Copyright (c) 2013 Morgan D
Smoking is a habit that most people find hard to overcome (Azar, 2008). Indeed, choosing to smoke and harm ones health is a choice that each smoker makes. However, passive smoking or secondhand smoke affects the health of others. These people have no choice regarding exposure to harmful smoke components. Therefore, passive smoking constitutes a health risk to innocent people. In addition, it is a significant contributor of indoor pollution. Two types of smoke affect a non-smoker. There is the ‘sidestream’ smoke that comes from the end of a burning cigarette.
The second type is the ‘mainstream’ smoke that has been inhaled and is exhaled by an active smoker into the environment. Researchers observe ‘sidestream’ smoke contribute about 80% of smoke that affects the health of passive smokers. Passive smoking endangers the life of non-smokers (Azar, 2008). Opponents of tobacco ban argue that people have a freedom to choose whether to smoke or not. Criminalizing smokers is seen as discriminatory. Moreover, they argue that the tobacco industry is a leading employer and a contributor to a country’s GDP through taxes (Feist & Brannon, 2009). Further, they also claim that there are other health hazards associated with the fast food industry that significantly affect the health of many people. In addition, they argue that passive smoking has not been conclusively proven by empirical studies. As a result, a ban on tobacco and its products will deny people a right to smoke and lead to loss of employment and taxes to the government (Kabat, 2011).
However, these arguments do not consider that non-smokers also have a right to a clean environment. In addition, statistics show that most government spent more money in treatment of cancer and heart conditions resulting from cigarette smoke. These costs exceed the income derived from the tobacco industry (Kabat, 2011). A person exposed to passive smoke might experience several symptoms such as cough, dizziness, and sore throat. People who suffer from asthma might experience a considerable reduction in lung function due to secondhand smoke. Under such circumstances, it can take several minutes for one’s blood flow to be reduced.
Prolonged exposure increases the chances of contracting lung cancer by about 30% (Azar, 2008). Medical practitioners argue that the chances of suffering from heart diseases are higher for people exposed to passive smoke than those who are not. Moreover, recent studies show that the risk of having a heart attack is doubled by inhaling secondhand smoke (Feist & Brannon, 2009). Cigarette smoke increases the chances of illnesses like bronchitis and pneumonia in children. In addition, children can become vulnerable to tonsillitis and asthma when exposed to secondhand smoke. Studies show that passive smoke is the leading contributor of childhood asthma. In addition, it affects a child’s olfactory function. This makes it difficulty for them to differentiate some smells.
According to Feist & Brannon (2009), passive smoking puts the health of pets at risk. A recent study conducted in America shows that passive smoking doubled the incidence of feline lymphoma in cats. Indeed, the chances of them developing diseases increased with continued exposure to cigarette smoke. In conclusion, the issue on whether to ban tobacco smoking altogether rests on balancing the freedom of choice against the health risks associated with smoking. Those agitating for a ban on smoking quote health statistics outlining smoke-induced diseases.
Passive smoke increases the risk of lung cancer, coronary heart diseases, and pulmonary complications among children. Smoking is also addictive making it a challenge to stop. This negates freedom of choice argument. Moreover, the benefits that accrue from the tobacco industry through employment and taxes are outweighed by the cost incurred in terms of health bills. Smoking is also a pollutant of the environment and contributes to air pollution. Therefore, passive smoking is harmful and smoking in public places should be strictly controlled.