Secondhand Smoke And Its Effects Essay, Research Paper
Secondhand smoke and laws about smoking in public places
“What the smoker does to himself may be his business, but what the smoker does
to the non-smoker is quite a different matter This we see as the most dangerous development to the viability of the tobacco industry that has yet occurred The strategic and long run antidote to the passive smoking issue is, as we see it, developing and widely
publicizing clear-cut, credible, medical evidence that passive smoking is not harmful to
the non-smokers’ health” (Americans for Nonsmokers Rights, 1). This statement clearly
reflects the point of view of millions of Americans on the issue of public smoking and the
health effects of secondhand smoke. Whether or not a smoker agrees with it is fully
his/her choice, but the fact still remains that there are millions upon millions of people
who do not want to be subject to these harmful effects.
Secondhand smoke is a dangerous substance and known carcinogen. It goes by
many names including passive smoke and environmental tobacco smoke. It is caused by
the burning tobacco at the end of a burning cigarette, cigar or pipe. Although smokers
experience the worst of the tobacco effects, many nonsmokers who are near smokers are
also at a great risk for cancer and other diseases of the lung and respiratory system. The
United States EPA report states that secondhand smoke is a cause of over 3,000 deaths a
year (2). It is also responsible for between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract
infections each year in many young children under 18 months of age.
Even tobacco companies are feeling the brunt of the negative Phillip Morris USA
recently sent out a letter to a smoker who inquired into the inconvenience smoking laws
place on the smoker. Matt Paluszek, regional director for Phillip Morris, invites all
smokers to entertain the idea of asking bars and other local establishments to apply for
special licenses permitting smoking in bars and hotels. Another feasible option is
outdoor patios at these establishments (Paluszek, 1). They want both the smoker’s and
the nonsmoker’s to be happy, and it is safe to assume that most nonsmoker’s do not want
to ruin the lives of others by exposing them to unneeded secondhand smoke.
The classification by the Environmental Protection Agency of tobacco as a
Group-A carcinogen opened tobacco companies to millions of potential lawsuits filed by
nonsmokers. This potential plethora of lawsuits, and the money to be paid to the
plaintiffs would cause a huge decline in the success of the tobacco companies, or so we
think. The tobacco industry has experienced a decline in recent years, and awareness of
the harmful effects of environmental tobacco smoke have increased in recent years.
According to a 1997 Gallup poll, 55% of Americans feel secondhand smoke is very
harmful, compared to just 36% in 1994.
The publicity being made on the debate over public smoking in laws in many
communities is being aided by the effort of the tobacco companies to fight these clean air
laws. They use “preemption” (secondhand smoke and community laws, 3). ” A state
legislator sympathetic to the tobacco folks introduces a weak statewide smoking law
which also prevents localities from adopting anything stronger. Or a good smoking bill
can be hijacked, amended and weakened by the bad guys, sometimes at the last minute”
(4). The point being made by the anti-smoking activists is that it ” helps educate your
community to the health hazards of secondhand smoke .And since many smokers
sincerely want to quit, smoking restrictions can provide that additional incentive to kick
the addiction” (4).
“People often ask, ‘Why can’t the state or Federal Government deal with this
problem?’” (4). Contrary to popular belief, ” progress is being made on all levels of
government. But the tobacco industry is extremely active in fighting clean air laws.
Their hired lobbyists and massive campaign contributions are very effective in Congress
and state legislatures” (4). Local officials however, are much more in touch with the
community and the needs of the people within that community, leading to a better
response to what the community wants. This reinforces the fact made about the efforts
made by tobacco companies to stop these anti-smoking bills, and further increase their
influence on the smokers of today.
In conclusion, there are still going to be people who are going to smoke, and the
tobacco companies are still going to fight the anti-smoking bills to the death. Hopefully
smokers will gain all the knowledge they can on the harmful effects of environmental
tobacco smoke, and how it effects everyone in the community, and therefore maybe even
be in favor of these laws.
Paluszek, Matt. Phillip Morris USA Priority Letter to the residents of Maine. September
“Protecting Nonsmokers From Secondhand Smoke.” 15 October, 1999. [http://www.no-
smoke.org/ets.html] (25 October, 1999).
“Recipe for a Smokefree Society.” 15 October, 1999. [http://www.no-
smoke.org/recipe.html] (25 October, 1999).
“Secondhand Smoke.” July 1993. [http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/etsbro.html] (12
“Secondhand Smoke and Community Laws.” 26 March, 1998
[http://www.toolworks.com/bilofsky/smoking.htm] (12 October, 1999).
“The health effects of passive smoking.” [http://ww.peg.apc.org/ vshp/fandi/c04.htm]
(12 October, 1999).