Should Smoking Be Banned?


India recently passed a national smoking ban. Should the rest of the world follow, or is that stepping over the line?

Posted by Lauren Keane on October 27, 2008 10:46 AM

Readers’ Responses to Our Question (37)

AnjuChandel Author Profile Page :

Proper enforcement will make the smoking ban in public succeed which is, of course, a bit doubtful due to prevailing corruption at various levels.

It is a sensible move though smokers may find the Health Minister's idea a bit "fancy". Poor they :(

You have to be a Non-smoker to experience the ills and irritation of having smokers around! One simply suffocates on smoke. Moreover, the health hazards due to "passive smoking" is almost equivalent (more than 80%) to what the real smokers undergo. And then that horrible lingering smell of tobacco...

Smoking should be permitted only in the concern person's "private spaces" and Not at all in public places. Period.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Blund

I'd hate to pay your marriage counseling bills. More than likely, you will be dancing to Kanye West this year.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Blund

You have a valid point of view and I’m sure that it is shared by many. On the other hand, I like to see that some day tobacco smoking is banned here. But please note that throughout my posts I’ve conditioned it to the will of the majority because that is how things get done in a democracy.

The Prohibition was a mistake because it was done abruptly while the country was not ready for such a huge change in life style. The fight to reduce the tobacco use is gradual and at a pace that country is welcoming. I like this policy and do not think it is Orwellian - If you want to see a true Orwellian approach go to Iran!!

The Constitution is supposed to protect basic rights from majority rule, but it has failed too many times to be reliable in my view. From Japanese-American encampment during the war to eaves dropping on the citizens to keeping people in jail for several years without charging them - I think we are always one catastrophe from breaking it. For me the tipping point was when the Justices decided my city can throw me out of my home to let a business expand.

TomW

I think Iran is going to lose much of its influence over Syria and the Lebanese Hezbollah in near future because it is an influence purchased by money and Money is a commodity Iran won’t be able to disperse freely anymore.

The peace talks between Israel and Syria continue because Israel needs to cut the bond between Syria and Iran in order to reduce Iran’s capability to respond in case of an Israeli attack.

With Iranian influence in the region waning, Syria will find Israeli bargaining positions hardening. I believe unless Syria takes what it can now and sign an agreement, talks will fail.

blund Author Profile Page :

Tom,

Why should it be upsetting to see two liberals argue. We argue about everything except the need to defeat McCain/Bush. That's about the only issue we stand united on.

My wife is a staunch republican. Yup, a fox news watching, mccain/palid loving wingnut. 4 years ago I bet her kerry would beat bish. I obviously lost much to my chagrin. I had to go out and find two tickets to an inagural ball and dance to the repub music for the night. It was an experience I lived through, but just barely. This year we have the same bet and I'm pretty sure she's buying the tickets this year.

Hey, is there any truth to the rumor Obama is going to take Montana? :)

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Blund, Shiveh

Its upsetting to see two liberals argue.

At any rate, the issue of freedom is a different issue than the whether a law is enforceable, but from a practical point of view, a particular law may be more costly to enforce than is worthwhile.

In Canada, as you both may be aware, conservative author Mark Steyn is being prosecuted for "racism" in one of his books called "America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It". His book can be banned in Canada and he can be banned from publishing in Canada again.

Just like in China where bibles are smuggled in every day, Steyn's book could be smuggled into Canada (if banned). Whether you can smuggle the book into Canada or not is really irrelevant to the larger question - freedom of speech. Whether it is too costly or not to enforce the ban is also irrelevant to freedom of speech.

A smoking ban is a different issue than banning a book since no on has died from reading (although I'm sure that some liberals would get a little sick from reading Steyn), but the same principals still apply: banning cigarettes is a loss of a freedom - plain and simple (as long as you don't do harm to others like in a public building).

