You might smoke them or hate them – love them or berate them – but regardless of your position, the government has decided to ban smoke from more and more bars, restaurants and cafes across the US. The smoking ban seems to strike a nerve in everyone. The news is either met with extreme glee or extreme irritation – all depending on whether you smoke, don’t smoke, own a bar, feel a ban infringes on your rights or wish the government instituted the ban years ago.
Quite a few controversies surround the smoking bans and smoking in general – and everyone seems to have their own opinion on whether the move towards no smoking was right or wrong:
- Non-smokers: almost all non-smokers are happy for the ban, and encourage the government apply it to more places, including cars and homes – so that the children of smokers will not have to suffer in a smoky environment.
- Smokers: the majority of smokers feel as though the public is prejudiced against them. There are even a few who argue that the negative side-effects of smoking are not solidly proven by science. There are less and less people to support this stance as more and more information is published about the risks of smoking.
- Business Owners: business owners who had to suddenly enforce the ban in their businesses, restaurants, clubs and bars have mixed feelings about the new laws. Some claim that there has been no change in the number of patrons – while others have been completely devastated.
- Politically Minded: a surprising number of smokers and non-smokers who oppose the ban simply because they see it as an infringement on their rights. They argue that once the door is open to government regulating the behaviors of the public, who knows what other rights will be taken away.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
In my opinion, all sides of the smoking ban argument raise legitimate points. Undoubtedly there are benefits to the smoking ban – the obvious being the improvement of public health. On the other side of the card, there are some negative points negatives like the number of business owners who can no longer pay their bills because their patrons have fled to the few, smoke-friendly clubs.
As I’ve researched this article, I have also found some completely unforeseen, border-line weird side-effects of the ban. For example, the statistics on how the ban has impacted drunk driving fatalities, spawned a generation of “healthy” cigarettes and linked barbecues to some of the same chemicals as smoke.
This article will give you a breakdown of my take on smoking bans including “the good, the bad and the ugly”.
Here are some good things that have been produced by the bans: vaporizers
- Drop in Heart Attack Occurrence. This is an absolutely amazing fact! Heart attacks have long been associated with cigarette smoke, since the chemicals in smoke cause narrowing of the veins and arteries in the body, putting strain on the heart. Clotting is also a cause of heart attack that is often directly related to smoking. Research done at the University of California found that after only 1 year of having the smoking ban in effect, heart attack rates were 17% lower than usual! Some of the individual towns studied by the University of California had more dramatic results – Helena, Montana had its heart attack rates cut in half only after 6 months of the smoking ban!
- Healthier Work Place. Some estimate that working in a smoky environment for a long period of time can cut your life expectancy by 10 years! This is because the same risks that come with smoking also apply for second hand smoke. A smoke-filled workplace can be a non-stop source of secondhand smoke – working an 8 hour shift in a smoking environment is similar to chain smoking for all of those hours. So now your favorite bartender or waiter can look forward to living a longer life with a decreased risk of developing cancer, COPD, stroke or heart attacks. (But then again, if they choose to work in a smoky environment in the first place then avoiding smoke may not be at the top of their list. You would have to agree that no one made them work there – there are many other smoke-free callings and careers out there!)
- Healthier Restaurants and Bars. No more coming home from a night out with clothing that reeks of smoke! Now your favorite restaurants and nightspots are a healthy place to spend a few hours. Many businesses claim that their number of patrons have increased since the smoking ban – indicating that all of the non-smokers who used to stay home now have a good reason to go out and live it up. Smoke-free restaurants are much better for their youngest customers – since children are at more risk from cigarette smoke because of their small, developing lungs.
- VFW and Elks Clubs Boost in Members. The few private clubs that do allow smoking are now in high demand. Some organizations like VFW posts and Elk clubs that used to have sparse numbers now are booming with new members (as long as they are exempt from the ban. For many of the clubs that have banned smoking, funds are so tight that they have been forced to give up their charitable donations or have closed completely because of it).
- More “Quitters”. In some locations, the ban has sparked renewed efforts to quit smoking for good. New York City reports that adult smoking is down 19% – which translates into 240,000 less smokers in NYC’s population. (Unfortunately, the flip side of these statistics is that other areas have actually reported an increase in smoking among working class men since the ban.) Removing the smoke from public places should technically help the fight to quit. This is partially because of the way that nicotine re-wires your brain. The more nicotine that enters your body, the more nicotine receptors develop in your brain to absorb the chemicals. A smokers brain would have billions more of the receptors than a non-smoker. Being in a place where you can smell smoke, or see someone else smoking in enough to switch on the receptors that cause nicotine cravings. The smoking ban cuts the number of times a “quitter” will be reminded of smoke cravings by the nicotine receptors during a night out, making it easier to quit.