In most parts of the world including the United States of American, smoking is still legal despite the health hazard that it poses not only to the smokers themselves but also to second hand smokers that live around them. Such health dangers of smoking include Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, and other life-threatening illnesses that have been medically proven to be caused by the nicotine that is dominant in tobacco, which is the raw material for cigarette manufacturing. A report released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 2004 (Wiedemer, 2002) revealed that tobacco is one of the most heavily abused drug among the most addictive substances in the United States of America. According to the report, in 2004 for instance, 70.3 million people used tobacco at least once in the month preceding the survey. The minimum smoking age for smoking however is 18yrs in almost all states in the US. Once an individual attains the majority age therefore, it is deemed as his/her right to chose whether to smoke or not. However, smoking laws while recognizing the right of adults to choose their lifestyle have greatly failed to protect the non-smokers who are exposed to second hands smoke due to the cigarette smokers puff into the air; the latter of which those around them breathe.
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According to Kathleen (2008), second hand cigarette smoke has equally disastrous health effects to the passive smokers as it is to the first hand smokers. Furthermore, it is physically irritating for a non-smoker to subsist and breathe air that is contaminated with second hand cigarette smoke. Consequently, whether the smokers are exercising their right or not they must show some responsibility and care about the non-smokers who live around them by at least refraining from smoking in public places. This paper therefore explores the dangers that second hand smoke pose to the passive smokers and points out measures that can be initiated to protect them from these passive ‘killers’.
Passive Smoking: The Effect of Second Hand Smoke
Cigarette smoking is one of the acts that pose an extremely serious health risk not only to the smoker himself/herself but also to the people in the environment they pollute with the smoke that first hand smokers release into it. Irrespective of the fact that many people tends to view smoking in terms of the actual smoking, the act itself involves puffing the cigarette (tobacco) smoke and then releasing it into the air and which anti smoking campaigners and medical practitioner argues that it poses equal health risk to the public that inhales the polluted air (Wiedemer, 2002). Logically, the environment in which the cigarette smokers exists is composed of tobacco contaminated particles suspended in air.
Proponents of cigarette smoking often put forth an argument that cigarette smoking is an individual’s personal lifestyle, decision, and choice. According to such, illegalizing smoking would be infringing into the rights of such persons. However, this argument has been disapproved and dismissed on the basis of the finding that inhaling of the air contaminated by the smoke that cigarette smokers puff into the air has equally disastrous health effects just like the actual act of smoking by the first hand smoker. As a result, smokers are unknowing endangering the lives of as many people who get to breathe the air they pollute with cigarette smoking; amounting to what is referred to as passive smoking (Regan, 2009). While actual smoking can be controlled by limiting the number of cigarette that one smokes, the amount of contaminated air that an individual breath is incontrollable making it even more dangerous to the health of the passive smokers. Furthermore, the fact that these passive smokers are innocent and are being subjected to smoking without their intention to do so makes it extremely unfair to the unsuspecting population.
According to anonymous (2008), the second hand smoke or rather passive smoking presents varied, numerous and life threatening health hazards to the contaminated air breather’s lives (whether smokers and non smoker), since it amounts to breathing in nicotine via interacting with the contaminated air or rather by breathing the air contaminated by second hand cigarette smoke. The later asserts that passive smokers are equally at risk of the health hazards associated with smoking. Irrespective of the fact that the effect of the drug is greater on the first hard smokers themselves, Paulos, (2005) argues that the second hand smokers’ who breathe air contaminated with tobacco smoke were smokers too but argued that it was unfair for individual to be subjected to such a risky act as smoking without their knowledge, consent, and intention to do so. She asserted that it was unreal for an individual therefore to argue that smoking is an individual’s choice and should be let free to exercise their “choice” to lifestyles when he or she constantly endangered the lives of individual who constantly interacted with the environment that is typically a tobacco smoker’s hub.
Furthermore, research reveals that just like first hand smokers, consistent breathing of cigarette smoke from a smoker could also be addictive (Anonymous, 2008). This is evidenced by the report presented by NIDA in 2004 and which reported that smoking prevalence rate was highest among individual who constantly interacted with smokers or merely lived in a tobacco smoking hubs. She asserted that it was unreal for an individual therefore to argue that he or she was not a smoker when he or she constantly interacted or lived in an environment which is typically a tobacco smoker’s hub. In her article entitled Sickly seconds, Paulos (2005) pointed out that by the virtue of mere breathing the smoke from someone else cigarette, it amounted to a form of unconscious substance abuse or rather smoking (passive) and that such poses serious health problem no different from the intentional cigarette smoking. As such, she pointed out that it was important for people to protect themselves from breathing in the second cigarette smoke by keeping away from nicotine contaminated air.
Furthermore, the effects of second hand smoking clearly renders the law that prohibits smoking among the minor useless because the children are also subjected to the tobacco hazard by the second hand smoke which is equally hazardous to the youngster’s life and comfort. According to Wiedemer (2002), it would be counteractive and a rather waste of time to put the legal smoking age at eighteen years and proceed to subject even toddlers to passive smoking by contaminating the air with second hand cigarette smoke.
Many anti-smoking activists have argued for total illegalization of cigarette or rather smoking. Wiedemer (2002) strongly asserts that the need to ban smoking cannot be overemphasized and that it’s long overdue an argument that drew support from Paulos (2005). In his argument, Wiedemer says that Cigarette smoking poses fatal health hazards not only to the smokers but also to the lives of as many innocent people who interact with the smokers’ environment and ends up breathing the air contaminated with second hand cigarette smoke; the latter of which amounts to passive smoking that is very inhuman and unfair especially to the non smokers since it makes them smoke without their consent thus exposing them to same health danger as the intentional smokers.
Banning smoking would be an ideal and a comprehensive measure to protect passive smokers. However, breathing is not usually smoking especially if the air that we breathe is kept free of such contamination. As such, the latter amounts to passive smoking if and only if it has tobacco particle suspended in the air that an individual breath in due to second hand cigarette smoke having been released in to the immediate atmosphere by a careless first hand cigarette smoker. Consequently, cigarette smoking through breathing or rather passive smoking can be avoided by maintaining the air that we breathe clean and free from cigarette smoke. Despite the fact that it is challenging to achieve this objective since the air is not static, it can highly be controlled via strict laws that restricts smoking in the open or public places. After all, individual’s smoke on their own volition and banning smoking would deny the people a right to choose their lifestyle. Therefore, second hand smoking particularly by the passive can be effectively prevented by putting measure that instills some responsibility to smokers making or forcing them to refrain from smoking in public places such as bus parks, out side of restaurant open street as well as all other places that are inhabited by the general public hence restricting smoking to the smokers themselves. In effect, regulations to this effect needs to be developed and enforced hence those who are caught defying such laws should be treated like murderers. Such should therefore be arrested and charged as they are killers of innocent citizens.