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
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
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