SHOULD SMOKING BE BANNED IN PUBLIC PLACES?Give your opinions to either support or go against the issue.

Expert Answers
William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It was not always known that smoking was as harmful to smokers and non-smokers as is now generally accepted. The big change in public awareness of the dangers of smoking came about largely through the efforts of C. Everett Koop, who was Surgeon General of the United States from 1982 to 1989. Here is a pertinent quote about his stand on tobacco from Wikipedia:

In his 1988 Report of the Surgeon General, it was reported that nicotine has an addictiveness similar to that of heroin or cocaine. Koop's report was somewhat unexpected, especially by those who expected him to maintain the status quo in regard to his office's position on tobacco products. During his tenure, in 1984, Congress passed legislation providing for new, rotated health warning labels on cigarette packs and required advertising to include the labels. Those labels remain unchanged today. New labels containing graphic depictions of smoking-caused illness and death have been announced by the FDA, but are on hold pending the outcome of tobacco industry legal challenges. Koop issued a challenge to Americans in 1984 to "create a smoke-free society in the United States by the year 2000."[23] As Surgeon General, he released eight reports on the health consequences of tobacco use,[24] including the first report on the health consequences of involuntary tobacco smoke exposure. During Koop's tenure as Surgeon General, smoking rates in the United States declined significantly from 38% to 27%.[25]

Note that he wanted to create a smoke-free society in the United States by the year 2000. He has only been partially successful, but Americans are deeply indebted to him for using his position to expose the terrible dangers of tobacco smoking and at the same time reveal the unscrupulous practices of the tobacco industry. 1988 was not so terribly long ago. Many Americans who were alive at that time have given up cigarettes, but it is painful to see how many young people have taken up smoking when they must realize they are risking their eventual death from lung cancer or emphysema--or both. Cigarette smoking can turn into an addiction that is nearly impossible to break.

Surgeon General Koop seemed to believe that smoking could be completely eliminated, at least in the United States. That suggests that smoking should not only be banned in public places but that tobacco smoking should be completely banned and abolished everywhere. It would mean prohibiting the manufacture or import of all tobacco products.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I certainly like the fact that smoking is banned in pretty much all enclosed public places.  It is very nice not to have to endanger my health when I go into a public building.  I think that it is justifiable to do this because it is not simply a matter of preference, but one of health.  Since Person A's smoke can harm Person B's health, A should not have the right to smoke in public.

I am less sure about banning smoking in open air settings, especially those where people are moving (as opposed to at a sports event where people are sitting in one place and can't get away from the smoke).

So, I approve of bans for the health of people who don't smoke. Public places where nonsmokers would be exposed to smoke for significant amounts of time should be smoke free.

kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is a difficult thing to say that just because it is dangerous to others we should ban it.  We don't ban driving even though it is incredibly dangerous to other people.

But I agree with a lot of what has been voiced here, indoors it ought to be banned and even at outdoor stadiums, etc. where people are packed in close together it should be banned.  But in a public park or something like that?  I find it hard to say that we should go that far.

megan-bright eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Open spaces such as parks are fine and smoking shouldn't be banned in those places. But in enclosed, smaller, indoor spaces smoking should be banned or either in its own separate section. Second hand smoke is very dangerous. And now studies show that 3rd hand smoke (residue left on the clothes of someone who was around smokers) is also dangerous especially to babies.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The argument above about driving being dangerous is poor logic. Smoking affect not only those who smoke, but it also affects those who have to deal with second hand smoke. Smokers choose to harm their health with smoking, but they do not have a right to allow their choice to harm my health. Yes! Public smoking should be banned.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Yes, smoking should be banned in public places. It should also be banned in apartments and rental homes. Some people, such as the elderly and children, can become very sick when inhaling secondhand smoke. It seeps into carpeting, furniture and draperies. The smell and residue is very difficult to remove.
zumba96 | Student

My personal belief is smoking should be banned in public areas because this could cause air pollution, but also disturb others around them who don't smoke. Everywhere there are signs saying smoking should not be allowed in 'these' public areas and for a logical reason. Non-smokers for one would get annoyed, but if there are little children around this could get into their lungs and harm them as well

StephanieRR | Student

I do think smoking should be banned in public places where there will be non-smokers mixed in. While it would be nice to just kick the activity of smoking out all together, I would be very surprised if anyone could convince people to pass a law banning smoking in apartments and the like, because while problems might occur after that smoker has moved out, that individual is responsible for his or her domain while living there, and so we move into the whole "personal rights" thing, which tends to tick off a lot of people. That's probably why people have only gone as far as compromises, like having rooms that are strictly for smokers or strictly for non-smokers. Referring back to public places, interestingly enough there are some laws in place in various regions that deal with smoking in public areas. Unfortunately, the big problem with these laws is they are never enforced. For example, in Washington state, the Smoking in Public Places law "prohibits smoking within twenty-five feet of entrances, exits, windows that open, and ventilation intakes that serve enclosed areas where smoking is prohibited." This is all well and good, but no one actually cares about this rule. People smoke directly outside of doorways and windows all the time, and there are conveniently placed ash trays right in front of many doors, like an open invitation to stop and smoke there. There is also a rule that if you smoke at a bus stop, you can't smoke inside the bus kiosks, yet I have sometimes been driven from my bench by people smoking inside or just next to it. You can call for laws until the cows come home, but if people don't report violations, or cops aren't around/decide there are more pressing matters to consider, it won't matter. It's a shame, because I would love to be able to walk outside of a building and not be assaulted by smoke.

