Should Cigarette Smoking Be Banned?
It is well known to everyone since an early age that cigarette smoking is harmful and considered a bad habit. Both adults and children understand that tobacco contains not only nicotine but also lots of other poisonous chemicals, which cause various diseases. Tobacco companies sell cigarettes and make millions of dollars on them but the damage they cause is enormous. Because of nicotine, which is a highly addictive drug, cigarettes become an indispensable part of a smoker’s life; an individual frequently cannot quit smoking even if he wants to. It should be noted that nowadays cigarettes deliver more nicotine to the bodies and they do it quicker. The tobacco companies aim at increasing people’s addiction in order to raise their sales. Frequently, they put additives and chemicals in cigarettes, which increase the addictive effect. The moment a person inhales some smoke, nicotine spreads and reaches lungs, heart, and brains. It is impossible to be unaware of the severe damage the cigarettes produce on the health of the smokers and secondhand smokers. However, the number of people who start smoking and become addicted to nicotine increases yearly. Certainly, many make attempts to quit though it is challenging due to addiction and powerful cravings of the body for the drug. Although there are different opinions concerning the issue of tobacco prohibition, the current paper convincingly argues that cigarette smoking should be banned because it brings harm to humans, society, and the environment.
It is hard to overstate the adverse impact of tobacco on the human body and its effects causing grave diseases or even death. Research has discovered that nicotine “distributes extensively to body tissues, including the liver, kidney, spleen, lung, and brain and also accumulates in gastric juice and saliva, breast milk, skeletal muscle, and fetal serum and amniotic fluid” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014, p. 110). Therefore, the whole body is under severe attack. This poisoning addictive drug includes more than 7000 chemicals such as cancer-causing chemicals, toxic metals, and poison gases and trigger terrible consequences (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010). Since the poisonous chemicals are able to reach every organ, smoking effects range from symptoms of intoxication syndrome up to deathly diseases such as cancer and tuberculosis, which result in lethality. According to Surgeon General, “if nobody smoked, 1 of every 3 cancer deaths in the United States would not happen” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010).
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The toxicity may cause nausea and vomiting, and further it progresses with diarrhea, increased salivation, increased respiratory secretions, and bradycardia (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014, p. 110). The most serious diseases triggered by nicotine which kill a considerable amount of people yearly are the following: sudden blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, cancers anywhere in the body, and cardiovascular disease. Moreover, as tobacco poisons prevent the human body from healing itself, immunity system becomes suppressed (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010). In their article, Jha and Peto (2014) estimate that the growth of annual deaths from tobacco would be from 5 million in 2010 to 10 million a few decades hence. In the 20th century, there were approximately 100 million tobacco-attributable deaths, predominantly in developed countries. However, the current smoking pattern, which is 50% of young men and 10% of women becoming smokers, predicts that nicotine consumption will kill 1 billion people during the 21st century (Jha & Peto, 2014). Finally, Vander Straten et al. (2001) claim that tobacco consumption can even alter a person’s appearance by accelerating facial wrinkling and making skin dryer, darker, erythematous, and less elastic. The authors also emphasize that among cosmetic issues, skin exposed to cigarette smoke receives chronic reduced blood flow and the decreased level of moisture that results in premature aging. Moreover, smokers acquire the yellow pigmentation of their fingernails frequently referred to as “nicotine sign” (Vander Straten et al., 2001).
In addition to adverse effects of the smoking habit on a person’s life and health, a smoker brings damage to society as a whole. First, cigarette smoking affects the fertility. Research has indicated that nicotine can disturb the basic characteristics of fetal development and result in preterm delivery, fetal growth retardation, and even sudden infant death. Nicotine crosses the placenta and contributes to fetal defects and malformations. Moreover, maternal smoking induces congenital anomalies such as ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth and spontaneous abortion which are the reasons of reduced fertility (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014, pp. 117-119). Evidence-based research discovered that cigarette smoking adversely affects reproductive health and the development of fetus. Furthermore, this bad habit has a grave negative impact on a smoker’s family and surrounding people in general. Family members of a smoker are constantly exposed to inhaling tobacco smoke. The so-called secondhand smoking is recognized by numerous studies as harmful and causing deaths and diseases (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010). Thus, non-smokers merely present in smoky rooms are in equal danger. So, a person who regularly smokes does harm not only to his or her own health but also to close people who live together with him / her in one house or flat. In other words, a smoker consciously damages the health of his or her children and beloved people. Besides, the lifestyle of a smoker cannot be interesting and healthy for the children. Instead of active games, sports, and walks with children, he or she usually chooses more passive activities. As a result, the family is deprived of the opportunities a healthy lifestyle of a father or mother could provide. Alternatively, by choosing a healthy lifestyle without cigarettes, one benefits not only his or her health but also of friends, family, and colleagues at workplace.
