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Author Topic: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question  (Read 9387 times)

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Offline alxnjshTopic starter

Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« on: June 22, 2011, 03:08:27 PM »
I decided to start this thread in response to reading a few other threads regarding the freedom of individual's to make life choices while at the same time the government attempting to influence (in one thread called coercion) the choice. I am one who very much supports the idea of freedom of choice and to live out lives as long as they do not negatively impact others.

One example in a thread was smoking. Recently new labels will be added to packages in the U.S. depicting quite explicit results of smoking. No denying they are the results, but they are uncomfortable and seen as intrusion by some. It's not a new phenomenon to do this and other countries have must more explicit labels.

Again, going back to my ideology that people can do whatever they want as long as it is not hurting another (very subjective, I know), I felt that smoking should be criminal. Countless research has proved the negative impact smoking has on the environment, health, and life expectancy. We also know that health care costs from smokers affects all of us (my main argument for abolishing smoking…your choice is making me pay more). But, that's anecdotal in nature – evidence informed and not evidence based.

I decided to do some research as I typically am one that needs data to support a supposition.

I found that when you purely examine the expenditures on healthcare over lifespan of an individual who smokes versus a healthy individual, the healthy individual costs MORE!

What? MORE!

Then using analytical deduction…and reading the next sentence in the article that explained the research…it is more because in general smokers die on average 10 years earlier than non-smokers.

Hmmm…made me think and I’m still thinking.

People make bad choices. Is it the enlightened way to allow them to make bad choices and just live with the consequences or help them understand that the choices they make are bad so they don’t make them?

What about people who smoke in enclosed cars with children? Apartments? Beyond smoking, what about unhealthy eating - that accounts for more healthcare costs than smoking. These are choices they make.

Just wondering your thoughts…

Offline Silk

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2011, 03:21:15 PM »
Somebodys dietry habits don't adversely affect my health if I'm nearby.

Offline alxnjshTopic starter

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2011, 03:30:42 PM »
Somebodys dietry habits don't adversely affect my health if I'm nearby.

Perhaps not your health, but your pocketbook. In the U.S. alone, the CDC estimated $147 billion was spent in healthcare costs as a direct result of obesity.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2011, 03:41:18 PM »
Estimating the cost of smoking on healthcare is very difficult to determine.  Many people look at lung cancer as a definitive marker, but this is only a portion of the picture.  Smoking contributes to other forms of cancer, heart disease, renal failure, high blood pressure and a host of other medical issues not often attributed to the habit.  On top of this are the undetermined causes of second hand smoking, especially in children.  That smoking is predominant in lower class groups, which are more commonly without insurance, is another factor against smoking.  Smoking is one of those issued hammered into anyone that works in the medical field, another industry that frequently smokes oddly enough.

While someone’s bad habits do not directly impact another individual, they do show up in the budget.  Obesity is certainly a financial problem since it leads to many of the disorders listed above.  Obese people are also prone to get cancer.  Poor people are also those most affected by this condition due to the expensive nature of healthier choices and the quick availability of food.  Also, things like reckless driving and drinking are choices that also increase the healthcare budget.  Reckless driving also increases the amount of money people must spend on auto insurance.

Offline Brandon

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2011, 05:40:10 PM »
I recall an interview done with the surgeon general earlier this week on the exact topic of smoking and he pointed out that the previous warnings reduced smoking by about 20% since they were implimented. He then said and I am going to loosely quote him here "The old labels no longer catch peoples eye and tell them about the risks of smoking". I just had to stop and go WTF? Its true that in a society like ours we have gotten used to disregarding advertisments but I still had to wonder where he got that information. Is it his opinion or are those people still smoking aware of the dangers and choosing to accept them? I dont know what the truth is there but I do not think he should have made that claim without research to back it up. It screams of personal bias IMO

Now for me, Ive been taught the dangers of smoking since I was about 12. I had family friends that smoked, I learned about it in high school, and I learned about it in the army. The education of the dangers and chance for addiction were always there for me. Despite all of that I tried a couple of cigars when I was 20 or 21 out of curiousity and I found it wasnt for me. I havnt picked up a cigar or cigarette since. Another thing I noticed while in the army was smoking was common for socializing. While the smokers got together and I joined them because it was a social get together.

This is my problem with the whole anti-smoking thing. Its no longer about non-smokers rights. They have all the concessions they really need IMO. Now its about smokers rights, the right to make a choice, to accept the dangers of it and to enjoy something without being treated like criminals for their legal choices.

just my 2 cents


Offline Will

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2011, 05:51:18 PM »
Perhaps not your health, but your pocketbook. In the U.S. alone, the CDC estimated $147 billion was spent in healthcare costs as a direct result of obesity.

