Smoking is a habit that most people find hard to give up (Azar, 2008). Indeed, choosing to smoke and harm one’s health is a choice that each smoker makes. However, passive smoking or secondhand smoke affects the health of others. These people have no choice regarding exposure to harmful smoke components. Therefore, passive smoking constitutes a health risk to innocent people. In addition, it is a significant contributor to indoor pollution.
Passive smoking endangers the life of non-smokers (Azar, 2008). The opponents of tobacco ban argue that people have a freedom to choose whether to smoke or not. Criminalizing smokers is seen as discriminatory. Moreover, they argue that the tobacco industry is a leading employer and a contributor to a country’s GDP through taxes (Feist & Brannon, 2009). Further, they also claim that there are other health hazards associated with the fast food industry that significantly affect the health of many people. In addition, they argue that passive smoking has not been conclusively proven dangerous by empirical studies. As a result, a ban on tobacco and its products will deny people a right to smoke and lead to the loss of employment and taxes to the government (Kabat, 2011). However, these arguments do not consider that non-smokers also have a right to a clean environment. In addition, governments spend more money on treatment of cancer and heart conditions resulting from cigarette smoke. These costs exceed the income derived from the tobacco industry (Kabat, 2011).
A person exposed to passive smoke might experience several symptoms such as cough, dizziness, and sore throat. People who suffer from asthma might experience a considerable reduction in lung function due to secondhand smoke. Under such circumstances, it can take several minutes for one’s blood flow to be reduced. Prolonged exposure increases the chances of lung cancer by about 30% (Azar, 2008, p. 123).
In conclusion, the issue on whether to ban tobacco smoking altogether depends on weighing the freedom of choice and the health risks associated with smoking. Those agitating for a ban on smoking quote health statistics outlining smoke-induced diseases. These negative effects negate freedom of choice argument. Moreover, the benefits that accrue from the tobacco industry through employment and taxes are outweighed by the cost incurred in terms of health bills. Therefore, passive smoking is harmful, and smoking in public places should be strictly controlled.