Should smoking in public places be banned?
Some countries, such as Singapore and the UK, have already introduced legislation which imposes a ban on smoking in workplaces and other public places. Other countries are considering such a ban and this has given rise to much controversy among the population of these countries.
My view is that everyone has a right to work in a comfortable, clean, healthy environment and should not have to put up with other people’s nicotine habit. Smoking is a very antisocial habit which, at the very least, can cause discomfort to others in the form of a smoky atmosphere and dirty surroundings caused by dropped cigarette ash on the floor, overflowing ashtrays and discarded cigarette ends.
Smokers also endanger the health of others. If people want to ignore the dangers and go on smoking, despite the known dangers, then that is their choice. However, it is now known that the inhalation of cigarette smoke by non-smokers, known as passive smoking, can lead to various health problems in the same way that smoking can. It is unjust that smokers should be allowed to have a deleterious effect on the health of their workmates.
Protesters against a smoking ban in the workplace claim that such a ban is contrary to the human rights of smokers, but smokers are, in fact, infringing the human rights of their colleagues by endangering their health and polluting their environment.
Smokers also complain that they have to go outside the building to smoke in all weather conditions. They also claim that smoking outside a building makes them look and feel like pariahs. However, that is the price they have to pay for persisting in indulging in such an antisocial habit.
The same no-smoking rule should apply to public places such as government offices, libraries, sport complexes and airports. People often have no choice but to go into such buildings and they have a right to have their health and comfort safeguarded from the habits of others. Most airlines ban smoking and smokers have to resist the temptation to light up during the course of the flight. Why should they not demonstrate the same level of self-control in public buildings?
The question of imposing a ban on smoking in public places of entertainment has caused the most controversy. Restaurant owners, publicans and brewers are vehemently opposed to it because they say that it will affect their livelihood and smokers say that it will affect their enjoyment of an evening out. Non- smokers, they say, need not go into a smoky pub or restaurant.
However, these places of entertainment are also workplaces and the waiters, barpersons and other service personnel should not have to put their health at risk by being subjected to cigarette smoke. In the light of this, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York has already announced a smoking ban in restaurants and pubs and Ireland has followed suit. I hope that many other countries will follow their example and impose a no-smoking ban in all public places.