I know the smoking to unhealthy eating comparison is one that gets made a lot, but there is a vast difference involved.  Prohibiting smoking is doable (maybe not easy or practical, but still); prohibiting unhealthy eating is simply not.  Linking the two isn't really constructive.

Offline alxnjshTopic starter

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2011, 06:04:16 PM »
I know the smoking to unhealthy eating comparison is one that gets made a lot, but there is a vast difference involved.  Prohibiting smoking is doable (maybe not easy or practical, but still); prohibiting unhealthy eating is simply not.  Linking the two isn't really constructive.

I would disagree that both linking "isn't really constructive" and "prohibiting unhealthy eating is simply not [doable]." The parallels are numerous:

1. They both cost the government (and via taxes individuals) a lot of money to pay for their effects.
2. They are both greatly regulated AND prohibited - School Boards are eliminating sugary foods from vending machines, switching to healthy lunches, trans-fats are being outlawed by cities across the U.S., you can't get foie gras in Chicago, nearly all food is graded on a scale developed by the Feds.
3. They both can be a want rather than a need.
4. They are both backed by very powerful and wealthy lobbies.
etc...

Offline Will

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2011, 06:09:06 PM »
My point is that smoking can be illegalized outright.  Lifestyles cannot.  Linking the two provides the opportunity for people to say "smoking shouldn't be outlawed until obesity is!  It's not fair!"  That is what isn't constructive.

Offline alxnjshTopic starter

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2011, 06:23:17 PM »
My point is that smoking can be illegalized outright.  Lifestyles cannot.  Linking the two provides the opportunity for people to say "smoking shouldn't be outlawed until obesity is!  It's not fair!"  That is what isn't constructive.

I'm sorry, I'm not seeing that quote "smoking shouldn't be outlawed until obesity is! It's not fair!" Could you point it out?

If you construed that from my remarks I would like to clarify...I did not say that, nor believe it.

The purpose of this thread is to discuss "People make bad choices. Is it the enlightened way to allow them to make bad choices and just live with the consequences or help them understand that the choices they make are bad so they don’t make them?"

Smoking and eating poorly are personal choices and examples...but we can list a whole bunch more:

1. Random unsafe sex
2. Drinking and driving
3. Daredevil stunts
4. Riding a motorcycle without a helmet
5. Not using a seat belt

Offline Will

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2011, 07:12:20 PM »
I'm sorry, I'm not seeing where I said that you specifically believed as much. Could you point it out?

If you construed that from my remarks I would like to clarify...I did not say that, nor believe it.

Offline alxnjshTopic starter

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2011, 07:34:25 PM »
I'm sorry, I'm not seeing where I said that you specifically believed as much. Could you point it out?

If you construed that from my remarks I would like to clarify...I did not say that, nor believe it.

If you want to continue the discussion start your own thread, but don't use mine.

The purpose of this thread is to discuss "People make bad choices. Is it the enlightened way to allow them to make bad choices and just live with the consequences or help them understand that the choices they make are bad so they don’t make them?"


Offline Hemingway

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2011, 07:41:17 PM »
Smoking is one of the issue on which I have a hard time making up my mind. On one hand, I believe people should have the right to do as they please, as long as it doesn't harm anyone. I don't smoke personally, and my lungs object to the very notion, but I can see why people do it, I suppose. I do, after all, do things that aren't healthy, too. The main difference is that the things I do that aren't healthy, don't have the potential to damage people around me. The smoking laws that have been implemented in various countries, my own included, seem like a reasonable compromise. Illegalizing smoking outright would be a long leap in the wrong direction.  So there's the rational side of it, and I haven't been able to get any further than that.

However, I do think people ought to be discouraged from smoking. I don't know how effective warnings and pictures are, but whatever else can be said, I can't imagine anyone looking at them and thinking to themselves, "I have to take up smoking". The main thing, I would say, is this: smoking comes at a cost, not just for the individual but society at large, and not just a monetary cost. It seems to me it would be in the best interest of the state to get people to quit - or at least to prevent more people from starting. And when it comes to warnings, the thing to ask is this: are they misleading or wrong? If not - and I think at this point we can all agree that smoking does, indeed, increase your risk of lung cancer and so on - then it seems to me there's nothing really wrong about having them there.

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Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2011, 07:48:02 PM »
I'm sorry, I'm not seeing that quote "smoking shouldn't be outlawed until obesity is! It's not fair!" Could you point it out?

If you construed that from my remarks I would like to clarify...I did not say that, nor believe it.

The purpose of this thread is to discuss "People make bad choices. Is it the enlightened way to allow them to make bad choices and just live with the consequences or help them understand that the choices they make are bad so they don’t make them?"

