Loosely speaking, "smoking bans" mean it is illegal in that country to smoke tobacco in workplaces and other public places, e.g., in hospitals or hotels, to prevent the health problems that can arise as a result of accidentally inhaling other people's cigarette smoke. However, of the countries that have smoking bans, there is wide variation in what public places are actually included. For example, smoking is banned in all restaurants in Berlin, but in Austria large establishments are allowed to have separate rooms for smokers1. In Japan, only some companies (like McDonald's) ban smoking in their buildings2, whereas in China a ban introduced in 2011 means smoking is illegal in all enclosed public spaces3.
As well as these differences between countries that do have smoking bans, there are some countries where there are not yet any restrictions on smoking in public places. These countries include Costa Rica4 and Jamaica5, where bans are still only in consideration.
Because of this variation across the globe, it is important to discuss the reasons for and against having smoking banned in public places, and what kinds of places should be included. However, for simplicity's sake, this debate will discuss whether smoking should be banned in all enclosed public places.
1 Steves, Rick, 'A wunderbar welcome in Austria and Germany', CNN Travel, 5 March 2009, http://articles.cnn.com/2009-03-05/travel/austria.germany.travel_1_jewish-history-museum-new-town-hall-tours/2?_s=PM:TRAVEL
2 Koh, Yoree, 'McDonald's to Snuff Out Smoking in Japan', The Wall Street Journal, 10 August 2010, http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2010/08/10/mcdonald%E2%80%99s-to-snuff-out-smoking-in-japan/
3 'New National Smoking Ban', CRIenglish.com, 6 May 2011, http://english.cri.cn/7146/2011/05/06/2702s635887.htm
4 Garlow, Stephanie, 'Smoking rates: Lighting up in Latin America', Global Post, 8 July 2011, http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/que-pasa/smoking-rates-latin-america-who
5 Hunter, Nadisha, 'Gov't Dragging Feet On Smoking Ban - Doctor', The Gleaner, 4 July 2011, http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20110704/news/news7.html
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (a list of rights to which the United Nations has declared that all human beings should be entitled) states that "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family"1. More than 50 studies carried out worldwide have found that people are at an increased risk of lung cancer if they work or live with somebody who smokes2. Given these very serious health risks, it goes against people's human rights to be exposed to second-hand smoke when they have not chosen to breathe it in. To avoid this happening, smoking should be banned in public places, so that non-smokers can be sure that they will not have to breathe in second-hand smoke.
1 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights', General Assembly of the United Nations, http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
2 'Tobacco Smoke and Involuntary Smoking', World Health Organisation, Vol.83, 24 July 2002, http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol83/volume83.pdf
It is very difficult to properly scientifically measure the risk for non-smokers of being exposed to second-hand smoke. To do a proper experiment, scientists would need to find a large group of people who had never been exposed to cigarette smoke before, split them into two groups, and then systematically expose one group to second-hand smoke for a period of time while the other group stayed smoke-free. They would then have to wait and see if more of the group exposed to second-hand smoke developed lung cancer than the other group over their lives. This would be a very expensive and time-consuming experiment. Besides this, it would be very difficult to find people who had never breathed in cigarette smoke and keep half of them that way for their whole lives for comparison. Because of these difficulties in the ideal experiment, scientists often just use questionnaires, asking people to try and remember how many cigarettes the person they live with smokes in a day, for how many hours a day they are exposed to smoking, etc. These kinds of studies are far from precise, since human memory is not very accurate, and so no truly scientific conclusions can be drawn1. Therefore, it is not a fact that non-smokers exposed to the smoke of others are at a serious health risk, so the proposition cannot say that having to sometimes be around other people who smoke goes against non-smokers' human rights.
1 Basham, Patrick, and Roberts, Juliette, 'Are Public Smoking Bans Necessary?' Democracy Institute, Social Risk Series Paper, December 2009, http://www.democracyinstitute.org/Images/PDF/DI_Public_Smoking_Ban_Report.pdf
The health problems that smokers experience cost taxpayers (where healthcare is provided by the government) or the individual (for private healthcare) a lot of money. Decreasing the number of smokers – as a result of a reduction in both “social smokers” (those who smoke when out with friends) and “passive smokers” (those who do not smoke themselves but are exposed to the second-hand smoke of others) – will lead to a decrease in these healthcare costs. This has been reported – for example – in Arizona, where a study found that hospital admissions due to diagnoses for which there is evidence for a cause by smoking have decreased since the statewide smoking ban, and that costs have thus decreased.
