In essence, the main thrust of the ban against smoking is connected to the widely spread notion that second hand smoke has detrimental effects on the health of bystanders. It is argued that workers who inhale second hand smoke on a daily basis are placed at risk of developing the same type of detrimental health effects that smokers subject themselves to and as such presents itself as a real health concern in workplace environments (METRO BRIEFS, 2011).
Originally, prohibiting smoking within establishments was under the option of the property owner however as the notion of the detrimental health effects of second hand smoke proliferated this resulted in a smoking ban put into effect by certain towns, cities and most recently the state of New York (METRO BRIEFS, 2011).
What must be understood is that the smoking ban that will be put into effect is a direct result of two rights clashing against each other, namely: the right of people to work/eat etc. in a safe environment and the right of smokers not to be discriminated against as a social group.
It must be noted though that the effects of secondary smoke on bystanders is still inconclusive and the potential economic reversals that may occur as a direct result of the ban are potentially considerable. As such, this paper will explore whether the various reasons behind the smoking ban are justifiable, if the after effects are potentially detrimental and will judge if the ban is a justifiable form of discrimination against a particular social group.
Justifying the Ban on Smoking
An examination of the literature leading up to the New York Ban on smoking reveals that the primary reason behind the ban itself is due to concerns related to the effects of second hand smoke on the general public (Philippidis, 2002). While smokers take it upon themselves to knowingly degenerate their lungs and general physical health other individuals do not take up such a choice.
While there have been no conclusive studies examining the effects of prolonged exposure to second hand smoke, enough studies have shown that smoke from cigarettes contains the same detrimental effects as what a smoker takes into his own body. It is based on studies such as this that the ban on smoking is justified since it is assumed that prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke will result in the same level of exposure as compared to a normal smoker (The Beat, 2007).
Restaurant workers are especially at risk since unlike the average smoker who stops smoking from time to time waiters, bartenders and other service attendants who are within a smoke filled environment on a constant basis due to the regular influx of smoking customers are thus exposed to greater concentrations of second hand smoke (Philippidis, 2002).
The detrimental effects are also stated as not being limited to service attendants alone but extend to the customers of various establishments who are also exposed to high levels of cigarette smoke. It is based on such factors and the potentially detrimental effects they have that the ban on smoking is seen as being a justifiable measure since not all individuals choose to willingly subject their bodies to prolonged deterioration as seen in the case of numerous smokers (The Beat, 2007).
Potential Aftereffects of the Smoking Ban
During the various events leading up to the establishment of the new law against smoking in public areas, numerous concerns had been raised of which the potential economic effects of the ban were among the most prevalent (Sales steady after N.Y. smoking ban, 2006). Banning smoking within restaurants and various establishments were though of as having the effect of alienating a particular consumer segment which would reduce business profits.
It was feared that smokers would merely go to establishments that allowed smoking versus those that didn’t resulting in a considerable loss of income (Sales steady after N.Y. smoking ban, 2006). In light of this potential situation the total prohibition of smoking in all establishments (with a few exceptions) was seen as the best possible solution of which restaurant and shop owners were all in agreement with.
The end result is a situation in which smokers would have to travel to adjoining states in order to smoke within various restaurants and establishments, an unlikely scenario given the high cost of gas and the inconvenience of having to travel just to eat and smoke at the same time. Thus the potential economic aftereffects of the smoking ban are negligible further justifying its implementation within the state of New York.
Is the ban a Justifiable form of Discrimination?
When examining the basis of the ban it can be seen that it is in essence a form of discrimination against smokers, as such it must be questioned whether it is ethically justifiable to effectively ban an activity which is done by a particular social demographic.
What must be understood is that unlike other forms of discrimination such as those pertaining to race, ethnicity and gender; smoking actually has a verifiable detrimental effect on people (SIEGEL, 2011). Coming from a particular gender, race or ethnic background doesn’t cause any detrimental effects to people within a particular area while smoking does cause the prevalence of second hand smoke which is considered to be hazardous to a person’s health.
It is based on these facts that it can be seen that discrimination on the basis of race, gender and ethnicity is unjustifiable since there are no immediate effects noted while smoking has verifiable negative effects which makes it justified to discriminate against it since it posses a distinct health risk to people within a particular location (SIEGEL, 2011).
Based on the various facts and arguments presented in this paper I would like to state that I am in favor of the smoking ban in New York since as it can be seen it posses little detrimental economic aftereffects, creates a safer working and eating environment for people within the state and based on the fact that it is considered a health hazard makes it justifiable to discriminate against its use within public areas.
The statement “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” is applicable in this particular case since it is in the best interest of the majority to preserve their health as compared to the perceived convenience of smoking for the minority of smokers within the state.
METRO BRIEFS. (2011). New York Amsterdam News, 102(8), 3. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Philippidis, A. (2002). Golden Apple considers NYC smoking ban. Westchester County Business Journal, 41(34), 5. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Sales steady after N.Y. smoking ban. (2006). Indianapolis Business Journal, 27(21), 20A. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
SIEGEL, M. B. (2011, May 6). A Smoking Ban Too Far. New York Times. p. 27. Retrieved from EBSCOhost..
The Beat. (2007). Environmental Health Perspectives, 115(10), A491-A493. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.