Inhaling smoke has been proven to cause a myriad of detrimental effects, ranging from increasing one’s risk to common coughs and asthma to more life threatening diseases such as lung cancer and pneumonia. Knowledge of these ramifications have resulted in the common consensus that smoking is bad for not just the smoker’s health but those around him. Therefore, the discussion of whether or not we ought to ban people from smoking in public areas and fining them has surfaced. Although I do not agree that we should completely ban cigarette smoking from all public spaces, I do believe that there can be greater regulation of the areas in which people can choose to smoke. In addition to this, once new regulations have been mandated, smokers should adhere to these them or face a befitting fine.
The consideration of banning smoking from public spaces has surfaced, due to the proof that inhaling second-hand smoke can be just as bad for as smoking itself- depending on multiple environmental factors like concentration and length of exposure. The ban would protect non-smokers from the hazardous smoke exhaled by smokers, safeguarding their health. This knowledge provokes two conflicting points of views which must be weighed to determine if smoking ought to be banned from public spaces. Smokers will argue that we should not invoke the ban for this will make it very difficult to take smoke breaks. Many smokers report experiencing painful withdrawal symptom and this ban will upset many people. Meanwhile, non-smokers will advocate in favour of the ban as they would want the government to protect their health and support their decision to not engage in the consumption of such demerit goods. Therefore, I believe that we ought to instead provide allocated smoking areas within public spaces for smokers. Smokers will have to compromise by going through the inconvenience of fining these spaces to smoke in, and non-smokers will be still be exposed, but only to a low concentration of smoke. This compromise will help to safeguard both party’s rights to their health and leisure activity.
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However, such regulations should only be mandated if the country’s government have the resources to supported it through law enforcement. In Singapore, “No Smoking Zones” were placed in public areas to minimise passers-by’s exposure to second-hand smoke. If caught smoking beyond such areas, smokers would face a fine costing anywhere between approximately a hundred to five hundred pounds. The Singapore police not only patrol areas which have “No Smoking Zones” to ensure compliance, but also use CCTV cameras to police the ban. Without this surveillance, it can be assumed that smokers will likely not adhere to such regulations as this concept of regulation is relatively new. If a government wants to invoke a total ban or any regulation on smoking, it must recognise that proactive policing is essential to ensure adherence. Therefore, as much as a government might want to consider implementing smoking regulations to protect its non-smokers, it must ensure that it is able to finance the enforcement. Government’s must be prepared to increase their annual budget allocation to put in place the systems and manpower needed for execution.
Lastly, governments must consider the mindset of its people and their potential willingness to cooperate. As mentioned earlier, such regulations are relatively new concepts and smokers will have to get used to these new arrangements. If a high proportion of the population smokes or if smoking is considered as a norm, the society may not be willing to support regulation. If this is the case, people may smoke overtly, even in public spaces and outside the regulated areas. Policing costs will be extraordinarily high, and the opportunity cost of enforcing the ban will be too large as well. Overall, society may suffer as the funds allocated to enforcement could have been put to better use elsewhere for more productive use.
In conclusion, I believe that we should regulate smoking areas in public spaces to safeguard the health of those who smoke but also ensure that smokers can access smoking areas to ensure that their right to smoke is protected. If smokers are given areas to smoke, they ought to face fines for noncompliance. It has been proven that cigarette smoking has contributed to more than 480 000 deaths per year in the united states alone and although millions of people continue to smoke cigarettes, the current numbers are the lowest in history. If it is within the means of the government and its people, there ought to be regulation to encourage non-smokers for their decision and to safeguard their health. This will help us maintain these lower rates and perhaps even incentivise people to not engage in smoking as it may become a hassle to maintain their habit.