Do smoking bans make sense, or do they infringe on rights?
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 01:11
This isn’t necessarily a popular opinion on a college campus, but I hate being around smokers in public places. It makes sense to ban smoking in busy places, including Boulder’s Pearl Street.
We’ve all heard a million statistics about lung disease, cancer, and tooth decay, and the fact is, according to the National Cancer Institute, smoking causes an estimated 443,000 deaths each year. Of course everyone has a right to make their own choices about their bodies. But in a public setting, the choice isn’t just personal—of those 443,000 deaths, almost 50,000 are from second hand smoke.
Admittedly, the Pearl Street smoking ban boasts retributions that are too high, with fines up to $1000 and potential jail time—I think a fine closer to 25 or 50 dollars would be more appropriate. But the ban does make sense.
The fact that Pearl Street is an outdoor mall doesn’t change the fact that it is a public space. Smokers are able to handle smoking bans in indoor malls, so Pearl Street shouldn’t be any different. In a public setting like this, nonsmokers shouldn’t have to sacrifice their own health to accommodate smokers.
Besides making the mall safer, the smoking ban will also make it cleaner, reducing the amount of cigarette butts left to be picked up by children and animals–a whole other health concern in itself.
Of course smoking bans aren’t some sort of magic cure for public health issues, but they can help. And they should be enacted on principle. Governments, like Boulder’s, should encourage healthy choices.
People who choose not to partake in something that is harmful to people and the planet should be respected for that choice; they should not be expected to accommodate the unhealthy choices of others, which is why the ban is a step in the right direction.