Smoking in Public Places



Katie Dodgen


English 1102

Professor Lori Lovell

April 19, 2004



Thesis: Smoking in public places should not be allowed because non-smokers should not have to breathe in air that is not healthy for them, especially since researchers now know that inhaling secondhand smoke has many effects on people.

I. Illnesses

    A. Illnesses in children

    B. Illnesses in adults

    C. Illnesses in older people

II. Basics of Smoking Bans

    A. Where ban prohibits smoking

    B. Where ban does not prohibit smoking

III. Local Smoking Ban

    A. Consequences when violating the ban

        a. First violation = $50

        b. Second violation = fine not exceeding $75

    B. Student opinions

IV. Advantages of Smoking Ban

    A. Better qualified workers

    B. Easier to keep businesses clean

    C. Helps prevent damage of merchandise from cigarettes

V. Disadvantages of Smoking Ban

    A. Decrease in restaurant business

    B.  Money problems for servers


According to Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter that thirty-five thousand non-smokers die every year from diseases caused by secondhand smoke ("Secondhand" 2). As many of us may know, there are thousands of chemicals in cigarettes and other tobacco related products. These chemicals can cause serious harm to one's body and can eventually result in death, in some cases. Smoking in public places has been a serious issue around the United States for a while now, and just recently we are beginning to see the ban pick up in many places all over the country. Anywhere from Texas to North Carolina, Florida to Minnesota, or even right here in Georgia, counties all over the states are beginning to see more and more of the infamous smoking in public places ban that is being placed. I think that the smoking ban is equally fair to both smokers and non-smokers. The smokers still have the right to smoke; they are just restricted to certain places. Now non-smokers have the chance to live a healthier lifestyle than they were living prior to the smoking bans. Most of us do not like to breathe other's smoke, whether it be an annoyance or a threat to our health. I agree that these bans should be placed because of the secondhand smoke health risk and the illnesses that are caused by the smoking of tobacco. 

Sari Harrar, author of Ban Butts, Save Lives, states that tobacco products have raised the risk of illnesses in smokers such as rupturing plaque in artery walls, promoting blood clots, and prompting irregular heart rhythms (1). Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous to older people, people with cardiovascular disease, and with impaired respiratory function ("Americans" 1). According to Mark Hiller, a professor of health management and policy at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, other illnesses may include cancer, heart disease, chronic lung disease, and asthma ("Banning" 8). In non-smoking adults, tobacco is responsible for approximately three thousand lung cancer deaths each year. It also is capable of harming the respiratory health of children. Secondhand smoke is also responsible for other diseases such as low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome and bronchitis (Foulkes 38). These diseases are not to be dealt with lightly by anyone because they can eventually cause death to someone. Smoking is a very serious habit, a habit which can be controlled, if willing to be by smokers themselves.

As a result of the breathing of secondhand smoking being a health factor, businesses all over the world have adapted to the world renowned smoking ban in public places. According to the source American's for Nonsmokers' Rights, smoking bans prohibit smoking in many places such as: aquariums, galleries, libraries, museums, bingo facilities, convention facilities, elevators, health care facilities, licensed child care and adult day care facilities, lobbies, hallways, and other common areas in apartment buildings, polling places, public transportation facilities, restaurants, restrooms, retail stores, service lines, shopping malls, sports arenas, and others. In some smoking bans, smoking is only prohibited at a distance of twenty-five feet outside of the enclosed area. The only places that one can smoke in or around are as follows: bars other than attached bars, private residences, hotel and motel rooms that are rented to guests and are designated for smoking, retail tobacco stores, private and semiprivate rooms in nursing homes and long-term care facilities and outdoor areas of places of employment ("Americans" 4-6). I do not believe that these smoking bans are too strict because I am not the kind of person who likes to go out and come back home smelling like smoke. Do you like to go out to eat or to a bar and come back home smelling like smoke? Hopefully not, but some people just do not care whether they smell or not.

Just recently here in Valdosta, a smoking ban has been placed. The ban went into effect on March 1, 2004 and prohibits smoking in all public places and places of employment (Bonds 1). The Valdosta smoking ban states: "..smokers must be at least 25 feet away from the primary entrance to any public place or place of employment where smoking is prohibited (Bonds 1). Violators of the ban in Valdosta will face fines. For the first violation, an individual will face a fine of $50; for the second violation, a fine not exceeding $75 will be placed ("Smoking" 1). I am personally glad that this ban took effect right here in Valdosta because I believe it will be good for not only the college students, but also for other members of the Valdosta community. Maybe the ban will discourage smokers to smoke as much as they usually do since they cannot smoke in many public places. The Spectator, the Valdosta State University newspaper, interviewed students' and got their opinion on the smoking ban that has been placed in Valdosta. Many students have different opinions on the situation. William Lamberth, who is a sophomore here at Valdosta State, states: "There is nothing worse than a smoke filled bar or restaurant when you are just trying to enjoy some good music or something to eat" (Bonds 1). I agree one-hundred percent with William because I know that I do not like going out to the bars or to a club and have to come home with my clothes and hair smelling like smoke; smoke is the most disgusting smell to have lingering around. The no smoking ban defiantly helps prevent this from happening to me when I go out now. I love it! 

