Smoking Ban - Good or Bad
I am ecstatic to tell you guys that posting this on Hubpages was the best thing for me to have done - the editor of an Indian magazine found this and contacted me asking if he could publish it in his magazine (you can see the spread on my blog here) and has since offered me an internship in India for two months! I will be going Summer 2013, so feel free to keep updated via IBitThePiranha!
Smoking is extremely popular all over the world, so when the smoking ban was brought into action there was a lot of debate whether or not it was the right thing to do. I have done a case study on the smoking ban, which will hopefully help people see both sides of the argument, and maybe even help some realise the real risks of smoking. It's not just cancer, it's plenty of other things that makes smoking bad as well. However maybe the smoking ban was the wrong way of getting this message across. That's for you to decide.
Many people smoke, whether it is casually for the liking of it or because they have been pressured into it. Whatever the reason, what may start off as something “different” to do, can rapidly become something they have to do to feel somewhat normal. Medical research has proven the case that smoking causes a wide range of health problems; lung cancer, emphysema, and cardiovascular disease are just some of such, and could easily lead to death for the smoker. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about every 6.5 seconds someone dies from using tobacco – that’s over 13,000 people a day on average. They also say that tobacco smoking killed a staggering number of 100 million people worldwide in the 20th Century, and then further warned that it could kill an astounding one billion people around the world this century. That would mean every four seconds someone would die of tobacco use.
Statistics show that about 10 million people in the UK smoke cigarettes, according to anti-smoking charity ‘Ash’. It is also said that a further two million people – the vast majority of them being men – smoke cigars, pipes or both.In 1948, surveys showed that eight out ten men in the UK smoked: the highest level ever recorded. The highest level recorded for women was in 1966, when five out of ten in the UK smoked. The number of smokers had decreased rapidly over the 1970s and 1980s, however, and is still slowly falling, as the graph shows. Now, about one in four people in Britain – at the age of 16 or above – smoke, the majority being men.
Smoking is, in most cases, about five times higher among men than women; however the gender gap decreases with younger age. In more developed countries, smoking rates for men have peaked and begun to decline; for women however, they continue to climb.
As you can see from the two maps, the highest percentage of smokers is in Europe and Asia, with a huge majority being men.
For the Smoking Ban
The vast majority of non-smokers agree with the laws of the smoking ban. This is most probably because of the health risks from smoking we now know of, not just from direct smoking, but also from passive smoking, and even third-hand smoke.
Tobacco, when used for smoking, is often mixed with other preservatives and then pyrolysed. The vapors are then inhaled and the active substances are absorbed through the alveoli in the lungs. The active substances then trigger chemical reactions in the nerve endings which heighten the smoker’s heart rate, memory, alertness, and reaction time. Dopamine and later endorphins are then released, which are often associated with reward and pleasure. Meanwhile though, the tobacco smoke is:
̶ coating the inside of the smoker’s lungs with tar so that they become inefficient
̶ covering cilia in tar, preventing them from wafting harmful bacteria-ridden mucus out the smoker’s lungs
̶ causing disease of heart and blood vessels, which could lead to heart attacks and strokes
̶ causing lung cancer
̶ staining the smoker’s teeth so that they appear to be yellow in colour; brushing their teeth wont get rid of it.
Cigarettes contain more than 4000 chemical compounds and at least 400 toxic substances. When a smoker inhales, the cigarette burns at 700°C at the tip and around 60°C in the core. This heat breaks down the tobacco to produce various toxins. The products that are most damaging in cigarettes are:
- tar, a type of carcinogen (substance that causes cancer)
- nicotine, an additive that increases cholesterol levels in the body
- carbon monoxide, a highly poisonous gas that reduces oxygen in the body
- components of the gas and particulate phases, whichcause chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
The diagram below shows just some of the health problems that smoking can cause. The preponderance of the public know about how smoking can cause lung cancer (it has been discovered that 90% of lung cancer patients either smoke or used to smoke), but not many know about all the other health risks that smoking can do to you.
Cancer – not only lung cancer but also cancers of the nose, mouth, throat, larynx, oesophagus, stomach, kidney, pancreas and bladder. The risk of cancer due to smoking is about 37.5%, over one third of smoking-related deaths.
Cardiovascular Disease – diseases of the circulatory system. These include coronary heart disease, in-growing heart tissue and aortic aneurysm. Cardiovascular disease causes poor circulation, angina (chest pains), heart attacks and stroke. About 26.8% of all smoking attributable deaths are due to cardiovascular disease, over a quarter of the deaths.
