Efforts to ban smoking in public, which poses great health risks to both smokers and non-smokers, could be challenged by resistance from businesses who profit from selling cigarettes, resistance from smokers, and the problems associated with policing and ensuring that the public and businesses follow through with smoking mandates. In previous discussions, the health risks and implications of smoking in public were established, thus, the proposition that public smoking should be banned. Banning public smoking, however, is a challenging feat because it would meet resistance from various individuals and groups and it requires strong, unwavering, and consistent policing and implementation from authorities who are capable of changing and imposing mandates. Banning public smoking would be detrimental to businesses and bothersome to people who smoke, therefore, causing them to oppose laws against public smoking. Another challenge is the consistency in ensuring that laws banning smoking are followed, which will require great time and effort from the authorities.
Problems that Need to Be Addressed with the Proposed Solution
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Various businesses institutions would suffer losses if public smoking were to be banned. Therefore, these businesses, mostly from the tobacco industry, resist public smoking bans for economic reasons. Establishments like bars and restaurants earn monetary gains from selling tobacco-based products as well as attracting patrons who consume these products. “Owners of bars and restaurants have fought laws restricting smoking on their premises, fearing that they would lose the patronage of smokers” (Schneider, 2010, p. 20). In addition, businesses in the tobacco industry resist public smoking bans because it will drive them out of business. Anti-smoking laws would essentially affect the frequency and percentage of consumption among smokers. Consequently, it would lead to decreased demands of the product and profit. “Tobacco is a major industry in the South, supporting jobs and providing profits for tobacco companies” (Schneider, 2010, p. 20). On the labor and economic sale, decreased demand and profit would also lead to unemployment, affecting not only the performance of businesses but also the livelihood laborers in the tobacco industry. Due to the severe impact of anti-smoking laws, people in position who could enact these laws would think twice. Sometimes, politicians choose not to support anti-smoking laws because of its impact to the economy. The issue could be addressed if politicians could find a means to convince business to support their cause. Nowadays, businesses are required to implement Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the workplace. CSR, which is an effort to ensure that a business protects social interest, is even a standard that businesses should meet in order to ensure support from stakeholders. If politicians demand that supporting anti-smoking laws is part of CSR practices (Banerjee, 2007), then businesses might choose to yield and support public smoking mandates.
Aside from businesses, anti-smoking laws could also meet resistance from smokers themselves. Individuals who are addicted to the consumption of tobacco prefer to smoke whenever they please. When anti-smoking laws were being passed in several states, many individuals claim that prohibiting people from smoking in public areas is a threat to their personal freedom. Several campaigns have been launched including “paid advertisements supporting smokers’ rights, financing smokers’ groups, and lobbying for smokers’ rights legislation to ubiquitous campaigns celebrating the birth of the Constitution and Bill of Rights” (Brandt & Rozin, 1997, p. 350). People who resist anti-smoking laws claim that such mandates are unconstitutional because it prohibits them from enjoying their freedom. In order to address this issue, key legislators suggest that anti-smoking campaigns focus on smoking as a health issue in order to underscore the importance of the mandates to be passed. Moreover, legislators force anti-smoking laws by passing other laws that would support it. For instance, New York representatives passed the New York City Indoor Air Act in 1990, which means that prohibiting smoking in public spaces is constitutional since the Act ensures that air in indoor spaces are kept clean and free from smoke (Brandt & Rozin, 1997).
Another issue that would pose as a problem in the implementation of mandates against public smoking is the need for consistent policing to ensure that individuals and businesses conform to laws. According to Rabin (2001), the problem with anti-smoking laws is that violations are mostly left unreported. In addition, the government does not have enough manpower to assign individuals who would man public spaces. To resolve this issue, the government should encourage people and businesses to practice self-policing and making them responsible and accountable for violations and the impact of public smoking. Moreover, the government could increase awareness by ensuring that society understands the detrimental outcomes of public smoking and urging them to report acts that violate anti-smoking laws (Rabin, 2001).
The health risks and implications of smoking underscore the importance for the implementation of laws that prohibit public smoking. However, implementing such laws is challenging and prone to resistance from smokers and businesses. The major challenges surrounding the proposed solution include: (a) resistance from businesses that profit from tobacco sales, which consequently pose threats to the economy, (b) resistance from smokers regarding social issues such as freedom, and (c) the effort required to police public spaces and ensure that businesses and individuals follow mandates. These challenges could be resolved, however, by imposing that businesses follow standards in CSR, implementing other laws that would support anti-smoking laws and focusing on public smoking as a health issue, and doubling efforts to police public spaces by involving the public.