Tobacco Education Center


How to Answer Arguments about Smoking

THE POLLUTION ARGUMENT

There's so much pollution. What difference does tobacco smoke make?

ANSWER

Tobacco smoke paralyzes the cilia in the lungs and reduces the capacity of our bodies to handle the pollutants which are part of our lives. This is why smokers are more prone to colds and other diseases. Also, pollutants are synergistic; several together can be more harmful than would seem to be their total effect. Besides, according to the Environmental Protection Agency environmental tobacco smoke is the major polluter of indoor air. People spend more time indoors than outdoors.

THE CAR ARGUMENT

Why don't you help by not driving your car?

ANSWER

While car pollution is definitely a problem, our society has accepted much of it because of its redeeming use. There is no redeeming need for smoking. Indoor air pollution from tobacco smoke is often worse than outdoor pollution. This is an indoor air problem. You don't see too many people driving cars indoors. No one would allow the kinds of outdoor pollution (to which they compare cigarettes) to exist indoors. For example, a car would never be permitted to give off fumes in a restaurant or in a workplace.

The Courtesy-is-Adequate Argument

ANSWER

If courtesy were adequate to protect people, we would need no laws at all. How can courtesy handle large gatherings or places where people are already in attendance and smoking? Besides, regulations do not interfere with people who are courteous; they only interfere with people who plan to be inconsiderate.

I have a right to smoke if i want to. If you ask me to stop, I can ask you to stop breathing

ANSWER

Smoking and clean indoor air cannot be equated. Clean indoor air and breathing are necessary to life; smoking isn't. Besides, most laws do not guarantee anyone the right to pollute the air.

I SMOKE BECAUSE EVERYBODY DOES

ANSWER

It is a proven fact that two thirds of the American adult population does not smoke. In Colorado, less than 22% of the adult population smokes.

PEOPLE PUT ON WEIGHT WHEN THEY QUIT SMOKING

ANSWER

There is an error in reasoning; we see many fat smokers. Just eat sensibly. Besides, you would have to gain 60 to 100 pounds to tax your heart as much as you do by smoking a pack a day. Because smoking is such a strain on your heart and lungs, maybe that's why you lose weight when you smoke.

WE NEED THE TAXES FROM TOBACCO SALES

ANSWER

This is shortsighted. We lose more from the death, disease, and destruction caused by tobacco than we gain from tobacco taxes. Why should the government make money as a drug pusher since nicotine is considered an addictive drug? If tax revenue were our only concern, we could legalize prostitution and tax it.

I'M NOT HURTING ANYONE WHEN I SMOKE

ANSWER

Your loved ones and anyone near you are being harmed by smoke pollutants. You are setting a bad example for your children and are practicing child abuse by forcing your children to breathe polluted air. It is a fire hazard for you and your family and it raises everyone's insurance rates.

MY GRANDFATHER LIVED TO BE 90 AND SMOKED ALL HIS LIFE

ANSWER

You could put on a blindfold and walk across a busy highway at rush hour and possibly not get hurt. This does not make it a wise thing to do and only a small percentage of those who tried would survive. Your grandfather was one of those fortunate enough to survive. One thousand people die every day of the year due to smoking related diseases or fires. Statistics do not lie: smoking shortens life. Smokers are inclined to point to the few survivors who have smoked a lifetime. Yet smokers fail to consider the millions who have succumbed at an early age to cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and other diseases related to smoking. Also, don't forget those around your grandfather. Secondhand smoke kills thousands of Americans every year and causes a great deal of eye, nose, and throat irritation. Smokers risk not only their health, but also the health of those around them as well.

I Can't Tell My Customers Not to Smoke in My Store

ANSWER

It's your establishment, and you have a right to restrict smoking to protect your employees, your customers, and your merchandise. If smokers can go to a movie and refrain from smoking for an hour and a half or during two hour flights, surely they can refrain during the time they are in your establishment.

The Hospitality Argument

You Cannot Ask Your Guests Not to Smoke.

ANSWER

Your first obligation is to provide safe accommodations for your guests, the majority of whom are probably nonsmokers. Just as you would not serve bad food, you should not allow polluted air. As for your smoking quests, they wouldn't like you to tempt them to drink if they were alcoholics; they wouldn't like you to tempt them with sugar if they were diabetics.

THE ARGUMENT FROM THE GROUP THE MAJORITY OF THOSE AT A MEETING ARE SMOKERS, SO THE MAJORITY SHOULD PREVAIL.

ANSWER

This is lynch-mob thinking. If a few people want to rob another of health, is a majority opinion the appropriate way to decide? Furthermore, tobacco use is already limited by custom in churches, funeral homes, around newborns, and by regulation in many areas. Our society accepts the idea of providing special facilities for the handicapped. Where are the special facilities for nonsmokers, who form seventy-eight percent of our population?

THE LIMITATION OF FREEDOM ARGUMENT

(The most common argument used by the tobacco lobby)

ANSWER

Limitation of one freedom is often necessary to protect a more important freedom. In this case, health rights are more important than the "freedom" to indulge in a self-destructive habit that also harms others. Freedom of choice is no longer the best choice when that choice endangers others. Everyone accepts as good and proper the limits of many freedoms. That is why we have speed limits and prohibitions on spitting in public.


 



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