That issue aside, if you consider all the behaviors that we do or don't do that cause ourselves harm (exercise for example, but not too much since that could be harmful), then the issue becomes where does this all end? Yes, it will cost us all a little more in medical insurance, but under Obama's national health plan...

grossness54 Author Profile Page :

Just what we need - more proposals to ban certain "unhealthy" behaviours because of supposedly increased health costs. What's even more expensive - unacceptably so - is the cost to our liberties and to the very concept of freedom. I happen to be a doctor who never smoked, and nobody in their right mind would claim that tobacco smoke is good for you, but living in a "1984" Gestapo society is a lot more dangerous to one's health. Just about all smokers I know (and I know quite a few) know it's bad for you, are willing to restrict their smoking to outdoors, or in some cases to their own residences (many don't even want the smell of the stuff in their own houses or flats). Many are trying to quit, and some have suceeded. However, the argument that society has a right to restrict our behaviour in order to save on health care costs is extremely dangerous, because where does it stop? Will be be punished for eating "unhealthy foods" (How would you like a tax on fast foods, sweets, sodas, meats and carbs?) or for, God forbid, not exercising enough? Wouldn't YOU like to be forced to diet and go regularly to the gym or be forced to pay a penalty, or even end up on probation or in the clink for "contempt" of a court order to lose weight? Why not just force us all into boot camp?This world once was plagued by a national leader who proclaimed "Every man a soldier" - with horrendous results such as concentration camp-like "communes", mass arrests and executions, and
famine. His name? Mao Zedong. (And he was not exactly a paragon of health in his personal life -he was a chain smoker with rotten teeth.)

So much for government dictating our lifestyles. For that matter, some health fanatics have also proven to be tragic disasters. (Adolf Hitler comes to mind.) You get the idea. For God's sake, just let us be!

blund Author Profile Page :

SHIVEH,

Besides setting up the basic framework for our government the Constitution, Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments were designed to make an attempt at protecting individual freedoms in our society. Individual freedom, while obviously not absolute, has been a hallmark of the American system.

While it is true there is no language that specifically addresses an individuals right to privacy the Supreme Court has interputed the clauses addressing the governments prohibition against search and seizure as a de facto argument for rights to privacy.

Of course there can be no universal freedom in a society. Hence, our concept of freedom is one in which we have the freedom to do A, B & C without worry of government interference. Our founding fathers went out of their way to start this country on the premise that unwarranted government interference in peoples lives was unacceptable and should be outlawed.

Under this heading today we have a whole host of social issues. The biggest probably being fast food. It kills more people then tabacco. Tabacoo is an issue along with drugs, gay marriage, abortion, gun ownership, prostitution and the list goes on. Outlawing social behaviors that aren't an imminent threat to public safety is seen as an intrusion on one's individual freedom. As society chips away at individual freedoms the society becomes less free and more conformist. This is not a road many Americans want to go down.

I did get a kick out of your concept of doublespeak from Orwell. Is that kind of like it is against the law in the US to either attempt or succeed at committing suicide? If you succeed you can't be prosecuted. If you fail you are deemed too mentally disturbed to be prosecuted. So, why the law? It's nuts. Do we need a law to tell our citizens suicide is bad? I think most people have already figured that one out.

We have laws against prostitution in almost every jurisdiction in America. Has that stopped prostitution and the health risks associated with it? Of course not. Instead of taxing it to offset the cost of the behavior and make sure the vast majority of people engaging the profession are diesease free we criminalize it. We've done the same thing with drugs. Has this 35-40 year old war on drugs done any good? Sure, if you're in law enforcement, the court system or in the incarceration business you're more likely to have a job today. Other then that it has simply caused our society to spend billigons of dollars trying to stop something everyone knows can't be stopped instead of taxing and regulating it. Now tabacco? We're going to set up another group of laws that will create a black market, turn otherwise legal people into criminals and not tax the issue? How much will that brilliant idea cost us? Now we've taken prostitution, drugs and tabacco and created expensive black markets with no oversight. Why stop there? If you are going to go down this road you have to close down McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's etc. as they are clogging arteries every second of every day. We could also throw all the homosexuals in jail to save society from that scourge? Do you see where this goes. The more social activities you ban instead of regulating and taxing the less people can choose what's right for them. Some group somewhere wants just about everything banned and if they make enough noise and donate enough money to the right politicians they are then supposed to impose their will on the rest of us? No, is the only right answer to this.

For years abortion was banned. Did that stop abortion? Of course not. Wealthy people simply flew out of the country and had it done in Europe. The poor used back alley operations that many times were far from being medically acceptable.

Hence, if you want to socially engineer people into conforming to a way of life and criminalize it if they don't you are heading right into a "Orwellian" world where dissent and non-comformity end up being outlawed. Maybe Indian society doesn't mind this type of government interference, but good luck selling it in the US.

