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Why Should Smoking Be Illegal?

Smoking is the act of inhaling or smelling smoke that results from burning something, most commonly tobacco. All enclosed public areas, including bars and restaurants, have been subject to statewide smoking bans in some states; only certain areas have been affected in other states. According to WHO’s Smoking and Tobacco Use Policy, a smoker is defined as someone who regularly or infrequently smokes any tobacco cigarette (WHO). A daily smoker, consequently, is someone, who smokes at least once a day. Smoked tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, bidis, and kreteks. Some people prefer to use a pipe or a hookah (water pipe) to smoke loose tobacco. Tobacco products that are chewed include snuff, dip, and snus; smokers can also smell snuff. Some people smoke regularly, but not every day, and these people are known as “infrequent smokers” (Recher 18). Tobacco smoking in public places is prohibited by smoking bans or “smoke-free laws.” They include both criminal and health and safety regulations for the workplace.

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Getting nicotine from cigarettes is like sucking on a tailpipe for air. Many countries have banned smoking, but despite decades of research showing its dangers, tobacco is still widely available and profitable for everyone but the customer (Recher 1). One percent of public funds are allocated to a chemical that has no benefits and only causes illness, disability, and death. Even though taxing tobacco has its benefits, including fewer smokers, increased government revenue, and a healthier society, as respiratory therapists, people should embrace the use of excise duties that the government may use selectively. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, asthma, and other pulmonary diseases, with an estimated $12.0 billion in annual economic losses worldwide due to these conditions (Recher 1). The trade-off is illogical, even if one looks at it only from an economic standpoint.

As a reasonable position, the government should not dictate what vices the population engages in, which is why tobacco sales should continue. Even though the United States has tried to limit soft drink quantities, fast food is unregulated but failed miserably. Despite increased government interference, few people oppose access to these items. However, there is at least one advantage to these other “sins,” however. People need fuel, even if they eat at fast-food restaurants infrequently, drink alcohol, and gamble in moderation. There is no such thing as moderate use when it comes to tobacco. A person, those around them, or even those exposed to it in a tertiary setting cannot be exposed to any amount of cigarette smoke without harm. They are willing to tolerate smoking-related illness and death to make money. It is unlikely that Health Canada would allow tobacco smoking in Canada today, but it is also unlikely that any of today’s governments would denounce it. The public outcry from smokers and non-smokers, enforcement expenditures, illegal imports, anti-government action, and underground sales conspire to make absolute prohibition impossible.

Here is the dilemma: although tobacco has no health benefits, it cannot be outlawed. Smoking rates in the United States had steadily decreased since 1965 when more than half of the population smoked; by 2014, they had fallen to 18.1 percent (Recher 1). It means that people are forced to use whatever resources are still available to them to quit smoking: logical or emotional arguments, organized cessation programs, medications and patches, and e-cigarettes and gum.

In the history of humanity, the cigarette has been the most lethal item. An estimated 6 million people die from smoking each year, a number that is expected to rise before it decreases (Leung and Don 1). Only 100 million people died from smoking in the twentieth century, but a billion could die if people do not change their ways (Ritchie and Roser). This century, even if current consumption rates are gradually reduced to zero by 2100, people will still have around 300 million tobacco-related deaths in this century. (Roser and Roser). A flaw in the product design of the cigarette has resulted in half of its long-term users dying from their use. It’s designed to be addictive, too. Tobacco companies in the United States have the authority to reduce the nicotine content in cigarettes to non-compensable, non-addictive levels. It is within the FDA’s jurisdiction. Denicotinized cigarettes were already on the market in the nineteenth century, and the water-based nicotine alkaloid is easy to produce. When Philip Morris first started making Next cigarettes in the 1980s, they used supercritical fluid extraction techniques to reduce nicotine levels by 97%, which would be required to make a cigarette with just 0.1% nicotine, down from the current values of around 2% (Havermans et al.). Keeping in mind that the amount of nicotine in the rod is more important than how much a person consumes.

Cigarettes are intended to produce smoke that can be inhaled is another flaw. Before the seventeenth century, tobacco smoke was seldom breathed due to its harshness and alkalinity (Baron 1). A way of heating the raw tobacco leaf during the fermentation process to preserve its naturally existing sugars, flue-curing, was only discovered after the invention of smoking. Inhaling smoke with a lower pH is easier because of the acids produced when sugars are burned. Ironically, these supposedly milder cigarettes were much more dangerous, causing smoke to be sucked into the lungs and making them far more dangerous. Flue-cured nicotine, a manufacturing practice that can be changed at any time, is nearly solely responsible for the current global lung cancer epidemic. There should be a significant reduction in the amount of nicotine in the rods, but no cigarette should be supplied with a smoke pH lower than 8.5. The health of the public will be better served by these two new laws than by any other legislation.

