Ban on smoking is a public policy issue that many people are discussing in many countries across the world. If to look at this critically, different arguments may arise. Smoking has negative effects on people. This makes it a contentious issue. However, this does not provide a solution to the problem. A solution to this problem should be found.
The history of smoking ban in the Unites States dates back to the early 1960s. Surgeons released the first report on negative health effects of smoking. They published it in 1964 (HHS, 1964). The Congress passed the first law about smoking a year later. It stated that all companies producing cigarettes had to label their packets with health warnings. This was the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965. The Congress later passed a ban on cigarette advertisements in media in 1969. This was the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1969. The effects of smoking can be quite detrimental. Second hand tobacco smoke can affect passive smokers adversely.
In 1970s, the Government initialized restrictions on smoking in government buildings, public places, and airplanes. However, the Government did not ban smoking. Arizona became the first state to have public places being smoke free. The Civil Aeronautics Board asked for no smoking sections on all commercial airline flights.
The 1980s saw the production of various reports, regarding smoking. For instance, the Health Consequences of Involuntary Smoking was a report produced by the surgeon general. There were several developments in the issue of smoking. In 1971, the surgeon general proposed a ban on smoking in public places by the Federal Government. In 1972, the surgeon general declared smoke to be a cause of health problems. In 1973, Arizona became the first state to ban smoking in various public places. There was then a declaration by the Civil Aeronautics Board that there would be no smoking sections on all commercial airlines. In 1974, Connecticut started applying smoking restrictions in all restaurants. In 1975, Minnesota passed a law that restricted smoking in public areas. Later in 1977, California limited smoking in restaurants and other public areas. In 1983, San Francisco passed a law that put restriction on smoking in private work places.
In 1986, a surgeon report revealed some effects that smoking had on health. The report proposed that second hand smoke was a significant cause of lung cancer both in active and passive smokers. Later same year, the National Research issued a report that discussed health effects of involuntary smoking. In 1987, the US department of Health and Human Services created rules that all tall building should be in a smoke free environment. In the same year, Minnesota enacted a law that obliged all hospitals in the state to ban smoking by 1990. Later, a poll study showed that about 55% of adults were supporters of a complete prohibition of smoking in all public areas. In 1988, the Congress, passed the regulation that prohibited smoking in all domestic airline flights. California also supported a statewide prohibition of smoking aboard commercial airplanes, trains, and buses serving within the state.
Recent developments in the issue of smoking include the regulation passed in Oregon in 2009. It stipulated that workplaces and restaurants had to enforce a 100% no smoking ban. It included bar restrictions on smoking as well. In various parts of the United States, about 16000 municipalities enforce a 100% ban on smoking in work places, restaurants, and bars by local, commonwealth, or state law. This covers more than 70% of the US population. These statistics show how relevant enactments on smoking are to the Unites States population.
Maintaining Status Quo
Maintaining things the way they are will appeal to smokers, who feel that smoking has positive effects on them. For instance, there are those who say that smoking improves motor skills, attention, and memory. A complete ban on smoking may not appeal to them. Restrictions are better since smokers can smoke but only in restricted areas.
In addition, smokers bring revenue to the government. This is because by buying cigarettes, they boost sales for cigarette manufacturing companies. The government taxes these companies to generate revenue.
Finally, companies that manufacture cigarettes provide employment opportunities to many people. This way, many people are able to earn a living. Maintaining the status quo hence will maintain available employment places in the companies.
The disadvantage of this alternative is that more people will continue to die of heart ailments and cancer, which are caused by cigarette smoking. This is dangerous since it leads to loss of lives of people who are productive and who can contribute to the growth of the economy. The deaths also deprive the country from crucial work force. Instead, this workforce can bring significant change in the country.
Nationwide Awareness on Effects of Smoking and Avoidance of Addiction
This helps ensure sustenance to the already existent companies that manufacture cigarettes. These companies will not be closed as a result of a complete ban on smoking. This translates to sustainable employment and revenue to the government in the form of taxes.
The method is also effective since it does not just ban people from smoking, but also educates them about harmful effects of smoking. This way, people will not have to hide from authorities when they smoke. There are those who will heed to stop smoking altogether.
In addition, the method appeals to young people. This is the group affected by smoking more than any other group of people. People can learn that by quitting smoking they will save money and will also avoid risks associated with smoking such as heart ailments and cancer.