COPD – refers to chronic lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, in which the airways become narrowed. This then leads to a limitation of the flow of air to and from the lungs causing shortness of breath. The risk of getting some sort of COPD as result of smoking is about 25.5%.
PVD and Gangrene – smoking damages the blood vessels throughout the body, including the extremities. Damage to the blood vessels supplying the arms and legs leads to peripheral vascular disease (PVD), which most commonly occurs in the legs and feet but can also develop in the arms and hands. Smoking causes 68% of PVD among males and 61% among females, and smoking at or before the age of 16 it more than doubles the risk of developing PVD. In the later stages of PVD, open sores in the legs and feet may not heal because of poor blood supply and this can progress to gangrene or the death of the affected tissue. In severe cases, amputation may be necessary for relief of pain and to prevent the development of gangrene.
Fertility – smokers who try for a baby may take up to two months longer to conceive than non-smokers. According to a report from the British Medical Association (BMA), women have a 40% lower chance of getting pregnant if they smoke.
Smoking and passive smoking was also responsible for up to 5,000 miscarriages and 120,000 cases of male impotence in men aged between 30 and 50 every year. There is also new evidence that smoking increases the chances of foetal malformation such as cleft lip and palate.
Health problems such as these are not just to the risk of the smoker, but to people around them who are inhaling the smoke through the air, or even through the smoker’s clothes and furniture. This is called passive and third-hand smoking, and can be just as harmful as normal smoking.
ACOSH (Australian Council on Smoking and Health) did a test in Perth and Mandurah, which showed that many non-smokers were exposed to hazardous levels of second-hand smoke in cafes and pubs, and “after only two cigarettes in a car with closed windows, a child would be exposed to levels of smoke 70 times the levels considered hazardous”.
ACOSH tested the air quality in 28 different cafes and pubs in Perth and other towns and cities using a machine known as the TSI SidePak AM510 air monitor (SidePak for short), which measures microscopic air pollutants known as airborne particles. It was also used to measure the effects of passive smoking in cars.
The test results showed that with no smokers in cafes and pubs, the average airborne particle level fell within the approved range of the US EPA Air Quality Index. But with just two or more people smoking in the alfresco areas, the average airborne particle level was significantly higher, to levels that the EPA warns is a risk to children, pensioners and anyone with heart or respiratory problems, such as heart disease or asthma.
The tests on passive smoking in cars showed that after just one minute of smoking one cigarette, the airborne particle level was already over five times the hazardous level. After just two cigarettes the airborne particle level reached a massive 70 times over the levels the EPA consider to be hazardous. Even with driver’s window completely open, the airborne particle level was disturbingly high, with it being twice over the hazardous level.
ACOSH President, Professor Mike Daube, commented on these results. He said, “Even the most modest levels of smoking in cars exposes children to serious and avoidable health risks. We owe it to our kids to protect them from the very real harms caused by passive smoking. People in al fresco eating areas are also entitled to protection from this known health hazard.
“We deliberately chose to test at low levels of exposure. Even at these levels, the risks to kids and adults are simply unacceptable.”
ASH (Action for Smoking and Health), a public health campaign and charity, believe that the ban on smoking was the only way that the health of staff and customers could be protected effectively.
Public awareness of passive smoking has increased in recent decades. By October 2003, 55% of non-smokers said that they didn’t like people smoking near them. As seen from this diagram, this can be for a variety of reasons which relate to both health and comfort.
Here are some non-smoker’s views about smoking:
"I think it's brilliant because people who don't smoke don't have to put up with someone else's second-hand smoke and the environment is much nicer."
"The atmosphere in pubs is better. But you can smell the smells that you don't want to be smelling and there's more flies with the doors being left open but apart from that it is a better atmosphere."
And it’s not just non-smokers that agree with the smoking ban:
"I'm a smoker and I think it has had a positive effect. When I go outside of a pub to have a cigarette there's always other people to chat to and it's nice... I'm not looking forward to smoking outside in the winter though!"
Against the Smoking Ban
A lot of smokers will be disagreeing with the smoking ban, and thinking it isn’t fair and doesn’t help things.
Freedom of choice
Human rights say that we should have the freedom of choice to do whatever we want, as long as it is not against the law. As smoking is legal, as long as the smoker is 18 years of age or over, they have the right to smoke if they want. The smoking ban is going against these human rights, so that the smoker can only smoke in specified areas.
