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Smoking ban

From Academic Kids

Smoking bans are government prohibitions on tobacco smoking in public or quasi-public indoor areas such as offices, restaurants, hotels, or even outdoor public areas such as parks and sports stadiums. Outright bans on smoking altogether are rare, although in most jurisdictions the sale of tobacco to minors, or minors under a certain age, is prohibited. Such laws have been introduced by many countries in various forms over the years, with legislators citing health statistics that show tobacco smoking is often fatal for the smokers and also sometimes for those subjected to passive smoking (also known as secondhand smoke). However, some countries such as Spain hardly enforce their smoking prohibitions, and continue to profit from tax on tobacco products.

Contents

Bans in various countries

Countries to introduce a comprehensive ban include:

Smoking in public places or bars/restaurants

Outdoor bans

In some places with long-established strict indoor smoking bans, many areas have begun to experiment with outdoor smoking bans in specific contexts, especially in public or government-owned spaces. Not surprisingly, the US state of California, already famous for its tough anti-smoking history, has been one of the most concentrated areas of innovative outdoor smoking policies in recent times, although it is not the only area to have outdoor-smoking bans. The advent of outdoor smoking bans has been seen as one of the final frontiers in the anti-smoking movement.

  • In the state of California, outdoor smoking is banned within 20 feet of all public building entrances, exits, "operable windows," and air intakes. This applies to all public and state-owned buildings, including all buildings part of such large entities as the 10-campus University of California system, the 23-campus California State University system, and the 109-campus California Community Colleges system. Many California public universities take tougher stances than the statewide required minimum, either by extending no-smoking zones past 20 feet or severely restricting outdoor smoking to specific areas, such as California State University, Fresno, which prohibits all indoor and outdoor smoking on its campus except for in several designated outdoor zones.
  • Smoking is prohibited within 25 feet of playgrounds, sandboxes, or "tot-lots" throughout the state of California.
  • Solana Beach, California, a small coastal town in North San Diego County, California enacted a total ban (with no designated smoking areas) on smoking on its beaches in 2003, the first community to have done so in the Continental United States. Many other coastal communities in California have since enacted similar bans, although policies regarding the scope and enforcement of such laws vary. Other coastal California cities and communities with beach-smoking bans include Capitola, Carpinteria, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Newport Beach, San Clemente, Santa Cruz, and Santa Monica.
  • Some beaches in Sydney, Australia have smoking bans in place.
  • In 2004 San Francisco, California approved one of the strictest outdoor-smoking bans in the world to-date, prohibiting smoking in all city-owned parks and plazas as well as public sports facilities. Other smaller California cities have outdoor bans in city-owned places but none is as far-reaching as the new San Francisco policy, which goes into effect June 1, 2005.
  • Cities such as Davis, California and Berkeley, California ban all outdoor smoking at outdoor restaurants and food venues.
  • Edmonton, Alberta will ban all outdoor patio smoking at bars, restaurants and casinos on July 1, 2005
  • Selected wards in Tokyo, Japan prohibit smoking on the streets. This ban is enforced and violators are fined. In response, smoking cafes have opened especially to provide a space for smokers.

Other bans

  • South Africa which passed the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act in 2001
  • Turkmenistan, under decree from President for life Saparmurat Niyazov, has banned the chewing of tobacco.
  • On December 17, 2004, in the Kingdom of Bhutan, a national ban on the sale of tobacco products went into effect. Smoking in all public places in Bhutan became illegal on February 22, 2005.
  • California has designated certain areas, such as all public schools and even prisons, as "tobacco-free" zones, where the possession of tobacco in any form (whether by students, parents, teachers, or others) is strictly prohibited indoors and outdoors. The sale and advertisement of tobacco is banned within 1000 feet of educational facilities.

Other restrictions

  • In other countries, such as France, the Netherlands and Russia, bans enacted earlier allow for smoking sections in restaurants, as well as possible special rooms for use by smokers in other workplaces (though many employers prefer not to incur the costs of building and maintaining such rooms, leaving smoking employees to go smoke outside).
  • Many California communities have established smoke-free registries for private residential buildings, especially apartments. The policies may range from complexes where smoking is entirely prohibited (whether inside private dwellings or outside), or where certain sections of dwellings may be designated as smoking dwellings. While still a relatively new phenomenon, many California cities and communities such as Los Angeles have worked with the American Lung Association, which has been active in promoting anti-smoking policies in private residential buildings. Not surprisingly, such measures are somewhat controversial. While pro-smokers' rights groups have been vocal against such policies, most California cities allow landlords to place anti-smoking regulations at will because such stringent anti-smoking rules are in a context of landowners' private property. Also, anti-discrimination laws do not cover smokers, as smoking is not considered an inalienable right. According to the Los Angeles Daily News 82 % of Californian apartment-dwellers favor smoking restrictions in their buildings.

