California should ban outdoor smoking

Arguing for the government: Toppacio Rodriguez
California should ban smoking in outdoor areas because of the health issues it causes towards other people.
Before 2007, smoke-free laws did not protect more than 94 percent of the worlds’ population of nonsmokers, but then in 2008, the number went to 74 percent, as stated in the World Health Organization (WHO) website.

The WHO states that out of the 100 most populated cities, only 22 are smoke free, California should increase that number.
There are smoking bans in certain areas, like hospitals, because of the health issues second-hand smoke can cause patients.

Patients in hospitals include a variety of people from flu patients to pregnant women, and from newborns to senior citizens.
Hospitals know the effects of second-hand smoke, and ban smoking because people exposed to smoke will suffer.

The WHO acknowledges that even though there are areas meant for smoking, called smoking zones, smoke can travel to a nonsmoking area and affect the surroundings.

Cigarettes have more than 4,000 chemicals and about 250 are known to cause health issues and an estimate of about 50 lead to some sort of cancer according to the WHO and the National Cancer Institute (NIC).

Second-hand smoke affects everyone, which can lead to a variety of health issues.

The WHO states adults can suffer effects like cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. The NCI states infants may die from  sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and pregnant women could deliver babies with a low weight.

According to, second-hand smoke is an “asthma trigger,” and when exposed to smoke, asthmatics can suffer more “frequent and severe asthma symptoms.”

The WHO states that about 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma and people who suffer from asthma should avoid asthma triggers.

I suffer from chronic asthma and allergies so I know how difficult it is to be around people who smoke.

I have noticed that whenever I am walking from one class to another, or going anywhere for that matter, my throat gets irritated when I pass people who smoke.

I begin to feel light headed and short of breath whenever my friends smoke around me.

I have made the decision of being a nonsmoker because I want to take care of my health and be here to support my family as I am now.

People who smoke counter balance my decision by smoking and making me a victim of second-hand smoke.
“Exposure to SHS (second-hand smoke) remains a serious public health concern, and one that is completely preventable,” states the NCI’s website.

The WHO notes that one out of 10 tobacco related deaths are from second-hand smoke and of those victims, 31 percent are children.

The only way to prevent this is by, “creating 100 percent smoke-free environments,” according to the NCI.
We need to make a difference in California and save our health.

Arguing for the opposition: Eric Harbin
It needs to be said: smoking should not be banned from public areas.

Recently, cities such as Santa Barbara and New York have considered banning smoking from public places due to the risks of second-hand smoke.

Organizations, such as, have compiled evidence to illustrate the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.
The organization states that second-hand smoke is responsible for increased cases of asthma in children.

According to the website, 46,000 deaths are due to heart conditions in people that live with smokers, and 3,900 deaths due to lung cancer in non-smokers.

However, these health complications may be falsely attributed to second-hand smoke. While the number of asthma cases in children has increased, the overall number of smokers has decreased.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of smokers in the U.S. decreased 15 percent from 1997 to 2004, and this number is continually on the decline.

How is it possible to blame second-hand smoke for an increase in the number of children with asthma when there has been a decline in smoking?

Other factors, such as diet and environmental conditions unrelated to smoking, also have an impact upon non-smoker’s health.
Fast food has become a daily trend in American lifestyles, and obesity rates have been on the rise.

It’s known that obesity can lead to heart conditions, which in turn can result in death. When discussing the health problems of people who live with smokers, it is important to remember that correlation does not equal causation. It’s equally likely that poor diet and a lack of exercise, rather than second-hand smoke, is the culprit of these health problems.

One must also ask themselves why smoking is under attack from the government while other, more dangerous, activities are not.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were approximately 1.6 million auto-related injuries in 2008. That is a staggering amount of injuries that occur due to driving each year.

Not only does driving pose a danger for the driver, but innocent bystanders can be injured or killed due to an automobile accident.
While smoking in public is being banned due to limited adverse effects caused by second-hand smoke, activities that are far more dangerous to the public are free to endanger millions of citizens on a daily basis uninhibited.

Furthermore, it is not the governments place to decide what Americans should be able to do with their own bodies. Instead of government regulations on smoking, why not let the marketplace decide whether smoking in public should be allowed?

If the public is against smoking in places such as restaurants and malls, they will stop frequenting those establishments, thus hurting the profits of the business owners. If businesses begin to lose money due to smoking, they will no longer permit smoking on their property.

