Tobacco as a stimulant can be used in several different ways but the most common way it is used is smoking it in the form of cigarettes. Smoking is legal in most countries in the world but in the last couple of years there have been debates about whether or not smokers should be allowed to smoke anywhere they want. It is common knowledge that the ban of smoking in public places is majorly for the protection of non smokers from the side effects of smoking, but there are other factors which inform the decision to impose a ban on smoking in public places (Robbins 38). This paper seeks to investigate both the benefits and side effects of smoking in public and finally argue a case for or against the ban on smoking in public places.
Proponents of the ban of smoking in public places argue that because not everyone is a smoker, the smell of cigarette smoke is offensive to non-smokers. They also cite the health effects that second hand cigarette smoke has on the non-smokers who are fond of being around smokers. Some radical proposers to the ban, who also support a total ban on the use of tobacco, further cite the effects that smoking has on the health of the smokers themselves. On the other hand, opponents of the ban argue that if smoking in public places should be illegal then cigarettes would be illegal or contraband products. They also argue that smoking ban in public places is an infringement into their particular rights as people who engage in a legitimate act. Another reason why smokers feel offended by ban in public smoking is the fact that smoking as a practice is protected by the law and as it stands, they are engaging in a legal activity which should not be interfered with. Some of them go as far as arguing that there are more harmful environmental hazards like industrial smoke, motor vehicles exhaust fumes and smoke resulting from the burning of trash or garbage (Sloan 85). These, they argue, have greater environmental effects than just smoking. Some opponents also say that the general public has no reason to think that everybody’s natural goal is or must be to maximise their lifespan.
There are several economic benefits directly attached to the production and sale of tobacco in many parts of the world. Tobacco has been known to support agricultural output, earn several countries foreign revenue for being a major export commodity, provide income for households, and generate both direct and indirect employment in many countries. For instance, in Greece, the northern parts of the country are mostly mountainous and do not support much agriculture other than tobacco cultivation. In fact, it is deemed as one of the most profitable and stable segments of the agriculture sector in Greece earning the farmers an average of 7,000 – 10,000 euro per hectare and during the recent economic downturn, only 25% of the total jobs lost were lost in the tobacco industry (Hahn et al, 2009). Tobacco employs most of the residents of northern Greece both directly, through cultivation of the crop, and indirectly, mainly in the processing, sales and distribution of the finished product. Other countries which benefit socio-economically from the culture of tobacco include Brazil; Malawi, in Africa; Canada; and the United States, especially the state of Kentucky.
Tobacco as a stimulant also has some health benefits. Research shows that the nicotine in tobacco as a mild stimulant acts within the nervous system to help in relaxation and reduce anxiety (Sloan, 2004). Tobacco also increases the rate of metabolism in the human body and suppresses appetite. These effects can help one to reduce body weight and keep obesity in check. Smoking has also been linked to lowering the risk of Parkinson’s disease and some forms of heart attacks.
On the flipside, research has also revealed a lot of negatives about smoking especially in public places. It has been proven that second hand smoke can cause breathing problems to non smokers (Hahn et al, 2009). This happens when a non smoker, especially one who is allergic to smoke, inhales the smoke exhaled by the smoker and the smoke reaches his or her respiratory system causing itchiness in their systems thereby causing inflammations in the lungs resulting in difficulty in breathing problems and sometimes respiratory diseases. Second hand smoke also causes eyesores especially to non smokers who are allergic to smoke (Shetty, 2009). This is as a result of smoke coming into contact with the non smoker’s eyes resulting to itching of the eyes.
Medical research has also shown that second hand smoke, just like the first smoke inhaled by the smoker, can lead to heart diseases (Shetty, 2009). The cause of heart diseases is attributed to the stimulation effect of nicotine which increases pulse rate. With time the heart develops some kind of dependency on nicotine and in the event that nicotine is lacking or in short supply, the heart’s functioning is interfered with. Smoking and exposure second hand smoke are also likely causes of several forms of cancer, but most commonly lung cancer and cervical cancer. This is as a result of the tar present in tobacco, which is capable of changing the structures of the body’s cells. This contributes to the causes of the various forms of cancer…”
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