The smoking ban has positive effects on the environment and businesses. Tanya Albert, a columnist for the American Medical News, makes a statement referring to the positive outcome of public smoking as: "..protects the public from the serious health consequences of secondhand smoke" (8). Arthur Foulkes, author of "The Economics of Smoking Bans" believes that if businesses are smoke-free, then they will attract the better qualified workers to the jobs, which will force the less qualified workers to less desirable work (39). This would be a good thing for businesses because I think that better qualified workers should be everywhere. Chuck Hunt, executive vice president of the New York City Chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, states that many business operators in New York City told him that it is easier to keep their businesses clean because of the lack of lingering smoke odor (Lohmeyer 100). This is an advantage to the business owners because they do not have to work as hard when cleaning up to get the nasty, lingering smoke smell out of their business areas. I believe that as a secondhand smoker one should be able to make their own decision whether to smoke or not, and should not have to be exposed to the harmful chemicals that are in tobacco. Tiffany Anderson, a nonsmoker in Valdosta, states: "It was so nice going into the restaurant and not having to ask for nonsmoking, because the whole restaurant is. I've been looking forward to this for a long time" (Taylor 2). In a smoke-free study, it was found that the number one reason that people avoid smoky restaurants is because they do not like the cigarette smoke lingering on their clothes or in their hair (Foulkes 41). This is a positive effect of the ban on businesses because if there is no smoking allowed in a restaurant, they may get more business because people now know that they will not have to worry about the lingering smell of smoke in their hair or on their clothes. Also, smoke-filled workplaces result in higher worker absenteeism due to respiratory disease, lower productivity, higher cleaning and maintenance costs, increased health insurance rates, and increased liability claims for diseases that are related to the exposure of the secondhand smoke ("Americans" 2). Once the smoking bans pass, there will be less worker absenteeism, higher productivity, lower cleaning and maintenance costs, decreased health insurance rates, and decreased liability claims for diseases. "Smoking is a potential cause of fires; cigarette and cigar burns and ash stains on merchandise and fixtures causes economic damage to businesses ("Americans" 2). The smoking bans help prevent the damage of business merchandise and fixtures, which helps save the businesses money.

On the other hand, the smoking ban has its negative effects on the environment and businesses also. Studies show that after the smoking ban went into effect that a decrease in the restaurant business occurred (Foulkes 39). Even though the restaurant business may have been decreased by the smoking ban, I do not believe that is not too bad of a disadvantage because if people were still smoking in public places then the secondhand smoke could cause much more serious damage to a person. Marc Hiller also makes the comment that nonsmokers outnumber smokers three to one, which would mean that even if the no-smoking ban is in effect, restaurants should not be losing as many customers as they think that they will lose ("Banning" 1). Economic issues was also a negative effect for people who were servers. One instance is that servers who were assigned to the smoking section in their restaurant would begin calling in sick because the ban hurt their income. The employer met with the servers and the servers told them that even though smokers generally spend more and tip more, that they also stay much longer (Lohmeyer 98). Another example of a negative effect of the smoking ban is a nightclub waitress who recently spoke at an employment rally in New York. She was complaining that even though the smoking ban intent was to protect her health, she could no longer afford health insurance because of the fact that her tips were down (Lohmeyer 98). Even though smokers may be better tippers, this does not help the health and wellness of oneself. When working in a section with smokers, one is putting themselves in a more dangerous situation than when one may work in a section with non-smokers. Someone could walk away with cancer or any other illnesses that I may have mentioned prior that are caused by inhaling secondhand smoke.

The Kids Involuntarily Inhaling Second-hand Smoke (KIISS) program did a survey that illustrates to others the percentage of chain restaurants, independent restaurants and state associations that believe smoking will be banned in restaurants within ten years. The survey concludes that chain restaurants believe eighty-one percent, independent restaurants believe sixty-six percent, and state associations believe nineteen percent. The chart to the left represents these numbers (Lohymeyer 98). I agree with the estimated amount that the chain restaurants think because the way that the smoking bans are being placed now makes me only believe that more and more will be passed in the future. Although this may be another negative effect to businesses themselves, there will be a much more healthier society in the future.  In just twenty minutes of breathing smoke filled air makes a non-smoker's blood platelets almost as 'sticky' as the platelets of pack-a-day smokers ("Secondhand" 1). This statistic makes me realize just how dangerous secondhand smoke is. I never really realized that breathing in secondhand smoke could be so harmful to my body and the bodies of others. Just knowing that tobacco kills over four million people annually makes me think twice before I go to pick up a cigarette. I do not believe that very many people realize the consequences that they will face later in life if they continue to smoke cigarettes. We should urge these smoking bans all over the United States, not only for our safety, but also for the safety of our other loved ones. This world would be a much healthier place if smoking bans were urged in all cities of the United States because the secondhand smoke health risk will drop and the illnesses that are caused by the smoking of tobacco would decrease as well. As a result of the smoking bans all over the United States, heart attack rates have dropped by sixty percent, and the average heart-attack rate of nearly seven per month before the ban has now gone down to three per month since the bans have been in effect (Harrar 1). These numbers show that the smoking ban can only be a positive effect for all people. Hopefully, other states will begin to follow the examples of fellow states and adopt the public smoking ban in order to help decrease illness and secondhand smoke risk.

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