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What are the arguments FOR and AGAINST a ban on smoking in public places?

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Introduction

What are the arguments FOR and AGAINST a ban on smoking in public places? The tobacco plant is native to the America's and was first imported to England in the 1560's by Sir John Hawkins, an English slave trader. Tobacco itself received a cold reception on the continent and throughout the 16th and 17th centuries harsh punishments including 'lip-slitting' in Russia and even the death penalty in Turkey, were imposed on those caught 'lighting up' in public places. However, despite a threat of excommunication from the church by Pope Clement VIII, smoking became increasingly popular with Europeans, with the first Cuban cigars being sold in London in 1835 [www.forest.org]. Paper-rolled cigarettes followed (1832), with the first UK based cigarette factory opening several years later (1856) in Walworth. Changing social attitudes saw smoking becoming a socially acceptable past time amongst all classes of society. This ideal furthered with both the Great War and World War II during which a staggering 80% percent of soldiers smoked, and cigarettes were rationed alongside other necessities such as food and clothing. Though experiments carried out as early as 1964 By US surgeon General Luther Terry [-- Encarta 2000] showed that smoking could lead to lung cancer, the health risks associated with smoking tobacco were largely unknown or treated with a mild scepticism. ...read more.

Middle

Can lead to serious health complications, including heart attack or even cardiac arrest.' [ -- www.heartcentreonline.com] * Lung cancer - the most common cause of cancer death in both men and women, passive smoking is responsible for around 12 new cases of adult lung cancer in Australia alone. 'In most cases, it is not found until it has spread to other parts of the body, like the brain, liver or bones.' [-- 'Why Quit' leaflet] * Symptoms of asthma These findings are furthered by results of studies conducted by the Royal Colleges that conclude: "passive smoking causes an estimated 1,000 deaths in adults each year and causes cot death, asthma, lung infections and middle ear disease in children" [-- The Times Newspaper, 23rd June 2004] and a report by the British Medical Association [released 2002] that claims over 800 people in England die each year as a result of second-hand smoke. The main argument then forwarded by supporters of the ban is that this evidence suggests that an outright ban on smoking in public would be a sensible counter to the problem, and could save the NHS some of the millions it spends each year on the treating of smoking/passive smoking related diseases. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is therefore argued that banning smoking in public places could damage staff morale, ultimately leading to poor productivity in the workplace. Finally, many are resentful of the ban and believe the section of the population that choose to enjoy smoking should not be demonised and marginalised by being threatened with legal bans. The freedom of 13 million adults should be respected and their lifestyle should be afforded a sense of measured tolerance. In addition, the ban itself would be authoritarian - an example of a non-smoking majority imposing its will over the smoking minority. In conclusion, whilst the public accept limitations on freedom in many areas, e.g. adhering to a speed limit when driving, on the basis of the broad public good, conflicting reports on the severity of the health risk posed by passive smoking has inevitably created difficulties in the drawing of a boundary between the rights of smokers to exercise free choice and the rights of the public and employees not to be subjected to environmental pollution and associated health risks caused by a smoky atmosphere. As a result, many parties -pro and anti ban- have been left dissatisfied by the proposals, which continue to remain both controversial and wide open to debate. ...read more.

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