Smoking ban refers to the prohibition of smoking as part of public policies for occupational safety and health regulations in office buildings and public places like bars, restaurants, city parks, college campuses and even public beaches. The rationale used for introducing smoking ban was to prevent second hand smoking. It has been estimated that the number of deaths caused by second hand smoking in USA is more than 42,000 people every year including infants (CDC #1, 2014). Since the implementation of this ban has made it a troublesome for smokers to smoke freely in places of their choice, many pro-smoking advocates criticize the ban vehemently raising questions about the rationale of second hand smoking. However, despite the criticism, smoking ban has been successfully implemented all across USA, and the results are positive with the number of health hazards related to second hand smoking going down. This paper would discuss in detail the history of smoking ban, the reasons for its implementation and its effects on the health of people.
History of Smoking Ban
The history of smoking ban in the world dates back to as early as 1575 when a Roman Catholic Church prohibited the use of tobacco in any church in Mexico and the Spanish colonies across the Caribbean (Leon, 2014). In 1624, Pope Urban VII prohibited the use of tobacco in any form within the premises of a church and in the porch way, failing which the guilty would face excommunication. The Old Government Building, made of wooden structure, in Wellington, New Zealand was the first building in the world to have implemented a smoke-free policy in 1876 owing to fire safety concerns. The first modern tobacco ban was implemented nationwide by the Nazi Party under the leadership of Adolf Hitler in Germany. California imposed smoking ban in bars, restaurants and public places in 1998 (Leon, 2014). California’s action encouraged other states like New York to adopt similar statutes.
Reasons for Smoking Ban
The primary reason for introducing smoking ban was the concerns over the health hazards involved in second hand smoking. Second hand smoking refers to indirect smoking in which a person despite not lighting up a cigarette is subjected to the harmful effects of smoking. Second hand smoking involves a mixture of carcinogenic gases and fine particles that include 1) smoke from a burning tobacco product like cigar, cigarette and pipe, 2) smoke exhaled by the person or people smoking and 3) over 7,000 toxic chemicals that can lead to cancer and various other diseases (CDC #2, 2014). Since second hand smoking is likely to occur more in indoor spaces like homes, office buildings, bars, restaurants, and casinos, smoking ban was imperative to protect non-smokers from the harsh effects of smoking. It has been estimated that about 2.5 million non-smoking people have died in USA since 1964 (CDC #2, 2014).
Second hand smoking can contribute to an array of health hazards for both children and adults. Children are likely to suffer from respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis, ear infections, shortness of breath, sneezing, coughing and severe asthma attacks (CDC #2, 2014). In fact, an unborn infant faces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome if the mother is exposed to second hand smoking during pregnancy. Adult non-smoking people are likely to suffer from emphysema, lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases. In USA, about 34,000 heart disease related deaths are attributed annually to second hand smoke exposure (CDC #2, 2014). Non-smokers exposed to second hand smoke at work or home have the chances of lung cancer increased by 20–30%. Besides the prevention of second hand smoking, smoking ban also involves the reasons of reduced risk of fire at work places, cleaner and healthier environment, reduced amount of litter and encouraging smokers to quit.
Effects of Smoking Ban
Several research studies have indicated a number of positive results since the imposition of the smoking ban. About 44 studies that covered 33 laws in USA and countries like Germany and New Zealand have come up with the finding that after the ban has been implemented, the number of people being hospitalized for respiratory diseases like emphysema and asthma, strokes and heart attacks has dropped dramatically. Heart attack hospitalizations dropped by 15% and stroke hospitalizations dropped by 16% since smoking has been banned in work places, bars and restaurants (Szabo, 2012). A group of Belgian researchers conducted a study on single-born babies in Flanders from 2002 to 2011 and came up with the finding that the smoking ban has resulted in 3.13% reduction in the number of preterm births after January 2007 and a further 2.65% reduction after January 2010 (Kelland 2013).
Smoking ban refers to the prohibition of smoking in office buildings and public places like bars and restaurants. The history of smoking ban belongs to an ancient time as early as 1575 when a Roman Catholic Church first prohibited the use of tobacco in any church in Mexico and the Spanish colonies across the Caribbean. In USA, after California imposed smoking ban in bars, restaurants and public places in 1998, a number of other states like New York also implemented similar measures. The primary reason for smoking ban was the concerns over the health hazards involved in second hand smoking, which leads to an array of harmful effects on non-smokers like lung cancer, lung infections, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory problems. Several research results have shown positive effects on the health of people after the ban has been implemented. Undeniably, smoking ban has been a positive measure that not only resulted in the reduction of the number of health related problems caused by second hand smoking, but also provided a moral boost up to those trying to quit smoking.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) #1. (2014). Tobacco-Related Mortality. Retrieved on 19th March 2014 from <http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/tobacco_related_mortality/>
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) #2. (2014). Secondhand Smoke (SHS) Facts. Retrieved on 19th March 2014 from <http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/general_facts/>
Leon, H. (2014). A Brief History of Smoking Bans. SF Gate. Retrieved on 19th March 2014 from <http://blog.sfgate.com/hleon/2012/06/04/a-brief-history-of-smoking-bans/>
Szabo, L. (2012). Smoking bans cut number of heart attacks, strokes. USA Today. Retrieved on 19th March 2014 from <http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/10/29/smoking-bans-heart-attacks-strokes/1664193/>
Kelland, K. (2013). Smoking Bans Linked To Lower Rates Of Preterm Birth: Study. Huffington Post. Retrieved on 19th March 2014 from <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/15/smoking-bans-preterm-birth-rates_n_2690089.html>