Although it is proven that smoking has an adverse effect on the smoker’s health, second-hand smoke is an entirely different issue, and the government shouldn’t be able to impose its will upon the American citizens.

Smoking is a freedom that is enjoyed by Americans, and should be allowed to be done in public places.

Who won the debate?

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  • c.k.922

    There are some false analogies and hasty conclusion are committed on comment section and argument.
    First, comparing with auto-accident and smoking is not right comparison, I think. In both case, innocence people are killed by accident and secondhand smoke. However, those issues are fundamentally different. Same things can be said on the gun issue.
    Second, opponents conclude that asthma and secondhand smoke has no relation because the number of asthma is increasing although the number of smoker is decreasing. It is hasty conclusion. As Kenneth noticed, he forgot to mention the other possibilities of casing asthma. He should know that secondhand smoke is not the only cause of asthma.
    In my opinion, California should not ban outdoor smoking. Actually, I used to be a smoker (but now, I am not). Smoking was my habit and it made me relax. Then, I think State should not ban outdoor smoke that is smoker’s fun. Rather, State need to mentioned about manner of smoker. When I was a smoker, I really hate the smokers who smoke the place where is not the smoking area or threw away the cigarette everywhere. Not every smoker is like that. There is no problem if smoker care about nonsmoker and do not smoke smoke-free area. In my opinion, State should prohibit the bad habit of smoker, such as throwing away the cigarette, but should not ban the outdoor smoking itself.

  • Rob

    There’s more pressing problems going on in the world other than smoking. Although a decent cause, the growing class divide and it’s repercussions should have more energy put into it rather than harassing people.

  • David (the small-L libertarian)

    A 39-year study (1960-1998) using data from the American Cancer Society shows that the claims that the dangers of second-hand smoke are greatly exaggerated. The study was published in the British Journal of Medicine in 2003 and can be found here:

    Here is its conclusion:

    “The results of the California CPS I cohort do not support a causal relation between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. Given the limitations of the underlying data in this and the other studies of environmental tobacco smoke and the small size of the risk, it seems premature to conclude that environmental tobacco smoke causes death from coronary heart disease and lung cancer.”

    And please don’t infringe on my rights to smoke out in the open air and I won’t blow it in your face. And let a restaurant or bar owner decide whether or not to allow smoking in his establishment and you can decide whether or not you want to dine or work there.

    • Kenneth Sandale


      It was a tobacco industry study, not an American Cancer Society study. The American Cancer Society said it was a fraud.

      • David (the small-L libertarian)

        Believe what you will, Kenneth. If you think that your health will be harmed by the occasional smoke you encounter from a neighbor or passerby I feel sorry for you. I suspect that you’ve done more damage to yourself from your daily exposure to the Sun than you’ll ever get from second-hand smoke. I find cigarette smoke unpleasant too but I worry not that it’s gonna kill me.

        You’d better stay away from that outdoor grill too ’cause that’ll almost certainly kill you. In fact, I’d suggest that you start an activist group making outdoor cooking illegal. You’ve already succeeded in outlawing fireplaces in new homes in many areas of southern California so why not take the next step?

        For those of you who buy the second-hand-smoke hype I’m certain that I’ll not convince you in the few words I’m permitted here; but you should at least educate yourself so that you’re aware that the American Cancer Society and your federal goverment do not own the final word on this subject. Take a look-see: ;

        I also appeal to common sense.

  • Kenneth Sandale


    And how is it that you “determined” I made it up? You assumed I did so without knowing. Ironically you just made up that I made it up.

    If you were reading the discussion carefully you would see that the statistic was citing in Eric Harbin’s column, who was arguing the opposite side I was arguing. And Harbin cited the American Cancer Society website. So you weren’t even following the debate, and just falsely accused me of maing something up.

    53,000 is the most standard number ffor the number of non-smokers killed each year from secondhand smoke, and it originally came from scientific panels convened by the EPA in the early 1990s. The number was used in a letter to Congress from all the living Surgeons General in 1994. That number is actually an undercount because they used to simplified a method regarding non-linearity.

    Here is the American Heart Association’s estimate of the number of non-smokers killed each year in the U.S. from secondhand smoke:

  • David Bailey

    Sandale, Your argument is really weak. “Medical experts say…. 50,000 deaths from second hand smoke.” When you start making up statistics, you’ve lost all credibility.

