The debate for or against smoking in public places has raged for decades. Proponents on either side of the isle have passionately represented and defended their stand with utmost conviction. All the facts presented indicate that smoking presents a public health hazard. In view of the hazards presented, many states and local authorities are rushing to enact legislation that will protect the general public from the dangers associated with smoking.
Included in the said legislation is banning smoking in public places such as restaurants and bars. The arguments presented in support of the legislation show that nonsmokers suffer from involuntary smoking as a result of second hand smoking. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) approximately 3,000 lung Cancer deaths and 62,000 deaths from coronary heart disease are linked to second hand smoking annually ("CDC - Secondhand Smoke - Smoking & Tobacco Use,"). Research also indicates that second hand smoke causes severe conditions in children such as sudden infant death syndrome, middle ear infections and an array of respiratory ailments. There is also proof that exhaled smoke has more carbon monoxide than inhaled smoke. With all these facts, the legislation is not only inevitable but also imminent.
However many California owners and operators are expressing concerns about the legislation. They feel that they should operate their businesses without government interference. They claim that the government is exercising Regulatory Taking. This is when government limits property owners and operators from reasonably using the said property. These limits deprive the owner and operator a deserved economic gain (Fischel, 1995). In view of these concerns, some compromises and alternatives to total smoking ban have been suggested.
One of the suggested ideas is that bars and restaurants be allowed to institute their own smoking policies. This means bars and restaurants be allowed to decide whether to allow smoking or not. States such as California demand that owners require customers to stop smoking and exercise reasonable steps to encourage compliance. Such measures should be refusing to admit or serve those who infringe the smoking policy. Others propose that such premises that permit smoking at all times should not be allowed to admit people who are under the age of smoking. Also suggested is that separate sections for smokers and nonsmokers be created. Finally all customers entering the premises should be made aware of the risks involved in smoke inhalation, secondary or otherwise. Just like the warning on a cigarette box, such warning should be placed in places on the premises where they are clearly visible.
In conclusion, the decision to instil smoking bans should be made by the people. No government should enforce a law like making smoking illegal unless the people demand so.
CDC - Secondhand Smoke - Smoking & Tobacco Use. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/secondhand_smoke/
Fischel, W. A. (1995). Regulatory takings: Law, economics, and politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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