Daho Author Profile Page :

The Indian national ban on smoking is bound to fail because all prohibitions - and we have the US liquor prohibition's failure - attract more attention and curiosity from, particularly, the young, who will be influenced to try the prohibited items.
The drugs prohibtion has been enforced for long decades and has cost - and is costing - billions of dollars every year to no avail. The number of addicts has increased constantly, causing crimes, violence and corruption, together with crime money. If governments would have taken the problems of the addicts differently, they would have supplied them with their needed doses under medical and political attention. By furnishing free of charge the needed doses of drugs, it would eliminate the violence to get the money to buy from dealers, and would cancel the need of the latters and the drug cartels. That does not mean that drugs should be freely sold to the public. Without dealers, the school children would not be tempted by the dealers to become their future clients.
The real solution would be to use part of the billions spent almost without results, on prevention and special education. Special education should be the most important item for all governments of the world. Real attention given to education may help solve or reduce consideralbly, not only the smoking,
drinding and drug addiction problems, but also have a benefecial effect on all kinds of prejudices and fanatisms.
It would also eliminate or reduce the dirty money which is used to corrupt in order to be able to develop all the criminal activities.
Bans can certainly not compare with education.
As for India, before banning smoking it should try to enforce the elimination of the cast system as required by the constitution - and which is still in force. Also, perhaps they should develop the use of contraception to avoid the demographic exponential increase of its population which has increased almost tenfold in less than 60 years since its independence, and the cause of so many human and social problems.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

You caught me a little flat-footed. I haven't been reading the JP lately so I had to look up what you are talking about. The settlers - at least from the story in the JP today - appear to be way out of line to me. Part of Israel's population (the fundamentalist part) believes Israels boundaries coincide with the "land of Israel" from ancient times which includes the West Bank and Gaza as well as part of Jordan. Just like us, Israel has a left and a right, but their "right" needs to get real about the West bank. Its simply not theirs. I guess that’s what you were talking about in your post.

You can comment on the conservative Jerusalem Post and meet some of their population. Its interesting. I’ve been hammered by some Israeli right-wingers a couple of times (ironic?).

The drop in oil prices hurts Iran for sure, but I see them continuing full bore in their nuclear program. Ahmidinijad is already very popular, so Iran stands to gain a lot of stature in the Arab world ( read: not Arab leadership, however) by successfully producing a nuclear program and defying Israel and the US.

The EU offered carrots for the last five years but to no avail. The US under Obama will never attack Iran, and even McCain may be forced to deal with the reality of Iraq collapsing if the US attempts to halt Iran’s weapons program, and McCain seems to take Iraq very personally (so I doubt he will attack either). The US - under Obama - will probably not grant Israel the use of Iraq’s airspace to attack Iran. Israel will have to find another way to attack Iran or rely on containment. Obviously, that's all guesswork.

I don’t believe that Iran can be talked out of their nuclear program by McCain or Obama. Iran’s regional influence will increase if the US pulls out of Iraq. No doubt about that one. There was a story in the New York Times recently about Iran training Shiites to form a Hizbollah-type organization in Iraq. That’s fairly predictable, but if successful could be a major destabilizing force in Iraq - which will be fragile for years in my opinion.

I can’t figure Syria out. We bomb their territory. Israel bombs their alleged nuclear facility. Some spectacular assassinations have occurred recently on their soil. They signed a treaty with Lebanon, were wooed in France by Sarkozy and have had four rounds of peace talks with Israel. I’m clueless.

I hope that Israel (with Turkey’s very key help) can pull Syria out of Iran’s orbit, but I don’t expect that to happen still. A treaty will have to wait in my opinion. If successful, that would most certainly decrease Iran's regional influence. Syria is one area that a Democrat like Obama might be able to help(?), but please don't send Pelosi to negotiate.

You were right last time, what do you think?

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Blund,

I can’t help it but to think that PG staff and other PG readers have been very patient with my non-stop postings today. So, hoping that their hospitality would last for the rest of the day, I’ll give it this one last try!

Government has many managerial tools at its disposal. As long as they are used through open process in order to reach clearly defined goals and to enhance the quality of life for the citizenry, there is nothing Orwellian about them. Let me explain this further through some examples; President Clinton started a mid-night basketball program to keep youth away from gang exposure. In other words, our representatives in the government (or we, through a representative government) planed and executed a policy to influence the choices that some city youth would make by diverting their attention to a more interesting past-time.

Another example; government in order to persuade the citizenry to buy homes, save some of the money they earn, buy health insurance, help the needy, reduce the income gap a little … adjusts the tax code to make these choices more attractive.

These and many others like these are examples of social engineering that when executed by a representative and capable government through open and transparent planning, are beneficial toward well being of the society.