In any means, non-smoking areas already existed. Shops and some restaurants already had the rule of not smoking in their areas. Now however there are pubs as well, where people like to feel they can relax and feel comfortable and socialise, and therefore have a smoke as well. Only now the smoking ban pursues that they must smoke outside instead so some smokers don’t bother and stay at home instead, which then threatens the health of the smoker’s family as well as the health of the smoker’s. The smoking ban was taken out to prevent the large amount of passive smoking that non-smokers have had to put up with. Passive smoking can cause a lot of health problems, and possibly even death. However it can be causing worse health problems because the same people (the smoker’s family) would be breathing in second- and third-hand smoke more frequently, and therefore have a greater risk of suffering health problems.
ASH’s Anti-Smoking Poll Misrepresents Public View
On the 22nd August 2005, ASH did a poll to see what the public thought of a ban on smoking in communal places, and the results showed that “85% of people would visit bars and pubs as often – or even more often – if they were smoke-free by law”. However the ONS (Office of National Statistics) redid the poll, and the results came back to showed the opposite of what ASH’s results did. Figures revealed that only 31% of people wanted a complete ban on smoking in pubs and bars, and that ASH combined the figure of people who would visit bars more often (28%) with the figure of those who said it would make no difference (57%) to get the supposed 85% who would visit bars “as often – or even more often – if they were smoke-free”, making the results misleading.
ASH also did another misleading thing to their poll. Tim Lord, TMA Chief Executive of ONS, commented that “the ASH poll offers no options, only a straight 'yes or no' answer to the question about support for a proposal to make all workplaces smoke free”. This shows that ASH “are clearly piling on the pressure almost, it seems, to the point of desperation”, and that in the ambition to make the world tobacco-free “they can't abide the fact that the British public does not support a total smoking ban”.
Bad for Business
Just a year after the smoking ban had been introduced, pub managers have been struggling to keep profits up. Nearly half of the UK’s pub landlords have had to dismiss staff because of the smoking ban, and more than a third of landlords think their pub might close down if it hasn’t already. The pub trade decline is far worse than expected, as there have been some negative effects on profits, and over 75% of licensees blame the smoking ban. Pubs have been receiving fewer customers, because smokers find it easier, warmer and cheaper to have a drink at home. This way they can smoke freely, without having to go outside in the cold weather. Any family who live with the smoker are therefore less likely to go to the pub for a drink as well, even if they’re not smokers.
Discrimination against smokers
FOREST (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco), an organisation that defends the interests of smokers, believe the smoking ban has caused a lot of discrimination against smokers, and predicted the possibilities of it doing so even before the ban was brought into effect. However the majority of organisations have only been interested in the thoughts of non-smokers, and therefore discrimination against smokers had been ignored.
Workplaces are supposed to be smoke-free now because of the smoking ban, however many are also promoting smoker -free workplaces: they have started supporting policies where employers dismiss existing smoking workers and/or refuse to hire any other employees who smoke. This is one of the biggest acts of discrimination that has been made against smokers, and in most opinions should not be done. The Human Rights Act show that discrimination in workplaces against race, gender or religion is against the UK law, however the rights do not say anything about smokers’ rights, and therefore they have been suffering mass amounts of unfairness.
In conclusion to this case study, I think it is right that the smoking ban has been organised. The benefits of it outweigh the disadvantages by far, and the only real argument against the ban is from the point of view of the smokers. However, the rights of smokers should be put at interest, and discrimination against them must stop, because it isn’t fair and is just as bad as discriminating races, genders, ages and religions. There has not been much thought or support for smokers; instead non-smokers have been the only ones to be thought of. Smokers are still human, and should still be thought about with the greatest of considerations.
Although the ban will increase smoking at home, and therefore around family, two simple courses of action can be taken out by the family:
̶ The family member(s) who smoke can do so outside, e.g. back garden
̶ Get support on how to quit smoking
Smoking used to be thought of as just some other thing to do, but now we know the risks that come with smoking. However for a lot of people it is already too late – every 4 to 6.5 seconds somebody dies from tobacco use, whether it is directly or passively. But for many others it’s not. Hopefully the smoking ban will help prevent the amount of non-smokers having to breathe in unwanted cigarette smoke, and its risks., and maybe even persuade some smokers to quit. Too many people are dying or developing problems related to cigarettes and the toxins they contain. It is time something is done about it, and that being the smoking ban.
I've said my piece, now here's the chance for you to say yours. Maybe the government could've gone about things differently, without the need of a smoking ban. Share your ideas of how you think this problem of passive and third hand smoking could have been possibly better handled.
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