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Indoor Smoking, Essay Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1320

Essay

Introduction

It is interesting that, as smoking has become largely turned away from by societies once promoting it, the trajectory of disfavor continues.  More exactly, it is increasingly common for smoking to be banned in public and outdoor spaces, and this is the concern of two articles.  Marie Ellis’s “Total smoking bans effectively help smokers quit, study shows” and “Banning smoking in public places will not do much harm,” by George Arnett and Glen Moutrie, each presents thinking and evidence as to the benefits of these bans.  The Ellis piece is based in the U.S., and Arnett and Moutrie, also writing in a more speculative way, center on such bans as effective in London parks.  Nonetheless, the two articles examined in the following combine to support that increased prohibitions of smoking in public arenas offers real and potential advantages to smokers and non-smokers alike.

Summaries

The Marie Ellis article begins by condensing the findings of a recent study, in affirming that total smoking bans, in the home and in public spaces, help smokers to cut back or quit.  The study in question was conducted by Dr. Wael K. Al-Delaimy of the University of California-San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine, and 1,718 smokers in California were the participants.  Ellis cites that many California cities are enacting laws prohibiting smoking within certain distances of entrances to public buildings, as well as in outdoor dining areas open to the public.

In between discussing the study and California policy in general, the author inserts statistics going to the subject, as in:“Over 440,000 people in the US die each year from tobacco-related diseases” (Ellis).  The thrust of the article, however, is on the positive effects of the bans on the smokers so researched.  Regarding public arenas, smokers are more inclined to smoke less when cities engage in broad bans.  There is also an emphasis on how total bans are more likely to result in reduced smoking or quitting than when smoking is permitted within areas of a home.  In conclusion, Ellis quotes Dr. Al-Delaimy optimistic view of his work: “Smoking bans that are mainly for the protection of nonsmokers…actually encourage quitting behaviors among smokers in California” (Ellis).

The Arnett and Moutrie article, as noted, is not based on a study, but rather presents the speculative plans in place to limit smoking in London parks.  Inspired by the ban on park smoking in New York City, initiated by Mayor Bloomberg in 2011, London Mayor Boris Johnson is considering a similar prohibition in his city.  The bulk of the article is then a discussion of  three reasons supporting such bans.  To begin with, litter will be greatly lessened, as it is reported that, in California, 40 percent of waste retrieved prior to the bans on smoking at beaches was in the form of cigarette butts.  Then, it is held that lessened exposure to people smoking will reduce young people’s turning to cigarettes; as smoking becomes less visible, children will not be encouraged to try it.  This is supported by evidence that, in the UK, fewer teens think smoking is acceptable since 1998, when smoking was outlawed in public buildings (Arnett, Moutrie).  The last reason proposed by the authors is that the effects of “third-hand smoke, “ as in residues and particulate matter, will be greatly reduced when smoking is prohibited in the parks.  There is as well discussion as to the nature of these effects as meaningful, but the reason is still promoted as strong because, “potential health effects of these exposures merit consideration and need to be further studied” (Arnett, Moutrie).

Analyses

The Ellis article effectively makes its point, but it is important to note that this point is based only on a single study, rather than a body of research.  Moreover, the methodology used in the study is not indicated; that is, if the smokers involved were self-reporting, it is possible than many offered their own expectations regarding quitting smoking, rather than the realities. Dr. Al-Delaimy’s claim that total bans of smoking in homes and other spaces encourage quitting is certainly rational, but the statement would be more valid if there were some specific evidence from his study presented, rather than the generalized conclusions offered.  In short, and while professionally written, the Ellis article suffers from what seems to be an agenda.  It appears to promote the idea guiding the study and the good of reduced smoking in general, instead of reporting on fact.

As it is more speculative, the Arnett and Moutrie article more overtly expresses an agenda.  In plain terms, it exists to encourage Mayor Johnson to act on the California and UK evidence, and outlaw smoking in London parks.  It is difficult to argue with the likelihood that such bans will lessen park trash to be cleaned.  Similarly, it is reasonable to assume that, as children are less exposed to seeing smokers, they will be less inclined to try smoking.  On the other hand, the reasoning based on third-hand smoke is highly questionable.  Even as the World Health Organization would perceive such residues as significant, the article is unconvincing by virtue of the noted reality that, in outdoor spaces, smoke dissipates.  The article’s conclusion, moreover, is strangely unprofessional and dogmatic.  After asserting that third-hand smoke would be harmful if sections of parks permitted smoking and consequently enabled residue build-ups, the authors write: “Don’t do that” (Arnett, Moutrie).  It is a weak and damaging end to an article which, in adhering to logic, would have impact.

Synthesis

The primary difference between the articles goes to academic integrity and presentation of fact.  While both cite documented evidence, the Ellis piece, if too reliant on one study and neglecting important detail, more stands on solid ground.  Arnett and Moutrie, conversely, offer more in the way of conjecture.  Moreover, tone varies as well, and because of the way evidence is presented.  The Ellis article never weakens it its emphasis on the good of smoking bans, whereas the title alone of the Arnett/Moutrie piece reflects ambiguity.  Neither article generates real confidence in the reader, but Ellis at least maintains a certain position and partially supports it.  Arnett and Moutrie suffer more from an unaccountably weak third reason, and rationales for that reason.

Opinion

Personally, I question any bans on smoking in outdoor spaces, and not because I support smoking.  Rather, it is a matter of rights and perspective.  In my view, the nature of an outdoor space is such that I cannot accept that smokers subject others to any real harm, and there is then no reason to deny these people that liberty.  Beyond this, however, I must question such bans in environments where all are exposed to other, legal forms of toxic exposure.  The question arises: is the smoker in the park more of a danger than the buses and cars passing by the individual, a fouling the air?  In all bans on outdoor smoking, I very much get the impression that morality, rather than fair play or scientific fact, is the motivation.

Topic

I believe I will continue on with this subject, and because its specific nature offers many insights into how societies and individuals interact in terms of rights and perceived threats.  This is a very modern case of society radically changing its thinking about a substance once embraced, and the ongoing debates and practices are extremely interesting to me.  As to my using the articles discussed here, I am ambivalent.  I would likely use the Ellis piece but only in a qualified way, as it offers no real data.  The Arnett/Moutrie article, on the other hand, is valuable only in terms of reinforcing how the smoking ban mentality is so powerful today.  This in itself, however, may be useful, in terms of the referencing to third-hand smoke.

Works Cited

Arnett, George, & Moutrie, Glen. “Banning smoking in public places will not do much harm.” 15 Oct. 2014. Web. 2 Mar. 2015.<http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/oct/15/banning-smoking-public-places-not-do-much-harm>

Ellis, Marie. “Total smoking bans effectively help smokers quit, study shows.” 19 Dec. 2013. Web. 2 Mar. 2015. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270463.php>

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