The policy to control, curtail and eventually eradicate the tobacco use is another one of these social engineering tactics that to this date has succeeded to persuade 40% of smokers in the U.S. to quit.

The following from Wikipedia is useful information to help separate good government from Orwellian propaganda:

“The adjective Orwellian describes the situation, idea, or societal condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free-society. It connotes an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past, including the "unperson" - a person whose past existence is expunged from the public record and memory, practiced by modern repressive governments. Often, this includes the circumstances depicted in his novels, particularly Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Orwell's ideas about personal freedom and state authority developed when he was a British colonial administrator in Burma. He was fascinated by the effect of colonialism on the individual person, requiring acceptance of the idea that the colonialist oppressor exists only for the good of the oppressed person and people.

Meanings
The adjective Orwellian refers to these behaviors of State and The Party, especially when the Party is the State:

The political manipulation of language, by obfuscation, e.g. WAR IS PEACE. Using language to obfuscate meaning or to reduce and eliminate ideas and their meanings that are deemed dangerous to its authority.

Invasion of personal privacy, either directly physically or indirectly by surveillance.

State control of its citizens' daily life, as in a "Big Brother " society.

Official encouragement of policies contributing to the socio-economic disintegration of the family.

The substitution of traditional religion with the adoration of state leaders and their Party.

The encouragement of "doublethink," whereby the population must learn to embrace inconsistent concepts without dissent, e.g. giving up liberty for freedom. Similar terms used, are "doublespeak ", and "newspeak".

The revision of history in the favour of the State's interpretation of it.

A dystopian future.

Big Brother

The most common sense of Orwellian is that of the all-controlling "Big Brother" state, used to negatively describe a situation in which a Big Brother authority figure - in concert with "thought police " - constantly monitors the population to detect betrayal via "improper" thoughts. Orwellian also describes oppressive political ideas and the use of euphemistic political language in public discourse to camouflage morally outrageous ideas and actions.

In this latter sense, the term is often used as a means of attacking an opponent in political debate, by branding his or her policies as Orwellian. When used like this in political rhetoric if it is not sincere, it is interesting to note as it can be a case of a hypocritical Orwellian strategist denouncing Orwellian strategies.”

Another question asked was: “where does your view of social engineering stop?” or the general question “what should be the limits to government interference in our lives?”

I believe that in a representative government which reflects the wishes of its citizenry, people set the limits. These limits change as our social norms evolve and they help to define who we are at each point in time.

Imagine this question asked in circa 1850. -So you want to free all the slaves? Where would it stop? Black men marrying white women? May be even a black man deciding he wants to be president?!!

We define our limits, and our limits define us.

blund Author Profile Page :

SHIVEH,

I agree with Tom on this one. Your view is Orwellian.

Where does your view of social engineering stop? With smoking? Should we also ban alcohol and fast food? How about homosexuality? We've already banned prostitution and drugs and you can see how well that's working. (not)

Simply put, you can't save people from themselves by legislation. It doesn't work. If you need evidence of this I refer you back to the Prohibition Era in the US and the current 35 year old drug war we've been fighting that has done no good.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Hi Tom,

Simply stated, I believe, government policy for reducing addiction to nicotine is to gradually reduce the space in which smoking is permitted, teach school age kids the dangers of smoking which as a side benefit embarrasses parents that smoke, and taxing the product; or in satire form “bug you and make you uncomfortable and uneasy … till you give up”

Governments are involved in social engineering all the time. Our tax code is based on it.

Government is too big and too complex to be as black and white as one may like it to be. So I am not naturally skeptical of government. I’m not fatefully for everything it does either. I admit that it is a necessary institution that can do both good and bad, often depending on who is running it.

I did not quite get that Orwellian remark.

How do you think the plunge in oil prices will affect the Israeli-Syrian peace talks? Is the recent civil conflict (settlements) in Israel temporary or start of a real problem?

I think Mullahs in Iran won’t be able to continue influencing the region like before and hence the window of opportunity for Syria is closing. What do you think?

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

"So we (as in country thru government) bug you each time you make a choice that is harmful, we make you uncomfortable and uneasy till finally you give up! It is called social engineering and it is what governments do to change a society for better."

You would think that for a person as opposed to the Iraq war as you are that you would naturally be skeptical of government motives. You take collectivism to Orwellian heights in your post.

yousufhashmi1 Author Profile Page :

Smoking is banned but will it be stopped

Once upon a time not long ago India banned drinking liquor. was it eleminated.

