On Aug. 28th, 2013, to raise awareness of the effects of smoking on campus, volunteers at the University of Illinois searched and picked up all cigarette and tobacco litter scattered over the campus grounds. Within two hours of cleaning up, the students recovered over 20 pounds of litter.
The University of Illinois at Chicago, Darton College, University of Michigan, Georgia Northwestern Technical College and Armstrong Atlantic State University are just a few colleges on a long list of campuses that are smoke free.
Finally, outdoor smoking ban advocates argue that they are doing society – and ultimately the smokers themselves – a favor by banning the act. The theory is that if smokers are sufficiently discouraged from lighting up in public, they will be more likely to quit and, therefore, avoid developing a smoking-related illness. Society also benefits because our health care system will spend less money on treating preventable illnesses caused by smoking.
Some people opine that it is okay to do anything one wants as long as he/she is not hurting the others in the process.
• Some have proposed that nonsmokers, in order to avoid inhaling the smoke, may prevent themselves from going to places that allow smoking.
But not everyone is enamored with the idea of prohibiting smoking in all public areas. Many people, including a sizeable number of non-smokers, are opposed to the idea of banning outdoor smoking on philosophical grounds. They view such bans to be actions of an ever-creeping “nanny state” which seeks to regulate and punish all sorts of private behaviors, even at the expense of our civil liberties.
The most productive and compassionate approach to the public health issue of smoking is to treat smokers as addicts rather than willful nuisances. When treating addictions, the addict’s attitude and mental state are crucial. Cessation techniques that focus on psychologically overcoming nicotine addiction, such as , have produced better long-term outcomes than laws designed to banish smokers from public view.
The main flaw with this Pavlovian approach to quitting is that smoking is not merely a personal choice – rather, it is motivated by an addiction to nicotine, which has proven to be one of the most difficult drugs in the world to quit. While the goals of smoking ban advocates are well-intentioned, simply outlawing behavior has never been the most effective strategy for getting people to quit their stubborn addictions.
A typical smoker who is no longer allowed to smoke in a park on his lunch break will, on average, find the nearest alleyway to smoke in. Most smokers will endure extra hassles if it means they can get their nicotine fix, and that is precisely why social ostracization alone cannot “help” most of them quit for good. If anything, they force smokers to cling to their addiction even more tightly, safely out of public view. At their worst, outdoor bans increase the alienation smokers feel without helping them gain any control over their addictions. It fails to solve the deeper issue, much like how bans on panhandling don’t eliminate the problem of homelessness; they merely displace it.
The truth is that bans on smoking in public places are, as their often critics claim, social engineering measures designed to disincentivize the act of smoking. Because our society has reached a consensus that smoking should be discouraged, many people feel that it is the government’s responsibility to “denormalize” the act of smoking around other people by outlawing the behavior outright. The theory is that if smoking becomes socially stigmatized to the point of invisibility, more people will make the decision to quit, and fewer young people will choose to take up the habit.
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At VSU, smoking is allowed on campus but not within the facilities, such as residence halls and offices, and not within 50 feet of the entrance to any building, according to the Housing and Residence Life and the Event Services Policies and Procedures.
This lack of scientific proof is cited by opponents who argue that outdoor smoking bans are more about stigmatizing and banishing smokers in a punitive manner than protecting public health. While there is ample evidence that being in a smoky indoor space exposes you to carcinogens, the same cannot be said about outdoor secondhand smoke. Furthermore, non-smokers choose to put up with many other types of pollutants when they go outside. In many cities, carbon monoxide from car emissions is the far more prevalent – and similarly toxic – air pollutant, yet nobody has proposed a blanket ban on cars.