Americans waste billions of dollars each year on tobacco products. Other drugs that are harmful, such as crack or marijuana, are illegal in the United States. If certain harmful substances are illegal, then cigarettes should not be permitted either. Smoking cigarettes are a proven killer of millions worldwide annually, but is perfectly legal.
Cigarettes have a large affect on society in the area of environmental problems it carries with it. Smoking obviously pollutes the air and it definitely causes a lot of litter. People who smoke usually throw their butts anywhere such as out a car window, in someone’s yard, or even in a stream. Litter from cigarette butts is such a big problem because they take 18 months to 10 years to biodegrade. According to the New Jersey-based American Littoral Society, experts say:
Cigarette butts rank at the very top of litter problems -- not just for their ubiquity, but for their toxicity and non-biodegradable nature…An estimated 1.7 billion pounds of cigarette butts accumulate in lakes, oceans, on beaches and the rest of the planet annually. (Carlozo)
Not only are the cigarette butts ugly to look at, they also adversely affect wildlife. Cigarette filters are made to trap the carcinogenic agents in the tobacco and when they are thrown on the ground, those substances make their way into aquatic ecosystems which could be a threat to the quality of water. Also, there have been cigarette butts found in the stomachs of fish and birds because they think that they are food (Register). Another way this could affect the environment is that cigarette butts can cause fires. All cigarette butts thrown onto dry land, such as leaves, are a potential fire. In fact, as many as 1,200 grass and bushfires each year are attributed to cigarettes (Lai).
There are also economic problems that come with smoking in public. In this country, we spend enormous amounts of money on healthcare to treat things that are preventable. In 2010, U.S. medical care expenditures attributable to smoking were estimated to be ninety-six billion dollars (Guilfoyle). This is a lot of money to be spent on something that could be avoided. Something needs to be done because these numbers are showing no signs of going down. In addition to economic problems to society as a whole, smoking can cause economic burden on families. Cigarettes are expensive and in some families they are one of the top priorities. Many times people are more worried about buying cigarettes than they are about buying food. The majority of smokers live below the poverty line so they do not need the added expense of buying cigarettes, which are not cheap by any means. By not allowing smoking in public, people would be forced to cut down on their smoking and, in turn, would be saving money.
Opposing arguers say that a ban is often too extreme and that alternative compromises are just as easily implemented. A smoking ban in restaurants, for example, is unnecessary with the introduction of smoking and non-smoking areas. It is suggested that as long as there are certain levels of ventilation, extraction and air movement there is no justification for a total ban as second hand smoke will be reduced significantly. Another popular argument is that a ban on smoking in bars, clubs, cafes etc. could be damaging to businesses, significantly reducing their trade as some consider a beer or coffee and a cigarette go ‘hand in hand’. This did not work out as the United States passed a law that by the end of 2007, any establishment that serves food is not permitted to allow smoking. With regards to smoking in the workplace, large numbers of people claim a cigarette can help them relax or concentrate in what is an increasingly stress-filled society. It is therefore argued that banning smoking in public places could damage staff morale, ultimately leading to poor productivity in the workplace. Cigarette breaks waste company time and money. It takes longer for a