Proposals

  • The Scottish Parliament has introduced a bill backed by all parties to ban smoking in all enclosed public places, expected to be in force by spring 2006
  • On 16 November 2004 a Public Health white paper proposed a smoking ban in almost all public places in England. Smoking restrictions would be phased in, with a ban on smoking in NHS and government buildings by 2006, in enclosed public places by 2007, and pubs, bars and restaurants (except pubs not serving food) by the end of 2008.[1] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4014597.stm) More recently, government thinking has moved towards a total ban on smoking in public places, although legislation has yet to be drafted to clarify this.[2] (http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,6903,1509843,00.html)
  • Legislation enacting a statewide smoking ban on all California beaches and in all private vehicles with small children failed by narrow margins in 2004 but similar legislation is expected to resurface in the near future.

Effects

A 1992 document from Phillip Morris, 'Impact of Workplace Restrictions on Consumption and Incidence', summarises the results of its long-running research into the effects of a ban. "Total prohibition of smoking in the workplace strongly affects industry volume. Smokers facing these restrictions consume 11 per cent to 15 per cent less than average and quit at a rate that is 84 per cent higher than average."[3] (http://observer.guardian.co.uk/politics/story/0,6903,1509843,00.html)

Opposition

In the U.S., smokers and hospitality businesses initially argued they would suffer disastrously from smoking bans, with many of them going broke. However, the experiences of Delaware, New York, California, and Florida have shown that many such businesses do survive. Still, stiff opposition to these smoking bans from smokers, bar owners, and even some non-smokers (such as libertarians), is still prevalent in these four states. Yet some operators of indoor venues are banning smoking by staff and/or customers for self-interest or commercial reasons.

In Ireland, the main opposition was from publicans, along with a minority of pub-goers. The Irish workplace ban was introduced with the intent of protecting others, particularly workers, from passive smoking. There was widespread opposition before the ban; however, promoters of the ban countered accusations that the ban would interfere with personal freedom by phrasing their argument in terms of workplace safety and workers' rights, rather than public health. By and large, since the ban's introduction it has become accepted, due in part to "outdoor" arrangements at many pubs (involving heated areas with shelters). It is viewed as a success by the government and much of the public, and many other European governments are considering similar legislation. Public health lobbyists in Northern Ireland have lobbied for a similar ban there also.

Total ban dispute

Recently there has been a growing desire by some anti-smoking activists and health officials to prohibit the sale and consumption of all tobacco products, regardless of where they are used. US Surgeon General Richard Carmona stirred some controversy in June 2003 when he publicly called for all tobacco products to be banned nationwide. A similar view is held by the British medical journal The Lancet, which called for a similar total ban in the UK in the December 2003 issue. In November 2004, Bhutan became the first country on earth to ban tobacco sale completely. There is a 100% import tax on tobacco products brought into the country for personal consumption.

Such a comprehensive ban in these countries would likely face considerable problems. The experience of the US prohibition of alcohol in the early 1900s shows that banning a harmful but popular product leads to widespread drug trafficking, which generates crime. Possibly more relevant is the fact that several US states have banned cigarettes in the past, yet all such bans were abandoned just as was Prohibition. Iowa banned cigarette manufacture and sales in 1897; Tennessee, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan were other states that banned cigarette sales at various times between 1897 and 1907.

A more recent anti-alcohol campaign in the USSR in 1985-1987 led to considerable public health benefits despite large scale illegal home-brewery of alcohol. Despite the potential benefits, it is argued that such a ban would violate personal freedoms, particularly if it is considered a victimless crime. The main arguments against smoking being a victimless crime are the health risks of passive smoking and increased health costs borne by all members of society. The argument for smoking being a victimless crime is that no adults are subjected to it without their consent.

The debate over whether a total ban should be implemented is still ongoing.

See also

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