India banned prostitution. Is it not existing

India announced cast ban. Does every body treated equal.

so on.

Such announcements unfortunately lost credibity, and therefore do not get the respect what they deserve.

If India stop growing tobbaco leaf and instead start cultivatating grain , it will be definately appreciated.

But what will happen to those who are addicted to smoking. will state take care for their problems.

I had never smoked in my life although in early age i was getting dunhill and 555 duty free.due to non smoker i consider it my right to give the sermon to my freinds. when yound my freinds laugh on me.

But later when we start growing old i noticed that with my criticism their face become pale. i therefore stopped my habit because instead of helping now it was torturing them.

we should take care for all effecties.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Blunt

“I found it fascinating a republican would try to defend and/or minimize John McCain's adulterous affair.”

I said it was an issue of character, but in the couple of years that we have been disgusting the issues, how many times can you recall me bringing up Clinton’s affair(ssssssssss)? So it shouldn’t strike you as too odd.

I said I agree with your assessment on electoral votes.

Envy Ayers all you want. I don’t mind calling him a classic, anti American, Marxist pig. A leftist Professor? How unusual. I’ll bet his students get a fair and balanced point of view.


Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Blund,

I appreciate what you are saying. The freedom and individuality that you are talking about are the reflection of a proud man. You want to do what you like and you are ready to pay the price. Charge me for all that my behavior is costing the society. I can smoke and drink, do drugs in the privacy of my home and it is my choice if I do it or if I don’t.

But is it really? I do wish that it was the case but we all live in a society that is interrelated. Our combined strength is the sum of our individual strengths and so is our weakness. Choices that we make, from recycling to driving habits, sacrifices that we endure from saving part of our income to send our children to college to joining the military to defend our country, although they are individual choices they affect all of us. We are all in this together. So we (as in country thru government) bug you each time you make a choice that is harmful, we make you uncomfortable and uneasy till finally you give up! It is called social engineering and it is what governments do to change a society for better.

Sorry dude!

blund Author Profile Page :

SHIVEH,

I'm not trying to convince you. All I'm saying it is not governments place to interfere with a persons right to choose. Government should put out information and tax accordingly. Let people make up their own minds as long as they aren't harming other people overtly.

I'm a middle aged man (57) and I don't smoke any more. I don't do drugs and my alcohol level has over time waned considerably. Age has a tendency to do this. However, when I was younger I did smoke, I did do drugs and I probably drank too much. When I engaged in these behaviors I would have been outraged by government interference in them. I've always been opposed to the drug war as stupid and counter productive.

Just about everything we do today carries risk. We can't go around picking and choosing which risks are more socially acceptable then other risks. The only argument I've seen that has made sense to me is one does not have a right to immediately threaten the health and welfare of others by their actions. Smoking in a closed room can threaten the health and welfare of people and should be banned in public places. It should not be banned sitting in ones home, outside or private clubs that allow the activity. The harm goes to the individual doing the activity and others who don't have a problem with the activity. There is still a societal cost involved in the activity hence taxing it appropriately to cover the cost.

I just don't feel I have the right to tell you whether you can smoke, drink, gamble, have sex or do drugs. That's your decision and I'm not smart enough to make it for you. However, if I believe your behavior is having an adverse economic effect on the society I don't want to pay for it. It's that simple.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

Blund,

I agree that “it won’t work” is a better argument than “where do we stop” but still I’m not convinced.

Behaviors are changed the same way that they are reinforced. For generations tobacco companies advertised and conditioned people to smoke cigarettes. Having an addictive product and Hollywood to glamorize it also helped. Government should and is trying to correct this behavioral deficiency the same way that it spread; through advertisement and conditioning. It may take a few more decades but when people are ready for the change, it will be banned or simply fade away. Remember that people used to have slaves, were against mix marriages, liked to carry their revolvers on their hips, would smoke anywhere,… but things changed. My emphasis on previous posts is on why people smoke against their own better judgment. That is the key to stopping it.

Tobacco is a drug but it is not as potent and gratifying as other drugs. Many people are going to use it if it is readily available; but if it is banned and is only available illegally and at a high price, I don’t think it has enough instant gratification to warrant a black market.

blund Author Profile Page :

SHIVEH,

Banning tabacco products is a prohibition issue. It's nothing more then government attempting to legislate out of existence a personal choice and in the past it hasn't worked. There is no indication it will work today in anything that resembles a free society.