ik9744 | Student

Yes it should, many people each year get lung cancer without smoking once.

crystaltu001 | Student

i think smoking should be banned from public places because when there is a lot of people and you are smoking it can actually harm the people. Smoking is already bad in the first place and you can harm yourself by getting diseases that can't be fixed so it should be banned from public places because no one should be getting harmed from what you are doing.

mchandrea | Student

Yes, smoking should be banned from public places. Secondhand smoke is also as dangerous to the body as that of the smoker himself. I personally think that smoking in public is a little bit disrespectful especially in closed places with the presence  of old people and children. If you want to kill yourself through smoking, don't let other people suffer with you. Passive smokers or involuntary smokers have no control over the air we breath.

Smoking itself should not be encouraged because it does kill you. It is addicting, and it does hurt the body. In a wider context, I think smoking should be banned. Not just in public places.

laurto | Student

Smoking should definitely be banned from public places. First off, smoking is unhealthy. If people want to smoke, it should be far from non-smokers because if they want to be unhealthy they should do it on their own and not get others to have to inhale that. It bothers people and it smells pretty bad too. Cigarette stubs can also cause fires. 

rachellopez | Student

I think smoking should be banned in enclosed public areas. An large outdoor area that is open to the public is acceptable as well as a designated area for smoking. However, if someone wants to avoid the smoke for health reasons or if they just don't like it, they need to be able to do that. There are many facts about second hand smoke and people who want to stay away from that need to be able to.

I have a great example where smoking should be banned: the school restroom. I know they say smoking is not allowed in our school, but kids still continue to smoke in there every day. The teachers are aware because they stand in there during hall breaks, but nothing has changed. I always come out smelling like smoke and it bothers my allergies and asthma. It makes me feel bad and I'm sure that is how some people feel in public places like restaurants and stores. That's why I feel there should be a specific area for smoking or no smoking allowed at all.

Wiggin42 | Student

Smoking is one of those things that I feel very strongly about. I absolutely believe that it should be banned in all public places. We have no excuse to do so otherwise because we know of its detrimental impacts on human health, the environment, and society as a whole. 

Every day a group of adults smoke near a school bus stop and it angers me to no end. The children have no choice but to wait there for the bus and inhale the poison in the air. If a smoker has made the decision to smoke and jeopardize their own health, that's fine. But the freedom to make mistakes should no longer be upheld when it hurts others. 

clyoon | Student

Smoking should be banned in public places because it not only affects the health of everyone exposed to the smoke, but it's also just common courtesy to be considerate and not put others in uncomfortable positions for your leisure. If you can refrain from it, the people around would appreciate it. You've already read all the health hazards of smoking, but respect and unselfishness should be considered. Rather than saying people are selfish while smoking, I want to say that people are lacking consideration of others while they do in public places.

cindergirl | Student

Smoking should be banned from public areas for the following reasons:

-Not only is it bad for the smoker and the environment, other people and animals in the vicinity will be affected negatively as well.

-Banning smoking in public places can dissuade the smoker to keep smoking. 

-Cigarette stubs are one of the main causes of forest fires, (ex: the Yellowstone National Park Fire) so banning them would decrease disasters relating to fire.

I believe that there should be a specific designated area for smokers, so they can enjoy their smoke without harming anyone around them. Especially when it comes with public places you never know who has what kind of health problems, and your smoke could cause their condition to worsen. 

ziva-eva | Student

I am in favor that smoking be banned in public places as well, due to the fact that smoker stand right in front of the entrance of the location blocking the pass to those that going into the building...

fally | Student

i believe that smoking should be banned in public places because why should non smokers be harmed by the people who are SMOKING????????????

kristy5138 | Student

The negative effects of second-hand smoke are more than enough to ban smoking in public. According to the National Cancer Institute, secondhand smoke carries at least 69 harmful chemicals related to cancer, and has been associated with various heart diseases, sudden infant death syndrome, ear infections, and asthma attacks in children. Most importantly, there is no such thing as a “safe level of exposure” to secondhand smoke. But to infringe upon an individual’s right to choose what he or she wants to do? That could bring up some serious issues. But overall, considering the fact that smoking rates are leveling off or declining in most nations, (although rates continue to rise in developing nations) the government should work to promote the banning of smoking in public.


johncena1 | Student

hi,  I just wanted to say how much i enjoy reading your blog. in a world full of spin, it's nice to get some fact-based analysis.   keep up the good work.
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