A recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that 1 billion people will die from diseases related to tobacco in this century. However the number of deaths could be reduced dramatically if governments banned smoking in public and work places, banned cigarette advertisments and increased tobacco taxes.
Despite the fact that right now 5.4 million people are still dying each year due to tobacco, in some places smoking levels are beginning to decline. For example the New York City smoking rate has decreased by 20% since 2002 to only 17.5% of the population. NYC achieved this rate in part through anti-smoking ads as well as through higher taxes and bans on smoking in public places.
The dangers of cigarette smoke are very severe. One carcinogen from tobacco is called NNK (4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone) and is known to cause lung cancer – it is only found in people’s bodies due to tobacco. Recent research has shown that 2nd hand exposure to tobacco smoke increases levels of NNK by 6% for each hour of exposure!
Given all the dangers of tobacco smoke – and how many lives could be saved if people were not exposed to it – it seems that banning smoking in all public places is the only logical thing to do.
As non-smokers also bear some of the costs of smoking related illnesses – including tax payer funded research into these illnesses which could be better spent on non-lifestyle preventable diseases – aggressive campaigns to discourage smoking also seem justified. What do you think?
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