A Brief History
On June 16, 2010, the nation of Bhutan became the first nation in the world to outlaw tobacco. Growing and otherwise producing tobacco products and the sale of any tobacco product was outlawed. Harsh penalties were put in place, but within a couple years things eased up a bit. The actual use and possession of tobacco was not outlawed, just the production and sale. The government was also mandated to provide anti-tobacco counseling and education.
5. Tax Revenue.
In 2013, the government collected $43.9 billion in tobacco tax revenue, and over half a trillion dollars since 1998. (This includes state and local taxes and settlement money.) If tobacco users are not providing that revenue, the rest of us will have to cough up the bucks! (Or government spending will be cut.
4. 46.6 Million Americans Smoke (CDC, 2012).
And that does not count those using chewing tobacco and snuff. With such a high percentage of Americans (that number is adults) doing something, it would be a major imposition to suddenly stop the activity. How many things do you enjoy that less than 46.6 million Americans partake in?
Thousands of farmers and industrial workers are employed by the tobacco industry. In the US, (as of 2013) 13,570 people worked in the tobacco manufacturing industry at a mean annual wage of $58,330. That is a lot of people with good jobs! The US exports (in 2010) about $1.2 billion worth of tobacco per year. We ban production here, other countries will reap the benefits.
Native Americans use tobacco in religious ceremonies. We would not want to limit the practice of their faith or stigmatize any part of it.
1. Pursuit of Happiness.
The founding of this country as expressed in the Declaration of Independence makes it clear that people should be able to pursue happiness that does not infringe on others. Washington and Jefferson grew tobacco crops. Skydiving and snowmobile riding costs lives, should they be banned? Ice cream is not essential to life and it causes health problems, should it be banned? Where does it end?
5. Effects on Appearance.
Tobacco use (mostly smoking) causes premature aging and wrinkling of skin on the hands and face. Just look at a smoker and compare to a non-smoker of the same age. Fingers get yellowed, teeth get discolored and besides stinking, their clothes and furniture they use usually have burn marks in them. Smoking gives you horrible breath making you kissable only to other smokers, and who wants to kiss someone that is chewing tobacco? You will probably never realize you missed out on that foxy chick or cute guy because you smoke.
4. Second Hand Smoke.
In this category we include the tremendous cost to non-smokers to foot the bill for the medical care and absenteeism of smokers with their health problems. The cost of insurance each of us pays reflects the billions in insurance claims because of wildfires and home fires, not to mention motor vehicle accidents. Then there are the innocent people injured or killed in those fires and accidents. Smoking by pregnant females is harmful to the baby, and inhaling second hand smoke has now been shown to damage health as well as disgust non-smokers.
Smokers are 7 times more likely to have a house fire than non-smokers. About 1000 Americans die each year from smoking related home fires. The NFPA says smoking causes 90,000 fires per year in the US, and that 90% of wildfires in the US are caused by smoking.
2. Motor Vehicle Accidents.
Studies have indicated smokers are distracted an average of 12 seconds while fumbling around with a cigarette compared to only 10 seconds for the distraction caused by cell phone use! Cigarettes while driving are more dangerous than cell phones. For real. If you drop a cell phone on your lap, you do not panic. Drop a lit cigarette on your lap, and it becomes quite an important task to find that smoke fast! (A lit cigarette is burning at 1100 degrees F.) Answers.com claims 76% of car accidents are caused by smoking. British researchers say 50% of smokers have caused or almost caused an accident because of smoking (Daily Record, October 15, 2007).
Almost half a million Americans per year die prematurely because of tobacco use (many others die due to tobacco use around the world). Almost everyone knows a friend or relative that died early because of the ill effects of tobacco. Lung cancer, emphysema, high blood pressure (leading to diabetes, heart attack and stroke) as well as cancers of the mouth and throat. These are bad things!
Question for students (and subscribers): Should the United States ban tobacco? Should tobacco use be in your own home or property only? How about banning smoking while driving? Let us know what you think about these topics in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Hudson, Jr., David L. Smoking Bans (Point/Counterpoint). Chelsea House Pub, 2008.