Photo: Flickr/ machechyp

Tête-à-Tête: Are the increasing smoking bans really effective?

Cecilia Jastrzembska says YES

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he predominant reason to argue for a smoking ban is that there is simply no upside to smoking.

In every cigarette, there are over 4,000 toxic chemicals, and every year, smoking causes 90 percent of deaths from lung cancer, 80 percent from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and in the UK in 2010, caused a fifth of all deaths from all total causes.

Respiratory infections, atherosclerosis (buildup of bad cholesterol), pneumonia, bronchitis, tooth loss, skin discoloration, macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetes risk and deterioration of appetite, sense of smell, eyesight and taste are just a few of the lovely side effects smoking can have, not to mention sixteen types of cancer.

The crux of the argument is that this is not just affecting the smokers themselves. It is affecting their daughters, their sons, their sisters and brothers, wives and husbands, and by extension of the collective effect, people they have never met who suffer.

Since cotinine (created when the body breaks down nicotine found in tobacco smoke) levels are measurable, 2,500,000 non-smokers have been confirmed to have died from health problems caused by exposure to second-hand smoke. Smoking is essentially murderous, and that’s millions of people whose executioners were never brought to trial.

Babies born to mothers who smoke are in fact at greater risk of sudden infant death syndrome, birth defects and asthma attacks.

Children do not have the autonomy to stop parents from smoking around them. I grew up with a father who smokes, and have early signs of acute bronchitis. The smell clings to your clothes, and according to statistics, my health is likely now about 30 percent lower than it should be. But in my case, it’s having to see him kill himself that is the real suffering; he already has heart disease.

In the BBC’s most recent poll, 78 percent still support the ban, with the most frequent response being ‘why wasn’t this passed sooner?’ The ban does something to bring the psychological accountability home, and not only tell smokers that harming others will not be tolerated, but has improved their health, triggering thousands to quit across the UK.

Five years on, studies have found that air quality and respiratory health has greatly improved, with children exposure levels decreased by 70 percent and reductions in people being admitted for smoke related problems have been noted everywhere.

Ellie Campbell says NO

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]moking: it’s quite a contentious issue. It smells bad but relieves stress. It’s costly, yet social. And of course it’s bad for your health and governments around the world are trying to quell the numbers of smokers.

Our country is no different – having just added to the numerous bans that surround smoking. Small shops are now banned from displaying cigarette packs and, from next year, packs will have to be standardised with the EU also working on a ban of menthol cigarettes as well as packs of tens.

But will this change the amount of smokers? It’s true that two thirds of smokers start before the age of 18, but with 18 being the legal age for purchasing tobacco, clearly this is not a retail problem but perhaps the societal image of smoking that is held by teenagers.

No one starts smoking because of appealing packaging, if you’re going to smoke it doesn’t matter if packs are on display or not, it is not ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for everyone. And anyway, by the time you see the packaging, they’ve already been paid for.

The only way packaging would make a difference is if we adopted Australia’s branding with graphic health warnings and cigarette packs were back on display – acting as a visual deterrent.

The EU ban on packets of 10 cigarettes (which are popular with young people) could work for those who don’t smoke a great deal. However, those who are addicted to nicotine, will simply be forced into buying 20 packs which could increase how much they smoke per day or influence a ‘well I’ve bought them, might as well smoke them’ mentality.

Like with many things, increased education and awareness may be the way forward, rather than increasing bans that do not really provide good enough results. Surely if the government really wanted to quash the amount of smokers in the UK, there would be increased bans on where you’re allowed to smoke, prices would increase – which is perhaps one factor that would truly deter young people – and buying tobacco would be a lot less accessible and not in the majority of shops you walk past.

Of course, it’s questionable how much the government can restrict such a common, legal substance that rakes in a lot of money. The effect of increasing the ban to small shops could greatly affect the turnover of the business.
It is questionable whether the negative impact on small businesses is worth the small amount of people who will be positively affected by the ban.



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