Smoking Should Not Be Banned

10 October 2016

There has been much debate recently in Trinidad and Tobago on whether smoking should be banned totally. The Minister of Health and the Cancer Society have, on separate occasions, promoted this call while tobacco companies rebutted vociferously in the media as well. The focus of this article is to prove that smoking should not be banned. To begin, the smoking of cigarettes and tobacco has been ‘linked’ by researchers to heart disease and cancer. The word ‘link’ is important because to date, no concrete evidence has been unearthed that unequivocally proves that smoking causes heart diseases and cancer.

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Besides, don’t fried foods, exhaust fumes and asbestos sheets cause cancer too? Why not ban these as well? In addition, many people smoke (80% of smokers) to relax themselves when things become too tense (non-smokers will understand). It is not uncommon to see a person smoking during coffee breaks or lunch time after a period of tough work. If such people were to denied the calming effects of ‘a little smoker’ then they may go beserk and become abusive or even violent.

Another pertinent point is that the tobacco industry is a major employer in the country. More than ten thousand workers are directed or indirectly involved in the industry. To shut down the industry is to take away livelihood of these workers and surely the stress from no income from such large sector would result in chaos. Also, what about their expensive sponsorship of many events? Most importantly, however, the act of smoking remains the choice of the individual. Smoking is not illegal so every responsible adult can choose to smoke or not.

Every individual has a legal right to engage in any legal activity. Alcohol is legal and it can lead to abuse and violence. Tobacco is legal but surely it does not lead to social evils of alcohol. Maybe these activists should focus their attention on alcohol. In closing, a smoker has a freedom of choice and is doing nothing illegal, so there is no need to prevent him from doing something that relaxes him. Perhaps the efforts of non-smoking activists should be directed to the more reasonable quest to have smoking banned in public places.

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