Public Smoking – Ban it, please

Smoking is like marmite; you either love it or loathe it. Unfortunately, unlike marmite eaters, the amount of smokers in Britain has increased worryingly in the past twenty years. Figures show that in Britain alone, around 15 million people, nearly a quarter of the population, have confessed to trying the infamous tobacco-filled cylinders, and an argument on whether or not smoking in public should be allowed is likely to go on unless the government come up with a sure fire solution.

It is hard to believe nowadays that once upon a time, smoking in public was seen as glamorous. I, myself am not a huge fan of the smoke-inhaling pastime. Yes, I know what smoking does to you, lung cancer and all, but the fact is you cannot escape it. Everywhere you go you can find people smoking the long, thin brown-ended tubes and yet no-one seems to mind. My grandfather was a victim of the dreaded cigarettes; he began smoking during World War 2 and consequently became addicted.

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He died of lung cancer in 1991 and never attempted to give up despite the constant pleadings from his family and myself. He smoked anywhere he could, not knowing that his smoke was endangering the lives of people around him. One of the major causes of lung cancer is not smoking the cigarettes themselves, but by merely breathing in the smoke exhaled by the smokers. Roy Castle, a famous comedian and night club owner was a famous anti-smoker, yet he died of lung cancer. How was this possible for such a man so against the drug?

Every night he was breathing in the smoke from his customers at his night club, filling his lungs with so much tar, it would be hard to believe the man had never had a smoke in his life. Passive smoking they called it. Every year, many other individuals perish due to situations mirroring those of Roy’s, and if smoking in public continues to be allowed, how many more people will suffer the same fate as him? Children are also most at risk from passive smoking, their lungs are smaller and not fully developed, says paediatric respiratory fellow Dr Liz Edwards.

The short and long-term damage to children’s health caused by passive smoking should not be underestimated,” she said. This can only encourage parents to cease smoking in public places, where children are most at danger. Norway is one example of a country that has taken measures to ensure that public places remain smoke-free. The Norwegian government has proposed a total ban on smoking in public places by 2004. Under this ruling, smokers would only be allowed to inhale and exhale the toxic smoke outside and in their homes.

Several states and cities in the USA, Canada and Australia have also followed suit, and my advice to the British government is to imitate the Norwegian system and ban public smoking altogether. Like the currency conversion from Pound to the Euro, this ban may not be accepted in all households, but it would significantly reduce the number of smoke-related fatalities in the long term. If anyone is caught breaching the rule, fine them. It’s simple and effective.

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