Alternatively, it could be argued that the tobacco industry is a major source of corruption in society. By funding “decoy” or “distraction studies,” big tobacco has distorted scientific research. As a result, newspapers and magazines that rely on tobacco advertising for revenue have been hesitant to print critical articles on cigarettes. As a result of Philip Morris’ bribery of its insurance provider (CIGNA), the corporation polluted even its workforce’s information environment. Even the US president and military have been subjected to cigarette firms’ exploitation and coercion, as have the American Medical Association, the American Law Institute, several sports leagues, firefighting organizations, and the Hollywood industry. President Lyndon Johnson refused to approve the 1964 Surgeon General’s report for political reasons. US Navy attempts to go smoke-free were scuppered by cigarette manufacturers. Tobacco-friendly politicians were persuaded to thwart the Navy’s goal of having a smoke-free Navy by 2000 in 1986, and regulation was enacted requiring all ships to sell cigarettes and allow smoking. American submarines didn’t go smoke-free until 2011, as a result.

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In contrast, smoking cigarettes is a major environmental polluter. Pesticide use and deforestation are both harmful to the environment when it comes to producing cigarette products because of their use in growing and curing and rolling, and flavoring (Leung and Don 1). Several square miles of savannah woods are burned each year to produce the charcoal needed to cure flues. A large amount of greenhouse gas emissions is also produced by the curing and transportation of cigarette goods and the careless disposal of butts. Adding insult to injury, the tobacco industry has generously supported those who reject man-made climate change even further. Even in the midst of a worldwide economic crisis, the easy-to-avoid cause of the catastrophe, cigarettes, are mostly overlooked.

Any proposal for a ban is likely to be criticized for increasing smuggling or even organized crime. That, however, is akin to blaming criminals with large wallets for their crimes. For reasons including price discrepancies and cigarette makers’ tolerance for contraband, tobacco smuggling is already widespread in the industry. In contrast to alcohol prohibition, when drinking was viewed as a more recreational substance, the demand for illegal drugs is expected to decline after the addicts overcome their dependency. In the end, smoking will not be eliminated by a prohibition on the sale of cigarettes since individuals should cultivate their own for personal use. Instead of criminalizing the possession, it’s time to put a stop to sales. As a result, in a liberal society, enforcement should be of secondary importance. On the other hand, smoking a cigarette is not a celebration of freedom but rather a theft of that freedom. People are putting corporations at a disadvantage by portraying themselves as defenders of freedom. Smoking poses a threat to individual liberties, and as a result, it should be discouraged.

Prohibitions are dismissed as impractical or totalitarian by the industry, which has been the case for many years. On the other hand, the freedom argument falls short when taking into account how individuals experience addiction. For most smokers, the only reason they ‘enjoy’ smoking is to stave off nicotine withdrawal symptoms; they need it to feel normal. Cigarette “enjoyers,” those who profess a love for the product, are an extremely rare breed. A majority of smokers want to stop but are unable to; many often regret starting the habit. It’s been known for a long time. In spite of product control, price, denormalization, and “smoke-free” laws aimed at reducing or eliminating cigarette usage, it is achievable. Even now, certain counties still ban the sale of alcohol, just as some municipalities did in the 1930s.

Cigarettes have been the most harmful invention in human history. Because of this, it is a huge financial and political drain, a contributor to both climate change denial as well as global warming itself, and a costly burden on cash-strapped nations alike. For decades, tobacco firms have said that if their products are shown to be dangerous, they would cease production. Since cigarettes have no recreational value, banning their sale is the best way to prevent people from smoking in the first place. Generally speaking, small towns and localities have the ability to outlaw the selling of cigarettes fairly instantly. The world’s leading cause of death and respiratory illness can be eliminated if people realize they have more power than they think.

Works Cited

Baron, Yves Muscat. “Incidence and Case-Fatality Ratio of COVID-19 infection in relation to Tobacco Smoking, Population Density and Age Demographics in the USA: could Particulate Matter derived from Tobacco Smoking act as a Vector for COVID-19 transmission?.” medRxiv (2020).

Havermans, Anne et al. Feasibility of Manufacturing Tobacco with Very Low Nicotine Levels. Tobacco Regulatory Science, Volume 6, Number 6, November 2020, pp. 405-415(11).

Leung, Janice M., and Don D. Sin. “Smoking, ACE-2 and COVID-19: ongoing controversies.” European Respiratory Journal 56.1 (2020).

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Recher, Vedran. “Tobacco smuggling in the Western Balkan region: Exploring habits, attitudes, and predictors of illegal tobacco demand.” Radni materijali EIZ-a 1 (2019): 1-24.

Ritchie, Hannah and Roser, Max. Smoking. OurWorldInData.org. (2021). Web.

World Health Organization. Web.

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