Smoking and eating poorly are personal choices and examples...but we can list a whole bunch more:

1. Random unsafe sex
2. Drinking and driving
3. Daredevil stunts
4. Riding a motorcycle without a helmet
5. Not using a seat belt

Numbers 2 and 5 are illegal in most parts of the US, and 4 is illegal in a fair number of states.  Numbers 1 and 3 have had public service announcements about them (the famous 'Do not try this at home' disclaimers show at the beginning of every stunt show I've ever seen.)

Offline Caela

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2011, 09:40:00 PM »


The purpose of this thread is to discuss "People make bad choices. Is it the enlightened way to allow them to make bad choices and just live with the consequences or help them understand that the choices they make are bad so they don’t make them?"

Smoking and eating poorly are personal choices and examples...but we can list a whole bunch more:

1. Random unsafe sex
2. Drinking and driving
3. Daredevil stunts
4. Riding a motorcycle without a helmet
5. Not using a seat belt

This is a list of things you can't stop people from doing on the front end. There is nothing on this list that people don't KNOW are bad for them. In this day and age it is common knowledge that unsafe sex can lead to anything from pregnancy to various STD's and eventual death, the other four can also lead to death and people know it. It doesn't stop them from doing it.  Most of that list have various legal consequences as well as personal ones, doesn't stop people from doing them.

You can't truly legislate anyone's actions. Prohibition of anything doesn't really work. If it did there wouldn't be a rampant drug trade and no one would ever die from being crashed into by a drunk driver (I know alcohol isn't illegal, driving under the influence of it IS). All you can do is inform people of the consequences beforehand and punish it on the back end and hope that a single punishment modifies the unwanted behaviour.

Offline Jude

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2011, 04:36:18 AM »
To Caela's point:

If you judge the success of a law as a black and white proposition of "did all undesirable behavior cease" then you're right Caela, but when you broaden the criteria to "did the law reduce the incidence of undesirable behavior" you get a much more nuanced, varied approach that I think most people would consider much more valid.  And while the war on drugs (as far as I know) is not successfully combating drug usage, it's pretty obvious that drinking and driving has been curbed by the legislation against it (if not by dissuasion, by the actual removal of people's licenses who do it).

And to the broader point:

Everything we do affects other people.  As such, if you use the very inclusive net of "affects other people" to determine what behaviors need to be regulated, you end up in a tyrannical nanny state.  Therefore more stringent criteria is needed.  Something like, "directly, demonstrably, and physically" effects other people is closer to an acceptable standard, but it doesn't quite fit the bill.

On smoking in particular:

I have nothing against smokers.  I don't like how often they're vilified simply for having an unhealthy habit when we all have unhealthy habits.  However, that does not mean they shouldn't have their behavior regulated when it affects other people directly.  Smoking in bars and enclosed spaces simply needs to stop.  Numerous studies have shown that when cities ban public smoking, it has a direct, measurable effect on the number of people admitted to hospitals in the region.  This is especially true for workers in the entertainment industry (bars, clubs, etc.) who are simply trying to make a living and don't need to be stuck in a smoke-filled room 40 hours a week.

As for the packaging change... I think it's stupid and likely to be ineffectual, but not a big deal.

Offline Malefique

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2011, 04:56:41 AM »
Here in Britain smoking has been banned in all enclosed spaces (except for shisha pipes, which are actually more damaging than normal tobacco but which are ethnic and therefore allowed).  The result has been that some people no longer have to work in smoke-filled environments - and huge numbers of pubs, clubs and bars have gone out of business, so those people no longer work at all.  The streets are filthier than ever, with the tobacco smokers coming outside to smoke and littering the pavements with their debris.  There are laws against this but not nearly enough officers to enforce them, so it just goes on.   There has been an increase across the country in the complaints of noise nuisance and anti-social behaviour as people who used to go and socialise in pubs and clubs now have their friends round their homes and create noise problems for their neighbours.  Not to mention the numbers of these people who have children (or younger siblings) who are now in an even worse environment than before because of the increase in smokers on the premises.  A few people have given up smoking, but most simply do it elsewhere.  So now our government is pondering banning smoking in cars and in private homes.  I personally think it should be banned in cars, and that children should not be forced to inhale smoke.  But now my kids have to inhale it when they pass a gang of drinkers out on the street puffing away; and also have the unpleasantness of the 'adult' and inappropriate conversations that were once conducted inside premises they never entered,  being conducted loudly and for the benefit of all comers on the street.  Smoking could be banned outright but our government will never give up the huge revenue it receives in taxation from it.  Besides, the US has already shown the world what Prohibition of people's addictive habits leads to.  I think it makes more sense to allow informed adults to make their own choices.  Business should be allowed to choose if they allow smoking and simply display large warning signs if they do (and children under 16 not allowed on the premises if they do).  Staff could be offered the choice of staying on in a smoking environment or working elsewhere.  I don't smoke but I'm very tired of being told what I can and can't do.  I believe soap operas are actually far more damaging than cigarettes, as they set up standards of behaviour and expectations of life that are poor at best and loathsome at worst, but nobody will ban those.  So I switch off the set, the same way I don't buy the cigarettes and I didn't frequent places that allowed smoking.  I'm an adult, I make my choices.  As long as I don't impose them on others and hurt no-one else then I don't see why I should be told I can't. 

