Public Smoking Ban
Within the past few decades, smoking
has become banned from most public places. Whether it’s on a bus or in a busy
restaurant, “no-smoking” signs have found their way into our community, and
it’s easy to see why. Since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report, 2.5 million
adults who were nonsmokers died because they breathed secondhand smoke (Health
Effects of Second-Hand Smoke 2017). A ban on
smoking in all public places would
greatly decrease the health hazards related to smoking.
Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop
heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer (Health Effects, 2017). Not only does
smoking affect your heart, kidney, and lungs, it affects practically every
other organ in the body, putting almost all organs in jeopardy of cancer. Some
of these organs include the kidney, liver, stomach, bladder, and cervix. As you smoke, tar
sticks to cilia inside the lungs, which is responsible for sweeping out germs
and dirt. If the cilia are covered in tar, they can’t work right, and germs and
dirt can stay in the lungs and cause disease.
Some may argue that preventing
smokers from smoking in public infringes on their rights. While smokers should
be allowed to indulge in their own habits, it should not be allowed at the risk
of others. When people smoke in public areas, the toxic fumes travel through
the air and into the lungs of others. Many non-smokers breathe in the second-hand
smoke, and as a result, their health is compromised.
All people have a right to clean air
and to a safe environment. Smoking should be banned in public places for many
reasons; especially concerning the innocent party of non-smokers nearby.
Smoking leads to a pungent smell in the air, sticking to any passerby, even
long after the smoker has left. The smell of smoke clings to clothing, hair,
and nails, which may be unfortunate to an asthmatic person. A number of diseases can be caught from second hand smoke, or passive smoking, including a number of cancers throughout the body,
emphysema, asthma, and cardiovascular problems.
There is no safe exposure to second-hand smoke. By being near
someone smoking, you inhale a greater amount of chemicals than the actual
smoker. In the United States, about 3,000 people die annually from cancer after
being subject to second-hand some inhalation (Secondhand Smoke, 2017). Exposure
to secondhand smoke can also cause coronary heart disease and have negative
effects on your blood and blood vessels, increasing your risk to a heart
Children are more susceptible to the dangers of
second-hand smoke. Studies show that older children whose parents smoke get
sick more often. Their lungs grow less than children who do not breathe
secondhand smoke, and they get more bronchitis and pneumonia (Health Effects of Secondhand
Smoke, 2017). Newborn babies who are around secondhand smoke are in danger of
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, as well as ear infections and wheezing/coughing.
Secondhand smoke is the
third leading cause of preventable death (after active smoking and alcohol),
according to the Manitoba Medical Association. By not permitting smoking
in public areas, people may refrain from smoking. Some argue that there would
be a significant decline in the clientele in bars and clubs, but non-smokers outnumber
smokers three to one. (Ban Smoking in Public Areas, 2013). A ban could increase people going out because nonsmokers
would be more comfortable. No matter what, nothing
will reduce or stop cigarette smoking altogether. However, the laws banning
smoking might convince some smokers to quit and create a safer environment for others.
If it weren’t for the
vast amount of chemicals hidden inside a cigarette, smoking would probably be
more accepted in society. Some of the chemicals inside a cigarette include
formaldehyde, arsenic, and lead. These ingredients are introduced to the mix in
fertilizers, soil. and rainwater, depending on the location the tobacco was
When you smoke, nicotine is quickly
absorbed into your bloodstream. Within 10 seconds of inhaling, the nicotine
reaches your brain. It causes the brain to release adrenaline, creating a buzz
of pleasure and energy. The buzz fades quickly though, and leaves you feeling
tired, a little down, and wanting the buzz again. This feeling is what makes
you light up the next cigarette. Since your body can build up a high tolerance
to nicotine, you’ll need to smoke more and more cigarettes to get the
nicotine’s pleasurable effects and prevent withdrawal symptoms. (Nicotine
Cigarettes aren’t just
bad for our health. They’re bad for the environment, too! Internationally, cigarettes
are the single most collected item in beach cleanups. Materials that leaches
out of these filters is toxic to aquatic life. Tobacco, more than any other
crop, depletes soil from nutrients, including nitrogen, potassium, and
phosphorus. (Call to Action, 2015)
Cigarette butts are the
most commonly discarded piece of waste worldwide. It is estimated that 1.69 billion pounds of butts wind
up as toxic trash each year, creating an enormous environmental, health, and
economic burden. Contrary to popular belief, cigarette butts are not biodegradable! Cigarette butt
waste is a huge environmental issue, with a global impact — it is both
unsightly and unhealthy.
Water gets contaminated
easily. All it takes is a bit of rainfall and it washes away harmful ingredients
that have accumulated in the soil (thanks to pesticides, fertilizers, and
cigarette butts) straight down to stream, lakes, rivers, seas, and oceans.
What’s most concerning is that all of those pollutants also reach drinking
water reservoirs and can pose a significant health hazard.
Marine life is also
threatened by cigarette butt pollution. Research shows that certain algae die
after being exposed to water containing compounds that are equivalent to two
discarded cigarette butts. Those algae are at the bottom of the food chain –
all other sea organisms are feeding on it and getting the same amount of
poisoning, all the way up to the fish humans eat regularly.
As much as they are toxic to humans, cigarette butts are also toxic to
animals. It takes little to poison water-based organisms, but it doesn’t take
much more to harm larger animals. The most common victims are beach-dwellers –
large turtles, sea cows, and seals. They frequently visit contaminated beaches
where they eat, and feed their young with, cigarette butts. Scientists have
also found cigarette butts in stomachs of hundreds of other species such as
birds, cats, dogs, and more. (Smoking Environmental Risks, 2016)
The key ingredient in the manufacture of cigarettes is
tobacco; and the reality is that most of it is planted in rainforests areas. Accordingly, it
has contributed to major deforestation in the areas where it is planted. Areas
where tobacco planting began on small lands are now extensively covering large
fields and some of such places were covered by very dense forest. A prime example is Tabora village in Usenge, Tanzania where
local tobacco farmers attest to this phenomenon. Deforestation also has its
additional ripple effects
to the environment such as reducing availability of plants for foraging, loss
of biodiversity, soil
and increasing global temperatures (10 Serious Effects, 2017).
In many tobacco growing countries, it is evident tobacco
agriculture has led to irreparable environmental damage, particularly when
associated with the deforestation necessary to increase farmland for tobacco
growth and cure tobacco plants. The June 1995 Bellagio statement on tobacco and
sustainable development concluded that, in the developing world, “tobacco
poses a major challenge, not just to health, but also to environmental
sustainability” (Bellagio Statement, 1995).
In many developing countries, wood is used to cure tobacco leaves
and to construct curing barns. An estimated 200,000 hectares of forests and
woodlands are cut down each year because of tobacco farming. In Southern Africa
alone, an estimated 140,000 hectares of woodlands disappear annually into the
fires necessary to cure tobacco, accounting for approximately 12% of
deforestation in the region. A 1999 study assessing the amount of forest and
woodland consumed annually for curing tobacco concluded that nearly 5% of
deforestation in developing countries where tobacco was grown was due to
tobacco cultivation. (Tobacco Free Initiative, 2017).
Environmental and health factors are at risk when
public smoking is allowed. From polluting our lungs, to polluting the sea,
smoking in public places endangers all lives and living conditions globally.
Bans on public smoking should be taken more seriously, as to prevent health
issues had by any non-smoker.