PROS                                                                vs.                                              CONS

Scientists agree that smoking is dangerous. Tobacco smoke can cause cancer, strokes and heart disease. Smoking does not just harm the smoker – it also harms people nearby, who breathe in the smoke (this is called “passive smoking”). Smokers choose to smoke, but people nearby do not choose to smoke passively. People should only be exposed to harm if they understand the risks and choose to accept them. A complete ban on smoking in public is needed to protect people from passive smoking. Society accepts that adults can decide to harm themselves to some extent, so long as they do not harm others. This is why the proposition is not arguing that people should be banned from smoking in private. Passive smokers do choose to breathe in other people’s smoke. If they do not want to smoke passively, they do not need to go to places where smoking is allowed. There is therefore no reason to ban smoking in public.
The opposition is wrong to say that people choose to smoke passively. In many places, there are no non-smoking bars or restaurants. Unless people refuse to go out with friends, they cannot avoid passive smoking. People who work in smoky workplaces (e.g. bars) often do not freely choose this sometimes no other jobs are available. In most countries, safety standards do not allow workers to be exposed to unnecessary danger, even if they agree. Workers should not be exposed to other people’s smoke, since they may not have made a free choice to do so. If enough people want to go to non-smoking bars, companies will set up non-smoking bars. If there are no non-smoking bars, this suggests that very few people want them. Some people are quite happy to work in smoky places. In any case, workers should be allowed to choose to work in dangerous conditions. This is accepted for jobs like mining, fishing and the armed forces. Individuals decide that they are better doing this work than not having a job at all. A complete ban is not necessary to protect workers anyway – ventilation fans can remove most smoke.
A ban would encourage smokers to smoke less or give up. If smoking was banned in public places, it would no longer be a social activity. Instead, smokers would have to leave their friends inside and go outside to smoke. This would be particularly unpleasant when it is cold/wet. One third of smokers in Scotland said the ban was helping them to cut down. If smoking was a less social activity, fewer people would start smoking. In many countries, governments pay all or some of the cost of treating smoking-related diseases. This means that governments should have a right to discourage smoking. It is legal to smoke tobacco, so governments have no right to try to make people stop. It is therefore wrong to argue that a ban on public smoking should be introduced to encourage people to give up. Smokers fund their own healthcare through the high taxes they pay on tobacco. In any case, heavy smokers are unlikely to give up since they are addicted to nicotine.
People will not smoke more at home. Smokers need to maintain a certain level of nicotine in their blood to remain content. A ban on smoking in public would force them to smoke less while at work. Over time, this would lower the level of nicotine they need to feel content. This would reduce how often they need to smoke. They would therefore smoke less at home, as well as less at work. Banning smoking in public will encourage people to smoke more at home. This will harm other people in their house, particularly children. This is important, since children are not old enough to choose freely to smoke passively. Also, people smoking at home may drink more alcohol than they would if they went to a bar. This is because they can buy it more cheaply at a supermarket or off-licence. Drinking more alcohol may lead to other health problems.
It is more important to protect people’s health than to protect businesses. Pubs and clubs should adapt, for example by trying to earn more money from selling food. After a ban was introduced in New South Wales (Australia), only 9% of restaurants reported a drop in trade. A ban on smoking in public places would drive many bars, pubs and clubs out of business. Smokers would not go to these places. These businesses would also earn less money from selling tobacco. In many places, pubs and Working Men’s Clubs are important social places for communities. They also provide jobs for people with few skills in places with little other work. It is therefore important that they survive.
There have been few problems with bans where they have been introduced. Heavy fines put off companies from allowing people to smoke. A survey for the Scottish Executive found that 99.4% of premises were observing the ban three months after it was introduced. It would be impossible to police this ban in many public places. Small workplaces will often ignore the ban and are unlikely to be caught. Staff who do not smoke are unlikely to report smokers, in case their colleagues work out who told the authorities.

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