The ability to choose how a person lives their life is the greatest right the government has granted its citizens. The government has given its citizens the right to choose which college or university they want to attend, the right to explore whatever occupation they feel best suites their lifestyle, and the right to smoke cigarettes, at a certain age of course. But the recent smoking bans, that are becoming more common in the United States, have limited smokers’ rights as citizens to choose a certain aspect of their lifestyle. I understand that smoking can lead to many health issues, and that can never be refuted, but whose right is it to dictate to a person of legal age whether they can or cannot smoke when and where they choose too. If the government has made smoking cigarettes legal then why now are bans being putting on them limiting their use?
Many smoking ban supporters claim that by banning smoking in public places, like bars and restaurants, is only for the common good of the people around them, meaning that they are attempting to shield them from the harmful second-hand smoke. And that they, as non-smokers, have the right to not be around someone who smokes. But what about the other side, smokers have the right to be able to go to a place and enjoy a dinner and drink and have a cigarette if they choose. The government is interfering with personal lifestyle. They are also creating discrimination against smokers. In Michigan, the CEO of health plan provider Weyco fired four employees for smoking, even while off the job, claiming rising health care costs were choking his business (CBS News). This type of bias has truly stepped over the line. Secondhand smoke arguments can’t be proven. There are no bodies. People believe this is how many would be killed, but try to find a death certificate with second hand smoke as the cause of death.
By placing a government issued ban on smoking in bars and restaurants the government is taking property rights away from business owners. If a person owns a place of business they should have the right, as a business owner, to choose if their business is a smoke-free facility or not. The atmosphere of a bar is created with the smoke looming around in the dimly lit room. To take away part of the surroundings that make up a “bar” is ridiculous. I am in full agreement that if someone doesn’t want to add smoke as a topping on their meal when they’re having dinner in a restaurant they should have every right. But to ban smoking in a bar is going past looking out for the common good of people and is overstepping the government’s boundary. Private property rights and contractual freedom are fully capable of resolving whether or not the business owner chooses to run and operate a place that allows smoking or doesn’t without government intrusion.
Another point the opposition tries to make is the bans will help bring the percentage of Americans who smoke down, leading to a decrease in the cost of health care. I completely commend the efforts that are being used to help sway people into a healthier lifestyle. But the truth is non-smokers live longer, which in turns means more years of them paying for healthcare, leading henceforth to a higher overall cost of their lifelong health care. The government initiating these smoking bans is an oxy-moron, since billions of dollars in taxes are collected from the sales of tobacco. Since smoking related deaths occur most often around retirement age for the majority of people, and that being the time when a person begins to pay much lower income taxes, the early death of a smoker more than likely presents a significant net gain for the government in the cost of health care.
Smoking bans in office buildings and enclosed public places leave smokers going outside to smoke, leading to them gathering outside doorways and therefore just moving the problem somewhere else. Many areas that have banned smoking in enclosed public places have expanded the ban to cover areas within a certain distance of entrances to the building. A deeper concern is that bans on smoking in public places could lead to more smoking at home. Is that really what the government wants to do? Eliminate the second-hand smoke for the patrons of local restaurants and bars at the cost of the spouses and children of those who smoke. It seems to be that the bans are really intending to get rid of smokers, or otherwise push them out of society’s view. And by doing so they are creating a stigma around those who make the choice, which the government gave them to choose, and making them social outcast.
To put a ban on smoking because of health reasons is completely biased. If the government wanted to start banning certain things on the bases of health issues they should also include one of the top killers among Americans, which is heart related deaths due to obesity. I don’t mind the government trying to educate people of the health effects of cigarettes but to act as if that’s the unhealthiest thing you could do to your body is outrageous. If the government wants to get involved with informing the public about unhealthy life choices and then in return put regulations on those things, they’ll need to broaden their scope and include every aspect of life that could lead to health issues, and ultimately death. Putting a ban on smoking makes those who choose to smoke move elsewhere. To call out such individuals is a serious violation of personal rights.
I believe the smoking bans that are put in place by the government should be abolished due to the fact that everyone has a choice to make. If a person doesn’t want to inhale second-hand smoke, then don’t go to an establishment that has chosen to allow smoking. But to violate a person’s rights is completely unethical. My biggest concern is not that people cannot smoke, but that our rights as United States citizens have been infringed upon. And knowing that how someone could support something that strips us of our civil rights as Americans is beyond my understanding.
CCG Consulting Group, “An Analysis of Economic Consequences.” October 1996 30 January
Elliott, Andrea. “Bars and Restaurants Thrive Amid Smoking Ban, Study Says .” 29 March 2004
30 January 2008.
Smith, Tracy. “Ban Leaves Smokers Fuming.” 23 Febuary 2005 30 January 2008