 Herman, Patricia M., and Walsh, Michele E. “Hospital Admissions for Acute Myocardial Infarction, Angina, Stroke, and Asthma After Implementation of Arizona’s Comprehensive Statewide Smoking Ban. American Journal of Public Health. 101(3). March 2011.
f the government wants to save money, they should not be trying to reduce smoking levels, since smokers are the source of a great deal of tax income. While the NHS might spend some of their money on smokers (whose health issues may or may not be directly to their smoking habit), the government receives much more money from the taxes paid on cigarettes. For example, smoking was estimated by researchers at Oxford University to cost the NHS (in the UK) £5bn (5 billion pounds) a year, but the tax revenue from cigarette sales is twice as much – about £10bn (10 billion pounds) a year. So governments which implement smoking bans actually lose money.
Not being able to smoke in public will make it more difficult for smokers to keep up with their habit. For example, if they are no longer able to smoke in the pub, smokers would have to go outside – possibly in the rain or other uncomfortable weather – and be away from their non-smoking friends every time they wanted to have a cigarette. So, a smoking ban would encourage smokers to smoke less frequently and maybe even give up. This can be seen in countries already with smoking bans. For example, a study in England found that in the nine months after the smoking ban was introduced, there was a 5.5% fall in the number of smokers in the country, compared to the much lower fall of 1.6 % in the nine months before the ban. This can only be a good thing, since giving up smoking decreases the risk of death, even for those suffering from early stage lung cancer.
 Parsons, A., Daley, A., Begh, R., and Aveyard, P.. “Influence of smoking cessation after diagnosis of early stage lung cancer on prognosis: systematic review of observational studies with meta-analysis.” British Medical Journal. 340. 21 January 2010.
While some studies have shown that numbers of smokers in countries in which a smoking ban has been introduced have fallen, it seems that these results only represent those people who were trying to quit smoking anyway, with the smoking ban acting as an added incentive. Studies in England have shown that while there was a rise in the number of smokers trying to quit soon after the ban in 2007, that rise has fallen again since1. So, while there was an initial fall in the number of smokers, the smoking ban in England is not having a continuing effect on whether more people are giving up the habit.Additionally, it can be argued that since people are continuing to smoke in countries with a smoking ban, but not doing so in public, there must be more smoking going on within the home. If there are any dangers of second-hand smoke, then a smoking ban moves those dangers from responsible adults who can choose whether to go somewhere where smoking is allowed (in public) to children who cannot (in the home), which is immoral.
1 Lies, Elaine, 'Smokers quit after ban, but numbers ebb: study', Reuters, 6 June 2011, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/06/us-cigarettes-idUSTRE7552S620110606
A ban in all public places would be no more difficult to introduce than existing bans preventing smoking in only some public places. As long as people are given plenty of notice of changes, as was done in airports in Saudi Arabia, and the rules are made clear and readily available1 there should be few difficulties in introducing this ban.
This ban would not be so easy to introduce. A ban on smoking in all public places would not be easily accepted by all. For example, there are groups in England seeking to change the existing ban there so that more places are exempt; the Save Our Pubs & Clubs campaign wants to change the smoking ban so that large venues can have a designated smoking area which can be avoided by non-smokers1.
1 'Why we want government to amend the smoking ban', Save Our Pubs & Clubs, http://www.amendthesmokingban.com/our_case/
Given the popularity of smoking, a ban on smoking in all enclosed public places would be difficult to enforce, requiring constant vigilance by many police officers or security cameras. It has been reported that smoking bans are not being enforced in Yakima, Washington 1, Atlantic City2, Berlin 3and other places. In New York City, the major has said that the New York Police Department (NYPD) are too busy to enforce the ban on smoking in their parks and on their beaches, and that the job will be left to citizens4.
