It is a known fact that smoking is hazardous to one’s health. Smokers are highly at risk for many diseases, such as that of the lungs and the heart. However, it must be noted that the negative effects of smoking is not limited to smokers; the non-smokers are also at risk. Secondhand smoke proves to be very dangerous to non-smokers, as it threatens their health as well. It is therefore a good idea that there are policies being implemented which put the health of non-smokers into consideration. One of those policies is the prohibition of smoking in public places.
This essay seeks to argue against smoking in public places on grounds of health-related reasons. Secondhand smoke consists of two elements (National Cancer Institute). The first element is sidestream smoke, the smoke which is released when the end of the cigarette or tobacco is burnt. The other element is mainstream smoke, the smoke released by the smoker. The act of being exposed in secondhand smoke is referred to as passive or involuntary smoking (National Cancer Institute). According to U. S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, there are an estimated 126 million nonsmokers who are subjected to secondhand smoke (Associated Press).
Secondhand smoke is a health threat because it contains chemicals which are hazardous (National Cancer Institute). The kind of chemicals found in the secondhand smoke is dependent on certain factors, including the type of tobacco used as well as paper used to wrap the tobacco. Some of the chemicals included in secondhand smoke are metals like arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium and nickel. Other chemicals found in secondhand are benzene, ethylene oxide, polonium-210, and vinyl chloride (National Cancer Institute).
With such hazardous chemicals found in secondhand smoke, it is therefore no surprise that being exposed to it results in detrimental health effects. Secondhand smoke is considered as a carcinogen; it is known to cause cancer (National Cancer Institute). It is also responsible for causing heart disease. In adults, secondhand smoke increases the risk of cancer in the breast and nasal sinus cavity; in children, it causes an increased risk of having leukemia, lymphoma, bronchitis, pneumonia and sudden infant death syndrome (National Cancer Institute).
Now that the dangers of secondhand smoke have been revealed, what measures may be taken to safeguard the health of non-smokers? In what ways can exposure to secondhand smoke be reduced? One way in resolving this problem is by assigning an area for smokers separate from the nonsmokers (Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology [POST] 3). In most restaurants, there are separate areas for smokers and nonsmokers. One of the first pieces of legislation which sought to restrict smoking was the Clean Indoor Air Act of 1975 in Minnesota (Godish 424).
This act disallows smoking in public areas, save for those which are designated for that purpose (Godish 424). Another way to resolve the problem of secondhand smoke is through ventilation (POST 3). Through the use of ventilation systems, the air in an area will become cleaner, making it of better quality. Ventilation systems can provide air to those who occupy the nonsmoking areas, while expelling the stale air in the smoking areas (POST 3). Though both suggestions seem to be great ideas, these do not solve the problem at hand. The main problem involves secondhand smoke and its detrimental effects on human health.
Neither separation of smoking areas or ventilation solves the issue. While both options indeed reduce the level of exposure, people are still exposed to secondhand smoke (POST 3). However, little the exposure, it still is harmful to health (National Cancer Institute). Therefore, separation of smoking areas and ventilation do not address the issue at hand. According to the National Cancer Institute, “there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. ” If this is the case, the only way to resolve the issue of secondhand smoke is to eliminate smoking altogether.
This is the reason why smoking in public places should be prohibited. Smoking in public places makes nonsmokers susceptible to the health hazards caused by secondhand smoke. Every year, approximately 3,400 nonsmoking American citizens die from diseases caused by secondhand smoke (Associated Press). Therefore, smoking in public places must be prohibited to protect nonsmokers from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. The proposal of such ban on smoking has been met with much criticism, especially the hospitality industry (POST 4).
For instance, in the United Kingdom, the hospitality industry is distressed that a smoking ban would lessen the number of customers, negatively affecting their business. Nonetheless, a recent study has proven that smoking bans have no negative effect on the businesses of bars and restaurants. The same findings hold true for American states such as Boston and New York City (Associated Press). Aside from the obvious health benefits, the prohibition of smoking in public places such as the workplace has other benefits.
Through a ban on public smoking, not only will secondhand smoke be eliminated but workplace productivity will also increase. This is due to the fact that the ban will surely dissuade employees from smoking (Associated Press). Secondhand smoke is hazardous to one’s health. In fact, the exposure to secondhand smoke is a major health concern. With the smoking ban in public places, many nonsmokers will be protected from health threats. It is only through elimination of secondhand smoke wherein this protection can be guaranteed. Therefore, smoking in public places must be prohibited.