Pros & cons of banning smoking


In decades past, smoking was a welcome badge of adulthood, celebrated by ubiquitous cigarette ads and promoted by movie and TV stars. Today, fewer people smoke because of health concerns and cost, as well as bans that cities and states have imposed. This legal prohibition has both positive and negative effects.

Pro: Health

The Surgeon General warns about the dangers of smoking on every pack of cigarettes. Banning smoking prevents people from engaging in the practice and endangering their health. In addition, a ban eliminates second-hand smoke, which puts everyone around a smoker at risk. This includes non-smokers who work or live in unhealthy environments, such as waitresses at bars, and children of parents who smoke.

Pro: Money

In 2008, the retail price of a pack of cigarettes ranged from £2 to more than £4. In addition, the Center for Disease Control estimates that, on average, every pack of cigarettes smoked costs each state as much as £10 when health prices and lost productivity are considered. Banning or restricting smoking eliminates (or at least reduces) these costs.

One way states seek to reduce smoking is by levying taxes on the product. Texas made close to £0.9 million in cigarette tax revenue. See Resources for a link to smoking costs.

Other Pros

Smoking fills the air with harmful pollutants that cause unpleasant smells and discolouration in clothing, furniture and home decorations. A smoking ban would eliminate this and save the costs of filtering and cleaning.

In addition, smoking poses a fire hazard if the smoker falls asleep with a lit cigarette or if burning ash lands on flammable material in the trash. A ban would prevent these types of fires.

Con: Rights

Banning smoking may infringe on a person's individual right to behave as he pleases. In addition, basing this prohibition on health reasons may be hypocritical when other substances that may pose similar or greater threats to health, such as alcohol and fattening foods, are allowed.

Con: Business

People often include smoking to the list of pleasurable activities they enjoy when dining out or visiting a bar. Banning smoking at these establishments may make people less likely to visit, which can hurt the business owners if smokers make up a large percentage of their customers.

On the other hand, potential patrons who may have avoided a location because smoking was allowed may now visit a business because of the lack of irritating smoke.