober on May 9th, 2007 1:16 pm

    Fortunately Aunt Debbie will never see this post Tom. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have not smoked in 30 years but my goodness how much more banning of our personal freedoms can our country take? They’ve ruined our french fries, our popcorn, our pizza, our sausage….are we going to harrass and hassle every step of the American until he can no longer even eat a candy bar in public?

  4. Tom on May 9th, 2007 3:31 pm

    Actually, she was the reason I put in my comment! I had seen “Mrs. Sweet” posting, and just assumed it was her rather than Trogdor.

  5. Dsweetgoober on May 10th, 2007 9:14 am

    I did too, at first, because Debbie was home sick that day. After I thought about the level of my “Mrs. Sweet’s'” computer skills though I quickly ruled out that possibility.

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