Most of us are fully aware what the health issues are surrounding smoking and the financial cost of the behavior. We're also aware of the dangers and financial issues surrounding driving cars. We shouldn't ban behaviors simply on these terms. What we should do is tax them accordingly. If one wants to smoke they should be prepared to pay their share of the price that this behavior is costing their society. If that price is too high they should quit.

50 years ago less then 1% of the US prision population was made up of non-violent drug related crimes. Today that number is over 50%. By banning drugs and not taxing them we cost our society hundreds of billions of dollars and not solved any of the problems associated with the behavior. We tried the same thing with alcohol and failed miserably.

Hence, you can ban behaviors like drinking, drugs and smoking all you want, but all you will end up doing is creating a black market and turning otherwise decent citizens into criminals.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

TomW,
“If we go down that road where should we stop?” It is a simple argument with a simpler answer, “we stop where the balance is.” There is always a fine balance between too much government interference and not enough government involvement. We have established a constitution and a representative system of government to guard that balance.
If it was not for the money (what you mentioned in your second paragraph) a poison that kills 450,000 Americans a year clearly would fall on the side of government involvement.
When a drug that is useful in curing or managing an illness is found to have a side effect that in small number of people is life threatening, everybody stops buying it and if it is not immediately off the shelves, government gets involved. Why is smoking any different?

blund Author Profile Page :

TomW2,

Wow, and I thought my first post would have tipped you off. Your change to TomW2 wasn't a change from the message.

Anyway, I've been gone for a few days and just went back to read your responses from the previous question.

I found it fascinating a republican would try to defend and/or minimize John McCain's adulterous affair. Whether he had been a POW, marooned on a desert island or lost in space for 5 years makes zero difference. His vows were to love, honor and cherish in sickness and health, richer or poorer, etc. etc. etc. His vows never stated if you are in a car accident, 4 inches shorter then the last time I saw you, crippled and no longer as attractive I have the right to discard you without the courtesy of letting you know. That is a character issue Tom. Barrack Obama was never married to Bill Ayers. Also, there is no evidence to suggest Ayers and Obama were ever friends or even friendly. Not one single social engagement of any type between them. If it wasn't business for Chicago it didn't exist to the best of our knowledge. However, even if it had, so what? There were thousands and thousands of people who took a staunch anti-Vietnam stance. Of course they differed in their approach to how they dealt with it, but most of them were very committed to ending a war they saw as illegal and immoral. In Ayers you have a real problem. He was never convicted of anything. Of course this had a great deal to do with government misconduct that resulted in the charges against him being dropped. This all happened between 30 and 40 years ago. Since then Ayers has gone on to become a tenured college professor (early childhood education). Now there's a profession a current terroist is going to jump right into. (yes, sarcasm). He is well respected in his field and in the Chicago community. Ayers is by no means public enemy number one, two or 500,000th. To make the attempt at linking Ayers to Obama makes about as much sense as me saying since McCain cheated on his wife 30 years ago he'll cheat on his current wife. Hence anyone who associates with McCain is a cheater. Both arguments are ridiculous.

Tom, I'm assuming you know McCain is going down in this election. As I stated before it started he never had a chance. Whether the economic meltdown took place or not he was still going down. Bush slimed him 2000 and the administrations record has done him in for a second time. The only drama left is how bad of a whopping will the repub's take on this election and how much of congress will they lose. Americans may be rather a conservative group when it comes to national elections, but bad behavior and poor policies can even change that trend. If the dems squander the opportunity they will be given on Tuesday then they deserve to be voted out just like the repub's deserve to be voted out this time around.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Shiveh

Your post does open up some major cans of worms, however. Should motorcycles be banned or maybe seat belts required? What about fast foods? High school football and the numerous injuries to the players (and increased cost to us all)? What should be the limits to government interference in our lives? Regulate anything if harmful? That covers a huge expanse of territory in my opinion.

I doubt they will ever ban smoking in the US simply because our government makes too much money off of the tobacco companies - not to mention the states that successfully sued the tobacco industry and used the money for other pet projects. In reality, our government (state and federal) loves smoking.

Our government supports anything that can sustain its growth which represents about 35% of our GDP - up from less than 10% at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Oh, and I want to tell you that you nailed the Syria-Israel peace attempts - from a discussion we had quite awhile back. Its gone much farther than I thought it would.

blund Author Profile Page :

I agree with TomW2. It is absurd.