Finally, smoking has a negative impact on society concerning considerable costs. Venkatesh (2013) states that tobacco-addicted employees make frequent breaks and thus reduce working productivity. Additionally, by going outside the office for a smoke, they disturb other staffs seeking them. Furthermore, smoking can increase health care expenses. Specifically, the treatment of severe diseases such as various types of cancer, tuberculosis, or diabetes demand substantial sums of money.
Moreover, cigarette smoking negatively influences the atmosphere and environment as it can damage trees, deplete ozone, and pollute air, rivers, and land by cigarette wastes. Frequently, cigarette butts are thrown in forests. As a result, they cause fires, which can spread over enormous territories and damage a great number of trees. Further, smokers breathe out and release the chemicals present in cigarettes into atmosphere. In such a way, these chemicals are able to produce an adverse impact on the ozone layer (Venkatesh, 2013). It is hard to overstate the severity and danger of ozone depletion for the whole planet. To make the Earth a healthy and safe place to live in, every individual must be responsible for keeping it clean and free of poisonous chemicals contained in cigarettes. Scarce resources of our planet are damaged by different factors, one of them being tobacco smoking. However, the latter is one of the controllable factors. It means that societies can eliminate its adverse effects by banning smoking. It will allow people to stop polluting rivers, lakes, forests, and fields with cigarettes. Overall, smoking-related problems can have negative medical, societal, and environmental outcomes. Consequently, the sooner cigarette smoking is banned, the better chance for healthy, active, and clean life the future generations will acquire.
Some would argue that every person has the right to do what he wants either it is good or harmful. This statement seems to fit the major legal and healthcare principle of autonomy that is informed autonomous decision to do what one wishes with his/her body. If one digs deeper into psychology, though, it would be obvious that the cigarette makers influence and control the so-called “free” choice of smokers. Even if people decide to quit, addiction keeps them smoking. Consequently, instead of free choice to give up smoking, they get sufferings in the fight against personal craving for nicotine. The labels such as “filtered”, “low-tar”, or “light” cigarettes used by cigarette producers are nothing else but misinformation aimed at deluding customers and raising sales. Contrary to such claims, research has proved that they are as addictive and unsafe as the other cigarettes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010). Hence, it is reasonable to conclude that informed decision and choice to smoke isapriori nonsense and has nothing to do with free will and human rights.
A further counterargument against smoking banning could be that it contributes to the economy of many countries. In this regard, the study by Loomis, Shafer, and van Hasselt (2013) investigated the impact of smoke-free laws on economic outcomes in restaurants and bars of 9 states. It should be noted that the owners of such establishments expressed concerns that the prohibition of smoking would hurt their businesses since it would decrease the number of customers and the frequency of their attendance. Contrary to the arguments of the opponents of smoke-free laws, Loomis et al. (2013) revealed no significant association between these laws and employment or sales in restaurants and bars. Moreover, statewide smoke-free law provided even a small economic benefit in 1 state (Loomis et al., 2013).
On a related note, the research by King, Peck, and Babb (2014) indicated that prohibiting smoking could even benefit through national and state cost savings as well as protect public health. In such a way, the researchers suggested that except for indoor public places and workplaces smoking should be also banned in all U.S. subsidized housing, including public housing. Thus, the theorists estimated that smoke-free laws in subsidized housing would yield annual cost savings of $496.82 million (King et al., 2014).
To summarize, the paper has presented ample arguments for cigarettes banning and responded to the possible counterarguments. Complementary to adverse effects on a smoker’s health and life, his or her bad habit influences other people around, including friends, family, and co-workers. Consequently, the whole society suffers from the effects of nicotine contained in tobacco. Moreover, economies spend considerable costs due to smoking-related causes. Finally, cigarette wastes and tobacco smoke pollute the environment thus causing global adverse effects on the planet. One can sensibly conclude that the only rational decision for the entire world is the prohibition of cigarette-smoking, which will enable the prevention of tobacco-related diseases and improve the humankind living standards.