Banning public smoking betters the health of the people



James Knight, 47, holds a plastic bag of items while smoking a cigarette outside the St. Louis Gateway Transportation Center on February 20, 2015, in St. Louis. Knight was released from Vienna Correctional Center earlier in the morning. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Lisette Harris, Special Contributor

Smoking in public places should be illegal in all 50 states of the United States. It causes health problems and affects not only the smoker but also non smokers around them with secondhand smoke.

According to the Central for Disease Control and Prevention, 17.8% (an estimated 42.1 million) American adults smoke. This has declined from 20.9% in 2005, but there is still an extremely significant amount of Americans who smoke.

There are many serious problems with public smoking. More than 16 million Americans live with a smoke-related disease. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S. That is more than 480,000 (or 1 out of every 5) deaths every year. By banning smoking, the number of people who smoke will diminish and fewer will be exposed to it.

Making smoking in public illegal could also reduce litter in communities. Cigarette butts are nearly everywhere. If all smokers would dispose of their waste correctly, it would not be a problem, but not all of them do. Also, there is always an extremely nasty and unpleasant odor of cigarette smoke in places where people can smoke. This exposes smoking to children at a young age, which makes them grow up thinking it is normal and fine to smoke cigarettes.

One of the many arguments about smoking in public is that people can do what they want with their body, and it is only hurting the smoker. However, that is not true.

Since 1964, approximately 2.5 million nonsmokers have died from health problems caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. In adults who have never smoked, secondhand smoke causes heart disease, lung cancer, and strokes. It harms both children and adults.

Smoking is a health conflict that has been going on for decades, and banning smoking in public places could be one of the many steps to help stop smoking in its entirety.