Sometimes the human race is pretty stupid. I’m sure we can all agree with that statement even if you may not agree with what I’m about to write. I’m not referring to smokers with that statement. Instead, I’m referring to the fact that smoking in public places, such as the street, is still allowed.
Smoking has been around for a long time and kept on increasing in popularity until the 1960s when scientific research discovered that smoking cigarettes are actually pretty bad for humans. Although this discovery was made dozens of years ago, it took a long while for the government to take active measures against smoking for our health and safety. In more recent years, smoking has been banned in nearly all enclosed public spaces such as bars, restaurants and workplaces in several European countries. Since March of this year, smoking is also forbidden in queues in the top 20 amusement parks in the Netherlands. Other measures that several countries have taken is increasing the taxes on cigarettes every year and placing disturbing pictures on cigarette packs to scare people off. I can imagine that measures like this can be frustrating to people that like to smoke, however, I find it even more frustrating that people are still allowed to smoke in any public areas.
Smoking cigarettes are harmful to your health. One in two smokers will die from a smoking-related disease and I’m sure we’re all aware that smoking increases the risk of lung cancer and many other sometimes deadly diseases. Even if you don’t catch any diseases, smoking will still decrease the functioning of your lungs. Having said that, I think it’s everyone’s own choice whether to smoke or not. However, according to some studies, inhaling second-hand smoke, the smoke coming from someone else’s cigarette can be as damaging to my lungs as if I would smoke myself.
I don’t want to damage my lungs or inhale any smoke so I choose not to smoke but when I’m walking on a street where someone else smokes this choice is taken from me. Sure, I can walk away so I don’t inhale the smoke, but why should I? I am not the one creating a health hazard, the difficulty to breathe or the annoyance for someone else by smoking in a public place. All I’m doing is walking past or standing there. I shouldn’t bother anyone by doing that; the person that is smoking in a public place, however, can affect someone in a way that can be bad for their health or disturb their peace.
Don’t be a pain, just walk away, is what you might be thinking. Well, what if I’m waiting at a bus stop, then I can’t. Or what if I’m on my way to university and someone’s walking in front of me- I can’t just stop walking, wait 5 minutes and be late for class, (I mean I can but I don’t want to and I shouldn’t have to). Or, even more frustrating, what if I’m playing a football match and someone is smoking on the sideline. Why would you smoke in an area where people literally need to use their lungs to full capacity? Honestly, you shouldn’t be smoking next to a pitch unless you’ve checked the direction of the wind and ensure that the cigarette doesn’t leave a trail of smoke heading towards the pitch or any of the players or anyone that might not want to inhale smoke.
To be fair though, I don’t think smokers are generally aware that they might bother other people; they are probably just enjoying their cigarette. Why would they be aware as the government says it’s okay to smoke outside in public.
The government knows that cigarette smoke is bad for our health. In fact, they claim it is their reason for increasing cigarette prices each year, and yet somehow everyone is still allowed to smoke in public where it affects people other than them. If the government really cared about the health and safety in regards to smoking they wouldn’t increase the prices. It’s this thing they do to create the illusion that something is done about smoking while it simultaneously earns them more money. The government isn’t taking any actual measures against smoking and they are simultaneously punishing both the smoker and the non-smoker.
I don’t think people necessarily need to be forbidden from smoking. Instead, why can’t the government create more spaces for smokers? (and I don’t mean open spaces right next to ‘free from smoking’ spaces.) I do think we need to continue to educate but at the end of a day, someone that wants to smoke will smoke anyway. Therefore, something needs to be in place that satisfies the smoker and the non-smoker. Clearly, it doesn’t work to say a bus stop is a non-smoking area because the smoker has no other place to smoke and will disregard this rule completely (which by the way, seriously, do you really have to??)
This may sound dramatic but my life and probably those of others would be improved if I didn’t have to worry about people smoking around me every time I leave the house.