1. Guenthner, Hayley, 'Smoking Ban Difficult to Enforce in Yakima', KIMA TV, 1 April 2011, http://www.kimatv.com/news/local/119039579.html
2. Sajor, Stephanie, 'Smoking Ban Not Enforced at Atlantic City Casinos', ThirdAge.com, 25 April 2011, http://www.thirdage.com/news/smoking-ban-not-enforced-at-atlantic-city-casinos_04-25-2011
3. AFP, 'Smoking Ban not Enforced in Parts of Germany', Spiegel Online, 2 July 2008, http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,563424,00.html
4. 'NYC Smoking Ban In Parks Will Not Be Enforced By NYPD: Mayor', Huffington Post, 2 November 2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/11/nyc-smoking-ban_n_822144.html
In some countries, compliance rates have actually been high, proving that it is not a problem with the idea of having a ban but with the authorities themselves in different countries. In Scotland, for example, reports from 3 months after their smoking ban was introduced showed that about 99% of premises were following the law properly1. This shows that the opposition should not use the fact that a smoking ban might be difficult to enforce in some places in the initial stages of the law change as a reason not to introduce such a ban in the first place. Lots of laws are difficult to enforce, but still necessary in order to protect people.
1 'Smoking ban gets seal of public approval', The Scottish Government, 26 June 2006,http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2006/06/26080617
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood"1. So, smokers have the same rights as non-smokers and should not be targeted because of how they choose to live their lives. Article 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay" 1.If some people get their rest and leisure by smoking with friends in a pub, it seems that governments should make it possible, by at least having smoking areas in pubs, restaurants, etc. A ban on smoking in all public places would mean smokers could never enjoy themselves like they want to, at least not legally. There are many groups which feel that the rights of the smoker are being ignored, e.g. "Forest".
1 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, General Assembly of the United Nations, http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
While all humans do have the right to rest and leisure, they should not be allowed to do so at the expense of the health and safety of other human beings. Serial killers enjoy killing people1, but it is against the law to commit murder. Smoking in public places should be banned despite the fact that smokers enjoy doing it, because it endangers the health of others.
1 Blackwelder, Edward, 'Serial Killers: Defining Serial Murder', Criminology Research Project Inc. http://criminologyresearch.org/index.php?page=serial-killers-defining-se...
If smokers are not allowed to smoke in pubs, they will not spend as much time in them, preferring to stay at home where they can smoke with their friends. This will put many pubs out of business. In fact, since the smoking ban was introduced in the UK, many pubs have closed and blamed their loss of business on the smoking ban1. The Save Our Pubs & Clubs campaign estimates that the smoking ban in the UK is responsible for 20 pub closures a week2. This is an unfair consequence for the many pub-owners across the world.
1 'MPs campaign to relax smoking ban in pubs', BBC News, 29 June 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13948624
2 'Why we want government to amend the smoking ban', Save Our Pubs & Clubs, http://www.amendthesmokingban.com/our_case
While pubs and restaurants might lose money from some smokers initially, they will gain money from those who are more likely to eat/drink somewhere if they know they will not have to breathe in second-hand smoke. Even the Save Our Pubs & Clubs campaign admits that pub business is on a decline in the UK anyway, and that the current economic environment in the country is probably partly to blame1. Some pubs have actually seen improved business since the introduction of a smoking ban, like the Village Pub and Grill in Wisconsin, who say that they get more families coming to eat during the day, and have non-smokers staying longer in their bar 2 The lack of smoke indoors also makes pubs a better environment in which to work.
1 'Why we want government to amend the smoking ban', Save Our Pubs & Clubs, http://www.amendthesmokingban.com/our_case
2 Linnane, Rory et al., 'One Year After State Smoking Ban, Village Pub Sees Better Business, Health', ShorewoodPatch, 6 July 2011,http://shorewood.patch.com/articles/one-year-after-state-smoking-ban-vil...
Basham, Patrick, and Roberts, Juliette. "Are Public Smoking Bans Necessary?" Democracy Institute Social Risk Series Paper. December 2009.
"MPs campaign to relax smoking ban in pubs." BBC News. 29 June 2011.
Herman, Patricia M., and Walsh, Michele E. “Hospital Admissions for Acute Myocardial Infarction, Angina, Stroke, and Asthma After Implementation of Arizona’s Comprehensive Statewide Smoking Ban. American Journal of Public Health. 101(3). March 2011.
Parsons, A., Daley, A., Begh, R., and Aveyard, P.. “Influence of smoking cessation after diagnosis of early stage lung cancer on prognosis: systematic review of observational studies with meta-analysis.” British Medical Journal. 340. 21 January 2010.