This method may be difficult to implement. Some of the challenges include lack of funds to conduct the campaign.
The method may also appeal only to few people, depending on the strategy used. There are those who will ignore the call to quit smoking. There are those who will say, “it is my life”.
Several steps can be taken in order to make it harder for people to access tobacco.
The Government may also initiate policies that will make it hard for people to smoke. For instance, cigarette manufacturers should be taxed heavily. This will lead to an increase in price of the product. This will discourage many people, especially youths since they cannot afford to pay high prices for cigarettes. Many of them will thus opt to quit.
The government may also enact laws that restrict selling of tobacco to children. This will reduce cases of early addiction significantly. Considering that many people start smoking in their teen years, the question of adult engagement in smoking may be addressed to some extent considering that these children will become adults at some point.
This method is quite convenient since it is easy to implement.
This method is also less involving compared to other methods. It does not involve costs related to conducting campaigns.
The method may discourage investment in the manufacture of cigarettes due to an increased tax burden.
Sales will decrease significantly. Maintaining high sales levels requires that manufacturers of cigarettes retrench some employees. This may lead to unemployment.
The method may not be effective among people with high purchasing power. There are people who are ready to spend a lot of money on drugs so that they can enjoy that feeling the drugs bring. Such people will still continue smoking.
Creating a World where Smoking or other People Seeing Smokers Smoke is not a Norm but an Exception
It is essential to create a world where smoking is inappropriate in the society. This will discourage young people and adults from smoking as this is awkward and old fashioned. Research shows that most smokers start smoking when they are still in school. There are those who start smoking while in high school. There are those, who begin to smoke in college.
Most of the time, youths engage in smoking due to peer pressure. If we create a world where smoking is a taboo, this will help eliminate peer pressure rearing smokers. This is because there will be fewer affected by peer pressure teens engaging in smoking compared to the present situation. Parents, teachers, the Government, NGOs, religious groups, and medical practitioners will dedicate their time and energy to create this world. They will create awareness about the negative effects of smoking. People will realize that by smoking, one is being “stupid”. It is his or her life that is at stake. The development will be beneficial at the family level. A person who smokes will appear irresponsible. He or she will become conscious about the example he or she is providing to kids. This will discourage him or her from smoking to a great extent.
Moreover, media will find it hard to accept advertisements that encourage smoking. This is because they will tarnish the name of the media company. People will view it to be encouraging a killer habit. Society will react to such shows with criticism. This will have a greater effect than current legislations that restrict smoking to certain areas.
This method is effective since it involves a religious aspect. For those who support religion, they will feel like they are “alone” in the smoking “world”. This way, they will opt to quit smoking.
The method is also convenient since it touches on personality issues. Many people stop a habit when they feel it is making other people uncomfortable. If the society creates such a world, smokers may feel they are being a letdown. Most of them will eventually quit.
Perceiving smoking as a negative habit is something that future generations will adopt. If one generation learns to shun smoking, subsequent generations will follow it.
The method may be costly since it involves widespread campaigns against smoking.
The method may also take time to become fully effective.
I believe that through campaigns and education initiatives, people learn to appreciate staying smoke-free. It is possible. For instance, the reason why Muslims do not eat pork is that it is a taboo. If a Muslim eats pork, he or she is likely to feel guilty about his move. This is the same feeling that people will have if the society makes smoking an exception, not a norm. It will have significant effect. Schools, media, churches, and the most basic family unit will turn people away from smoking.
People need to learn that smoking does not help them. There must be intensively educated on the issue. Firstly, they must understand the effects of smoking. They must understand that it causes serious problems to their health. They need to accept the fact that smoking is a killer habit. All this requires motivation. It should be included in school curriculums as a life saving lesson. People need to understand that by learning about the necessity to quit smoking, it will be for their benefits. It is a fact that smoking does more harm than happiness. Lung cancer is a killer disease in the United States of America. If people do not take a bold step to discourage smoking, then the society will be slowly losing the fight against cancer and other ailments. People should learn to take control over their lives. Moreover, it is crucial to save non-smokers from effects of smoking passively. It is equally dangerous.
To start with, the Government needs to design this initiative program. It should then identify people and organizations to help in the campaign. These may include media companies, churches, organizations, private sector, and non-governmental organizations. After this, the work should commence. People need to be persuaded that smoking is not a pleasant thing. After that, medical practitioners and stakeholders should consult smokers about ways that can help them quit the habit.