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Smoking in Public Places: Negative Effects

Introduction

All living things desire to have a favorable environment that supports healthy living. Even though some pollutants are caused by nature most of them are to blame due to various human activities. It is important to state the need to identify pollution caused by nature and those caused by human beings (Sullum 2009). It is also necessary to highlight the importance of reducing these pollutants or their effects in human beings. However, this essay will focus on public smoking in European countries. Few countries support public smoking while most of them have designated places for smokers.

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Supporters of Public Smoking

A public place refers to an area where people have unrestricted access. These are places that are open for members of the public as well as state officials and they include schools, entertainment joints, public beaches, playgrounds, worship centers, bus stations and work places. It should be noted that even though public offices have restricted access they are public places since they are established to serve the population.

There are a handful of nations or states that support public nations and top among them is Alabama. Other states like Michigan, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. These states have come under fire for their continued stand in supporting public smoking. However, they are adamant to establish laws that restrict public smoking due to various reasons. Most European countries adopt similar policies since their citizens live similar lives. In addition, they have other similar policies that regulate consumer goods and thus must ensure their policies are similar. States that support public smoking argue that the following considerations must be observed before restricting smoking activities.

First, they argue that human beings have freedoms and rights that must be protected at all costs. This means that people must not be forced to neither do what they don’t like nor be stopped from doing what they want. People should be left to do what they want as long as they are not interfering with other people’s lives. Therefore, they argue that prohibiting public smoking is tantamount to denying them their constitutional rights and freedoms. Therefore, these states have no plans of controlling smokers and their movements since they have the rights to choose whether to smoke in public or not. There is a possibility that if individuals are forced to smoke in designated areas soon there will be laws that limit the number of cigarettes a person can buy or smoke in a day.

Secondly, proponents of public smoking have challenged many people to explain the meaning and contexts of public smoking. There are various interpretations of public places and public smoking. Many people know that a public place is anywhere where public movement is not restricted. According to them these places include churches, playgrounds, restaurants, schools, stadiums, social halls and bus stations among other places. However, they fail to define public personal space that is the most important in defining non interference in public places.

Serious controversies arise when a smoker isolates himself from the rest of the population and takes a secluded place in a public park to smoke. People fail to define this as either public or personal space. Even though, the antonym of public is private there are other definitions of human spaces like personal and interpersonal space. Therefore, the absence of clear demarcations between public and personal space are responsible for causing misunderstandings with regard to public smoking. Consequently, proponents of public smoking argue that as long as a smoker is not close to the rest of the population he or she should not be interfered with what the person is doing. This means that public smokers should be at least ten meters from the rest of the population.

Moreover, there is no difference between smoking in public and smoking in secluded places since no one can control wind directions. The opponents of public smoking argue that public smoking interferes with the rest of the population in terms of causing respiratory infections. However, this is a weak argument since there are hundreds of other communicable diseases transmitted through contaminated water, air, food or body contact. There is no need of limiting smoking to secluded areas in attempts to fight respiratory complications while there are hundreds of people walking on the streets and transmitting flu and tuberculosis. Human beings cannot control wind directions and even though smokers may be instructed to smoke from designated places the cigarette smoke will eventually spread to almost all nearby regions.

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In addition, there are other smoke emitters in urban and rural areas and imposing a ban on public smoking is discriminatory. Most nations are still developing and using petroleum products to provide energy for various machines. It is evident that there can never be fuel combustion without smoke emission. This means that smokers contribute a small percentage of air pollution compared to other pollutants. The number of faulty motor vehicles emitting carbon in urban and rural areas is almost a thousand times the number of smokers. This means that other air pollutants like automobiles and industries emit more dangerous fumes compared to smokers. This is a clear indication that public smoking is not a big nuisance as is portrayed by some people. In addition, most developing countries have not achieved a full blown industrialization state and continue to rely on raw fuels for energy. The number of trees cut down every year to produce charcoal and firewood is a clear indication of how other sources pollute the air more than what smoking does.

Moreover, smoking is not as bad as drinking alcohol or using other drugs like cocaine and bhang. Most people smoke to quench their thirst and assure their senses that their bodies are ready for work. A person can smoke and work perfectly the whole day according to rules and regulations at hews work place (Glanz 2010). Therefore, smokers are not as irresponsible as alcoholics since smoking does not interfere with an individual’s mental and physical stability.

Furthermore, recent developments have led to the invention of electric cigarettes that are not harmful like the tobacco ones. These cigarettes have been modified top produce tobacco tastes but they lack nicotine and other harmful substances. Therefore, this cigarette is not harmful to the smoker or people around him. Therefore, there are sufficient reasons to support public smoking and those advocating for its ban should think twice about their stands.