  • Kenneth Sandale

    Aaron Helmbrecht writes: <>

    From your reasoning, it should be OK to randomly fire a gun outdooors, because we do not know whether or not someone will get hurt, and the burden of proof supposedly requires we know for certain that one of the bullets will hurt someone. It seems to me that smokers should not be allowed to force toxic chemicals into people’s bodies unless they can show that these harmful chemical are not going to do harm.

    Furthermore, it actually is known that very low levels of secondhand smoke exposure are harmful. The main effect of secondhand smoke is to decrease the levels of a substance called prostacyclin. Prostacyclin prevents spasms in the coronary arteries and prevents abnormal clotting. Thus lowered levels of it increase the risk of heart attacks. Low levels of secondhand smoke exposure produce almost as strong an effect in lowering prostacyclin levels as do high levels of exposures–it is easy to do the experiment in the lab. This is consistent BTW with the epidemiological fact that smokers who smoke small numbers of cigarettes per day have heart attack rates closer to heavier smokers than one would expect by linear extrapolation. You can read about the prostacyclin effects in the section titled “Discussion” in the Harvard Medical School study linked below:

    • Kenneth Sandale

      Aaron writes: <>

      Well, obviously they are not the same thing. In an analogy one uses analogous things, not identical things. The idea is to show you the implications of the principle you were working under.


      There are some sort of “rules for debate”? OK, suppose that there was a 49 percent chance that a substance that was being considered to be added to drinking water would kill lots of people. From your “rules of debate” you would allow it because there was some “burden of proof” requirement. I think most people would ban the use of the water additive.

      I suppose you will just say “Water additives are not cigarettes”, just like you told me “Guns are not cigarettes”.

  • Kenneth Sandale

    Harbin argues that “correlation does not imply causation”, a common catch-phrase for people without scientific aptitude. In reality not only are cancer and heart disease rates strongly correlated with secondhand smoke exposure, but much of the biochemical pathways are known. He says that poor diet and exercise are “equally” likely to be the reason why people exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to get cancer and heart disease. In reality, the studies take these things into consideration. Indeed, it is obvious that things called “confounding variables” need to be accounted for in medical studies, and everyone in the field knows that. Clearly Harbin has not read the actual medical studies on secondhand smoke, nor any epidemiological studies–yet he has an opinion. It is puzzling why someone not familiar with the topic would actually write a newspaper column about it.

    Later on Harbin says that firsthand smoke is indeed harmful. But why does he conclude that? Has he not forgotten his catch-phrase that “correlation does not imply causation”? The proof that secondhand smoke is harmful employs the same methodology as the proof that firsthand smoke is harmful–correlation and biochemical pathways. If he were intellectually honest he would insist that smoking is not harmful to smokers.

    He goes on to say that he does not believe smoking causes asthma attacks because there is less secondhand smoke but more asthma. Ironically, this really IS a case where correlation does not imply causation. The solution to the mystery is that secondhand smoke is not the *only* cause of asthma attacks. His argument is akin to saying that modern medical advances do not improve mortality by citing that more people died in New York City on September 11 2001 than on September 10 2001–the argument leaves out the fact that something else was operative on 9/11 than just the state of medicine.

    Harbin also argues that while medical experts say that around 50,000 Americans are killed each year by secondhand smoke, 1.6 million Americans are hurt in automobile accidents, and that therefore there are things more dangerous than secondhand smoke. Note that he is comparing people *hurt* in accidents to people *killed* by secondhand smoke. A fair comparison would be comparing people killed by secondhand smoke to people killed in automobile accidents (or people made sick by secondhand smoke to people hurt in automobile accidents, but then there would be a problem in that we would need to take into account the severity of the illnesses and injuries.) The number for deaths from automobile accidents is 37,000, and many of them are the person at fault dying, which is not comparable to innocent people killed by secondhand smoke. So considerably more innocent victims are killed by secondhand smoke than by car accidents. But even if more were killed by car accidents, how does that justify causing non-smokers to die from secondhand smoke? Would bin Laden arguing that he should not be punished, being that more people died in automobile accidents in 2001 than by terrorist attacks, be a convincing argument to Harbin?

  • fra59e

    All of us sometimes need to spit, pick our noses or urinate. But your personal need does not give you a right to force others to endure the effects of your personal habit.

    Smoking a cigarette is not a “right” under any law. It is just a personal behavior. Let it be done in private.