Offline Zakharra

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #16 on: June 24, 2011, 12:18:00 PM »
 Smoking is legal, so there's only so much that can be done to deter people from smoking. By now you can safely assume that every adult and teenager that  smokes, knows the dangers and chooses to do it anyways.

 

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2011, 08:01:37 AM »
Ever see the movie Thank You for Smoking? I say slap a big Skull & Crossbones on everything not good for you. You get that bag of chips there is the big Skull & Crossbones, you go to McDonalds on the wrapper of your quarter pounder with cheese a Skull & Crossbones and we can go on. Require they be 25% of the packaging in front and then it will be simple.

OR

Put the information out there and let people choose for themselves without being so graphic which is clearly what we have been doing.

Offline consortium11

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2011, 10:05:49 PM »
Just on the cost to society as a whole... smoking is objectively beneficial. Not only do smokers generally die younger leading to lesser costs but the tax they pay for each cigarette is huge.

This is off the top of my head so I may need to check my numbers but from what I recall in the UK the direct costs of smoking (almost all NHS healthcare) are around £2.9 billion a year. The amount of tax smoking brings in is around £9.7 billion a year.

In terms of government revenue it would actually be beneficial if everyone smoked...

Offline AndyZ

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2011, 01:10:21 PM »
My issue with smoking is the following: I'm asthmatic.  If someone is smoking five or ten feet away from me, I start having trouble breathing.  When it comes up, you'd be surprised how many people tell me that I should just leave, with the right of the person to smoke trumping my right to exist.

To me, the argument is basically that a person can swing a ten foot chain around in a wide circle and walk around wherever they want, but it's the fault of anyone nearby if they get smacked with the chain.

A bit hyperbolous, I realize.  However, there's a difference between a drug that only affects you and a drug that you exhale out into the air around you.

Offline Malefique

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2011, 05:16:15 PM »
Oh, I do sympathise, I don't agree that smokers have the right to just crap into your lungs like that.  But then my son is allergic to a lot of perfumes, they make him wheeze, and you'd be amazed how many people don't see any reason why they shouldn't just squirt the stuff into the air right in his face.  There are some shops he can't even enter because the perfume counters are right across the doorways and he can't get past without some prat using the testers to stink themselves up.  But nobody suggests banning scent sprays...

Offline AndyZ


Offline Malefique

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #22 on: June 30, 2011, 05:24:49 PM »
Wow!  I had no idea!  My son will be delighted.

Offline Noelle

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #23 on: June 30, 2011, 09:06:31 PM »
Here's why the perfume example doesn't really work:

- Perfume is only hazardous to the health of a select percentage who is allergic/otherwise averse to it due to personal health issues.
- Cigarette smoke is hazardous to everyone, regardless of allergies, asthma, or any other present issues.

At any rate, it's largely a much more unrealistic expectation to demand other stop using perfumes and sprays because a small number of people are allergic when it is innocuous to most others. People with peanut allergies can't expect others to stop eating peanut butter, but it's more realistic to ask that things be labeled clearly so they can give their own due diligence in avoiding those products and places where they might be in danger of contact. Cigarettes, on the other hand, are universally terrible for the person smoking and every single person around them, pretty much without exception. Restaurants tried to separate out 'smoking' and 'nonsmoking', but as we all know by now, it was largely useless.

Offline MagicalPen

Re: Individual Choices Affect Community - Smoking Question
« Reply #24 on: July 01, 2011, 09:17:07 AM »
Freedom of Choice + Smoking does bring up an interesting conversation.

For instance, I should be able to walk outside of a building and NOT have to inhale the smoke fumes from some one who has come outside for a smoke. I find the smell revolting and it just clings to everything. In the most recent instance, the smokers literally stood outside the sliding doors (to a medical building) which caused the inbetween space (between the two sets of sliding doors) to reek of smoke pretty badly. This is not healthy or friendly for everyone else who has to walk through said door to enter/exit the building.

I quite like the idea some airports have - smoking rooms - and think that (beyond personal property) smokers should only be allowed in designated areas. Its unhealthy for everyone - the smoker and those around them - so should be confined to smaller areas. Just like you aren't allowed to drink in public, you shouldn't be allowed to smoke in public either (cigarrettes are a drug - people get addicted - and should be treated [to an extent] like all other drugs).