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Have you ever noticed that whenever you are in a circle of friends and there is a smoker among them, they all go and sit down in the smoking area for the sake of the smoker? And have you ever noticed that whenever somebody smokes, the surrounding area within a radius of at least three metres has the pleasure to enjoy the smoke? The discussion on the prohibition of smoking in public places has been going on since years, and it is now actualised one more time by the announcement of the Deutsche Bahn according to which smoking on railway platforms will be prohibited. After presenting the opposite view, I will argue that smoking should be forbidden in public, using a few arguments which I will defend against possible counterarguments to prove my point of view.

One of the most important laws of the German Constitution is the principle of freedom. Anyone has the right to realise himself as long as nobody else is affected in his freedom or injured in any way. This law is also applicable to the case of smoking. People have the right to smoke just as they have the right to go to a pub and drink a beer. In short, smoking is not illegal, so why should smokers be banned from public places and be discriminated against as if they were committing a crime?

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Indeed, everyone is free to choose his own way of life. Smokers are free to consume cigarettes just as non-smokers are allowed not to smoke. However, the main point to bear in mind is that smoke does not only affect the smoker himself, but to an even higher degree the non-smokers neighbouring him. Scientific studies have proved that non-smokers suffer more from passive smoking than it would be the case if they smoked themselves. Irreparable health defects such as lung or glottis cancer can be the result of passive smoking. Therefore, the smoker not simply damages his own health, but as additionally damages the health of non-smoking people who possibly have a healthier lifestyle.

Smokers may admit to a certain degree that their habit probably affects their surrounding. Yet, they could refer to medical findings which prove that smoke does only affect one’s health if consuming it regularly over a long period of time. Besides, they could mention that they are already bothered by the inconvenience of having to sit in smoking areas which some public places as restaurants or cafes have set up and which are in general in some back corner of the room, so that a non-smoker does not necessarily come in contact with cigarette smoke if he does not want to.

Of course smoking does only affect you in long-term contact. But is there even the smallest possibility of not getting in contact with smoke regularly over a long period of time? Experience shows that a non-smoker cannot move freely in public without getting in contact with cigarette smoke. If you wait for the bus or the train there will always be somebody who is smoking cigarettes. If you go to a discotheque or to a pub or bar you will find that the majority is smoking there likewise. Even if you stay at home and some friends are visiting you, there will always be somebody who wants to smoke. Consequently, a non-smoker is affected by smoke almost in every place he goes due to the fact the he likewise has the freedom to move around. The other way round, a non-smoker does not affect the health of the smoker just by standing somewhere.

What comes next is the environmental pollution a smoker causes. First, he pollutes the fresh air around him. Then he throws his fag end on the street or on the rails instead of using ashtrays. In addition, even whole cigarette packets are sometimes thrown away carelessly. As a result, the environment suffers from additional pollution and there has to be more money invested in the cleaning of streets and buildings, which definitely bothers the tax payer.

Still, a smoker would rather contradict this argument and claim that only a minority of smokers pollute the environment. The majority use ashtrays and throw their packets in the litter bin. And even if there are some black sheep among the smokers, throwing fags away does not cause much trouble. Besides, according to a general experience, a smoker pays such an amount of cigarette tax that the waste disposal is paid and the economy of the state is stabilised.

Nevertheless, these are only weak arguments not excusing the polluting of environment. The announcement of the Deutsche Bahn shows that the majority of smokers do actually throw their cigarette ends away, otherwise there would be no cause for such an examination. The findings base on long-term studies which show that an amount of a few millions Deutschmark could be saved during a year if smoking on railway platforms was prohibited. The cigarette tax is therefore only a small contribution to the cleaning costs our state has to pay. Moreover, the health damaging effect smoke causes also burdens medical insurance companies. Hence, the cigarette tax does not stabilise the economy in any way. Lastly, nobody smokes because of such unselfish feelings as patriotism or for the sake of economy.

In conclusion, all arguments mentioned against the prohibition of smoking in public fail to be valid. The discussion on this topic automatically leads to the disadvantages smoking has for health and environment, and these are medically and statistically proved. Thus, there are undeniable reasons for stopping to smoke or at least for not affecting other people with cigarette smoke in public.

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Kylie Garcia

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