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Debate: Smoking ban on public patios

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Should cities ban smoking on public restaurant and bar patios?

Background and context

In some cities in the United States and elsewhere, many have proposed banning smoking on outdoor public patios, particularly in Restaurants or Bars. This was proposed in Los Angeles, for example, in early 2009[1], and rests on the presumption that, even when on outside patios, smokers will subject non-smokers to the involuntary inhalation of second-hand smoke.

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Protecting non-smokers: Is a ban necessary to protect non-smokers?

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Pro

  • Public smoking ban protects health of non-smokers. Smoking does not just harm the smoker. It also harms people nearby, who breathe in the smoke. Smokers choose to smoke, but people nearby do not choose to smoke passively. Most argue that people should only be exposed to harm if they understand the risks and choose to accept them. A ban on smoking on public patios is needed to protect people from passive smoking. Research suggests that partners of smokers have an increased chance of developing lung cancer, even if they do not use tobacco products. It is estimated that passive smoking kills approximately 80 000 people in the EU alone every year. (Brussels estimates that 15% of all deaths in the EU could be attributed to smoking.)
  • Public smoking ban protects rights of non-smokers. One's freedom to swing one's fist ends where someone else's nose begins. Similarly, the right to smoke ends exactly where it comes into conflict with the lungs, nasal passages, and health of others. Public places are such a place. Therefore, in order to maintain the rights of non-smokers, smoking in public places should be banned.
  • Smokers can/should smoke in private places, not in public. Many smokers excuse their public smoking on the grounds that they don't have anywhere to smoke. However, there's their private property and homes. Why not smoke there?
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Con

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Choice: Do victims of second-hand smoking have no choice?

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Businesses: Will a smoking ban be fair to businesses?

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Enforceable? - Would a smoking ban be enforceable?

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Public opinion: Is banning smoking on public patios popular?

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See also

External links and resources

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