Lastly, cigarettes account for a significant percentage of foreign income and domestic revenue generation. They are among the highly priced commodities in the local and international markets. In addition, cigarette companies employ directly and indirectly millions of workers world wide. Tobacco farmers earn income from selling their products and offer employment to millions of tobacco workers either in their farms or in tobacco industries. Therefore, restricting smoking to secluded regions is tantamount to bottlenecking this business. Tobacco trade is an important way of reducing the high number of unemployed people in the society; therefore, all attempts aimed at restricting the use of its products should be stopped.

Nations against Public Smoking

Most European nations are slowly adopting the anti-public smoking campaigns by designating certain regions for smokers. In most countries there are smoking zones and times beyond which individuals are not allowed to smoke (Lemieux 2007). For instance, even though there is no specific time for smoking government workers are not supposed to be found smoking during working hours. In addition, people are not allowed to smoke while inside buses, churches, schools and cinema halls. States have established laws to punish any person found breaking this rule. Public smoking is prohibited due to the following reasons.

First smoking accounts for a significant number of respiratory infections like lung cancer and throat inflammation. Even though, there is no law that stops individuals from smoking it is advisable to ensure that only willing smokers are exposed to cigarette smoke. This means that those willing to smoke are allowed to do so but should also bear in mind the welfare of other people. All cigarette manufacturing companies have clear warnings on their products advising consumers to avoid excessive smoking. In addition, their advertisements carry strong messages that cigarette smoking is not beneficial to their health (Jones 2010). However, smokers know these instructions very well but as strange as it is they ignore them. While buying cigarette packets their eyes usually cross the many bold advertisements and rush to see the contents without giving the instructions a second thought. They ignore these instructions at their own will and later suffer their consequences. On the other hand, the government has a duty of ensuring all citizens are guaranteed safe and healthy environment. This means that smokers should not interfere with other non smokers by smoking in public. Therefore, this policy protects innocent civilians against the effects of tobacco smoke.

Secondly, smoking is just like other activities that must not be done in the presence of children. It should be noted that parents are role models to their children and the society at large. Children emulate their parents and other senior members of their societies. No parent is ready to see his school going child puffing tobacco fumes while studying. This sight is not only disgusting but also irrational. Therefore, to avoid exposing children to cigarette smoking it is necessary to regulate smoking habits. This is why most nations are adopting the anti-public smoking policy to deter children from learning this habit. It is clear that it is impossible to stop an adult from smoking but it is advisable for the person to smoke while in a designated place. These smoking zones are usually out of bounds for children and therefore they are very safe.

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Thirdly, some habits are regarded as public nuisance. A public place is supposed to have order and accommodate people from various backgrounds. Even though, people have different personalities this is not an excuse to misbehave. When a couple hugs and kisses in a wedding or an entertainment joint this can be understood since the environment is suggestive of these reactions (Edberg 2009). In addition, when friends meet in public places and hug or kiss this will be understood since they may have stayed very long time before seeing each other. However, when a public kiss is prolonged or a hug is extended to a caress this becomes improper public behavior since it creates an embarrassing scene. Some people are not used to some behavior and will not feel comfortable being in the company of people with such manners. Public smoking is public nuisance just like spitting in public. Therefore, anti-public smoking policies should be reinforced if possible in all countries.

In addition, the world is struggling to control and eliminate all forms of pollution despite the need to modernize production processes. In the early years of civilization most automobiles used fuels that emitted a lot of smoke (Fritschler 2007). For instance, the trains and ships that used steam were largely dependent on firewood to boil water. Consequently, the amounts of smoke emitted by these engines were much more than the benefits achieved by these transport vessels. Pollution was at its best while the destruction of natural forests also became an issue of debate.

Even though, some critics argue that tobacco smoke is not sufficient enough to cause climate change this argument is subjective and cannot be used to justify smoking in public places. In a country where three out of ten people smoke on a regular basis the average smoke emitted in the whole country is far much more than what a truck full of corm emits (Glanz 2010). This means that the number of people smoking on a daily basis is enough to fill tons of gas cylinders. The little amount of smoke produced by each cigarette accumulates in the atmosphere and is responsible for a number of climate changes.

Moreover, public smoking is as dangerous as walking in a workshop without shoes or other protective clothes. Most public places do not have ash trays to deposit the filter or ashes produced after smoking. It is evident that most forest and domestic fires have been caused by irresponsible smokers. Most of them usually dump their left over cigarettes along foot paths or in bushes while only a few of them squeeze them between their fingers or step on them to extinguish them (Chapman 2011). The majority of the population is usually careless and leaves lighted cigarettes on the roadside or public benches. Some are ignorant enough to dump their cigarettes in public dustbins only to be shocked later by fire eruptions. However, prohibiting public smoking will ensure that all smokers dump their unfinished or finished cigarettes in designated places. These places are usually constructed with water and fire extinguishers to make sure all emergencies are handled as soon as possible.