Shiveh Author Profile Page :

People generally agree that smoking is a health hazard; a habit that may eventually be lethal. The disagreement is about what if anything governments should do about it. One school of thought is based on the sanctity of freedom of choice and privacy, and that governments have neither the obligation nor the right to stop citizens from harming themselves. This is an emotional argument that breaks apart if scrutinized. It is easily seen that in hazardous behavioral cases in which people are not emotionally or habitually attached to the government interference is generally welcomed. Safety belts in cars minimize extend of injury in accidents hence reducing the cost to insurance companies. So, Insurance companies have successfully lobbied the government to make them mandatory in order to reduce cost. They did the same with bicycle helmets and work place hard-hats. In all those cases although the choice could be considered as personal, little resistance was offered by “personal choice” advocates because the attachment was not emotional.
Drugs, Gambling, Prostitution, Suicide, …, and Smoking are all personal choices that in different ways are harmful to the individual and also to the society. They cost all of us huge amounts in health care, insurance and prevention. Nevertheless, what makes money, especially if it makes it for some powerful organizations, always finds a way to survive.
So, mostly the same people that consider a few growing cells in a woman’s body government business, and mostly the same people that consider government spying on citizens patriotic, find stopping a poison which is the cause of 450,000 deaths each year and also millions of sick people who weigh heavily on our health care system beyond the scope of government’s responsibilities.

balasrini1242 Author Profile Page :

THIS IS A TYPICAL ANDY WARHOL'S 5MNT FAME;"EYE CATCHING FEW MNTS DUD".TYPICAL INDIAN TOO,ALL NOISE NO FANG.

terpguy2009 Author Profile Page :

What next, ban fatty foods because it's unhealthy for people? People want to say its a right to work in a smoke-free environment, and a business should be allowed to offer it, but you can't require it, otherwise your now impeding the liberty of the smoker. It's a right of a person to smoke if he/she chooses, and a business thinks its ok they smoke inside, then so be it, a non-smoker can work elsewhere if he/she chooses.

The liberties offered are not always the ones that are healthy, such as smoking and drinking and eating bad, but its inherently important. People have the right to choose what they do.

taroya Author Profile Page :

Bryony,

You got it right!

Health care costs? You think I enjoy paying for the foolishness of sports medicine for all those sprained ankles, twisted knees, knee surgery, back pain, and all else that comes from too much exercise?
And what causes you to think that I don't pay health care premiums and taxes the same as anyone else?
It is NOT YOUR BUSINESS what I do in my home or car, or out in the open air, if that is where I choose to smoke.
If smoking is to be banned, then so should alcohol. Alcohol IS responsible for more deaths than smoking, and not just drunk driving.
WHY should I pay higher health care for YOUR cirrhosis of the liver, eh?
Not to mention that my taxes pay for the keep of those DUI that did finally make it to jail, what makes you think that I want to pay for them?
No, smoking should not be banned. And the more others try to shove their opinion down my throat, the less likely I am to quit.
Now, put THAT in your hat and SMOKE it.

fan1 Author Profile Page :

The question is not if it should be banned, but why are we even talking about the need to ban it? Anybody who is aware of the dreadful risks and consequences of smoking should want to immediately stop. And so, this really speaks more to the presence of a pandemic of willful ignorance than the need for socio-political debate.

jadewalsh Author Profile Page :

YES, every country should pass and enforce anti-smoking laws.

1. It preserves the health of the people around the smoker. If an individual wants to destroy his own health, have at it... but smoke affects others and that's where we should draw the line.

2. Smokers are EVERYONE's problem. Cost of health care? Millions of government money going to pay for treatment of diseases caused by tobacco. Cost of private health insurance? Driven higher by those lucky insured who also spend millions in treatment of smoke-related illnesses. So don't tell me it's none of my problem if my taxes pay for the aftermath of your addiction, or if my health insurance premiums are affected by your bad choices in life.

bryony1 Author Profile Page :

I've smoked for 45 years, before it was allowed to young teen-agers, through a period when no one seemed to care much, and now when it's anathema and represents a big chunk of income from the "tax-them-'til-they-quit" idiotology )sic), a method of behavior control not only applied to smokers.

Dope smokers will say dope isn't as bad for you as tobacco. News! Any burning smoke entering the lungs carries carcinogens and is bad for you.

Smoking tobacco isn't good for you -- in fact, it's often lethal -- but the control-freakishness that afflicts our society these days has focused on what you do to yourself (and to some extent to others around you with 2nd-hand smoke), and that's where I draw the line. What I do outdoors or in my home or my car is my business. If I'm willing to pay the price, what do you care? And what right do you think you have to tell not to?

