Kendall Erickson Economics, 1W 11/25/11
Cigarette smoke is harmful to our environment and to our bodies. It is widely agreed that what you do in your home is your own business. If you want to smoke at home (if you’re of age), the state won’t step in and take the cigarette out of your mouth; however, it’s a different story when your cigarette smoke pollutes a place open to the public. Public smoking presents a number of problems that affect the safety and, therefore, the appeal of a place. The non-smoking laws that many states have set in place attempt to solve several negative externalites. Non-smoking laws do not make it illegal to smoke in all public places, such as most outside areas where the smoke will naturally disperse. Of course, smoking outside does still affect our environment, but unless every smoker on this planet quits cold turkey, that is an issue we will have to live with. Smoking outside is really a much better alternative of smoking in an enclosed area where the smoke will stagnate and become a problem. Many public places, such as restaurants, medical facilities, shops, schools, and hotels clearly state that smoking is not allowed inside of their buildings and, in some cases, not on their grounds at all. The obvious reason for this is because smoking presents a health risk to those who do it and to those who have the pleasure of breathing in second-hand cigarette smoke. There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke. If you’re breathing any amount of it, your health is at risk. The health consequences of involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke are many: “Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.” (Smoke-Free Environments Law Project). For those of us with asthma, public smoking presents an immediate risk. I know from personal experience how quickly an asthmatic can be affected by secondhand smoke; let me tell you: it is not fun. Due to the fact that nearly half of nonsmoking Americans are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke, this is no minor issue. If one chooses to damage his/her own body by smoking, it is their choice; however, nobody else needs to be on the receiving end of the negative consequences. Non-smoking laws attempt to prevent these negative externalities by forbidding smoking in some public places.
BIBLIOGRAPHY "Smoke-Free Environments Law Project." The Center for Social Gerontology. The Center for Social Gerontology, 27 June 2006. Web. 29 Nov. 2011. <http://www.tcsg.org/sfelp/health.htm>.
"The Benefits of a Smoke-Free Policy." Live Smoke Free. Live Smoke Free, 24 Oct. 2009. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://www.mnsmokefreehousing.org/landlords/benefits.html>.