People have the right to do what they want as long as their actions do not interfere with other people’s freedoms. However, it is also necessary to note that freedom comes with duties that must be fulfilled. Democracy allows everybody to speak and to be heard but chooses only a few preferred by the majority to lead. Similarly, this policy does not stop anyone from smoking but offers opportunities for smokers to reevaluate their habits as far as their health is concerned. Sometimes experience offers ore than enough lessons to people who hate advice from others. However, designating some places for public smokers is a step towards self realization and reversal of various habits. The fact that smokers are isolated from the rest of the population offers moral lessons to smokers and the other population. Smokers should think of possible reasons that may have contributed to their isolation. Thereafter, they will realize the effects of smoking and perhaps stop this habit.

Additionally, public smoking zones are meant to isolate smokers from the rest of the population. Some people know smoking is a bad habit but they keep on doing it inj hiding. However, when they are forced to smoke from designated places they will never accept since they fear being branded as smokers. Therefore, these zones ensure people get their real identities and stop hiding in washrooms to smoke. Moreover, some school going children smoke their parents’ cigarettes and eventually end up being chronic smokers. However, when there are regulations to control smoking patterns this will deter them from smoking until when they have grown up. Moreover, smoking zones are usually centrally located to be accessible from all neighboring regions. This ensures workers can sneak into these regions and smoke then go back to work.

However, there is a psychological twist in the location of these zones. First, they are not usually located too close to public offices, learning institutions or private establishments. This means that anyone willing to smoke must drive to these places or walk long distance s before getting to these places. This is a waste of time that should be used for other activities (Gostin 2009). Therefore, most smokers will postpone their smoking until after completing their work. Secondly, smoking zones are like prisons since no one is allowed to smoke outside these regions. Most people believe that smoking is addictive and makes an individual to become a slave of his habits. Therefore, designating smokers a smoking zone is like sentencing them to a public prison. Most people fear being seen smoking from these regions since this giver their friends an impression that the person is a tobacco addict.

Tobacco smoking has devastating health effects in the smoker and those close to him. It is estimated that over three 3,000,000 people die annually due to smoking and tobacco related complications (Friis 2011). Even though, smokers read all the instructions in the cigarette packets they have never stopped to pay attention to their meanings. It is ironical that most medical practitioners are the greatest smokers and contribute to a high number of respiratory complications victims. Moreover, it is proved that passive smokers suffer almost similar health complications to those of active smokers. Some major health complications associated with smoking include cancer (lung, skin, throat, liver and stomach), tooth decay, ineffective blood circulation and anemia.

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Lastly, some people argue that smoking in public is a pastime activity and source of prestige. In addition, they claim that smoking helps calm nerves after strenuous activities. However, these arguments are selfish and uninformed since they are meant to justify the importance of public smoking (Hayden 2010). On the contrary, there are other health-friendly pastime activities like sports, watching movies, reading novels and visiting friends. In addition, public smoking lowers an individual’s status in society.

Conclusion

Public smoking should be banned in all public places to ensure workers perform their duties without interference. In addition, tobacco contains harmful substances that intoxicate people and make them work differently when under its influence. Therefore, smoking in public places should be restricted to promote productivity.

References

Chapman, S., Public Health Advocacy and Tobacco Control: Making Smoking History, Willey-Blackwell, Boston, 2011.

Edberg, M., Essentials of Health Behavior: Social and Behavioral Theory in Public Health. Essential Public Health, Jones and Bartlett, Massachusetts, 2009.

Friis, R., Essentials of Environmental Health: Essential Public Health, Jones and Bartlett, Massachusetts, 2011.

Fritschler, L., Smoking and Politics: Bureaucracy Centered Policymaking, New Jersey, Pearson, 2007.

Glanz, K., Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice, Jossey-Bass, New Jersey, 2010.

Gostin, L., Public Health Law: Power, Duty, Restraint. Milbank Books on Health and the Public, University of California Press, California, 2009.

Hayden, J., Introduction to Health Behavior Theory, Jones and Bartlett, Massachusetts, 2010.

Jones, P., Smoking In Public Places: Town and Country Planning, Jossey-Bass, New Jersey, 2011.

Lemieux, P., Smoking and Liberty: Government as a Public Health Problem, Editions Varia, Montreal, 2010.

Sullum, J., For Your Own Good: The Anti-Smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health, Touchstone publishers, New York, 2009.

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