Alcohol is bad for you unless it's your daily glass of red wine proclaimed, without much proof, as being good for you. Drunk drivers kill, maim, mutilate. A drunk nurse killed a woman I loved very much, my unofficially adoptive grandmother. At 81 years of age, she was preparing for a cross-country tour in her lime-green vintage Cadillac. She possessed all her faculties, was loving and witty and kind. The other driver, with her 11-year-old daughter in her car, ran a red light and broadsided PawPaw, who was driving, on the driver's side . She was about 4'11" and weighed about 85 pounds. You can imagine. The nurse got off for reasons I've never understood.

No one suggests outlawing alcohol. Not after Prohibition, which saw some of the worse criminal behavior this country has ever seen flourish nearly uncheckedd.

If I had to guess, I'd say alcohol kills more people than smoking does. For one, many people have allowed themselves to be browbeaten out of their addiction by friends, family and their own children, as well as utter strangers. I'll never let that happen to me. Second, alcohol not only causes fatal accidents, but is often the real reason that remains undeclared on death certificates that instead read: "Massive pulmonary cardiac arrest," of which my father, an alcoholic, died.

We don't need to outlaw smoking any more than we need to outlaw drinking. Fools like me are going to smoke if we want to, just as drunks are going drink and druggies (of which Mr. Obama is NOT one) are going snort, smoke, swallow or shoot up. Fools like drunkards are going to drink. We'll suffer the consequences of what we choose to do, as we have every right to. Smoking is heavily controlled already. You can't even smoke on benches many, many yards away from buildings on hospital "campuses" -- or college campuses, for all I know.

This is still a free country, and this campaign has been a potent reminder to Americans that people have the right to do what's not expressly forbidden by city, state and federal laws and the Consitution.

Smokers will quit when they are ready to. I'm leaning in that direction myself -- it's not very pleasurable any more. But I'll be damned before I let anyone MAKE me quit.

InHarmsWay Author Profile Page :

ASK Barack Obama. He was a 3-pack a day smoker who has cut back to less than one pack a day on the advice of his campaign.

Just saw an ad for Chantix. Maybe that would help his nicotine addiction. I don't know if it has any affect recreational cocaine use, so he might have to do something else about that.

eclecticelder Author Profile Page :

Smoking bans. Steroid investigations. What a phenomenal waste of our energies when the world is going to hell in a handbasket of our making. Why not ban drinking alcohol? Its just as offensive to non-drinkers "exhaled upon."

Ridiculous.

TomW2 Author Profile Page :

Its absurd.

stateofplay Author Profile Page :

Actually Joe the Plumber was the only person who asked a sensible question to Barack Obama (something the major news outlets refuse to do)but as to smoking, its none of your damn business. I do not smoke, I do not like it but since it is legal (and should remain so). What's next, fatty foods? Are you going to make it illegal for me to drive a sports car? How about own a gun? What if I decide to have more than 2 children....since we are moving slightly towards socialism, are we going to emulate China's 1 child policy for the "good of the planet"? It's none of your damn business.

RaymondTAnderson Author Profile Page :

An indoor smoking ban in public places would improve any country. Besides being a health detriment, it's a civil rights issue, since exhaled smoke cannot be kept from assaulting the lungs of the non-smoker. Regrettably my country, the USA, has not been a world leader in either health or civil rights.

yeolds Author Profile Page :

Yet another ridiculous problem for the site. Lately the questions are as important to the problems of the world as what Joe, the plumber, who was not a plumber, and who did not have $250000 income had to do with the major problems about to face the two runners for the presidency.

I am not opposed to smoking bans, but their importance with today's financial, ecological, international fiascoes, and other major movers of civilization are negligable.

Perhaps the authore, being WELL PAID MSM members and thus removed from the daily problems of 95% of the world's population can not come up with points of wide ranging interest - for all those problems are too contraversial, while yapping about smoking is an elitist issue.

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page :

While populations are going through ruinous world financial, food and environment crises, may it not be the wrong time to consider national smoking bans?

As a non-smoker for more than twenty years now, I think I do understand how crucial it is to remain healthy; but are there not extreme circumstances when activities such as smoking are acceptable alternatives to mass suicide in large segments of the population?

I suggest national bans on humanitarian crises, beginning with financial, alimentary, environmental and military ones.

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