Recently in Lubbock, there has been talk of a citywide smoking ban that would restrict the ability to smoke in public places. The vote was delayed by the city council on Oct. 23. It is time, however, to ban smoking in public places in Lubbock.
We have all heard that smoking is dangerous and potentially deadly, and yet people continue to huff and puff on their cigarettes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking cigarettes can cause heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and has a direct impact on the fertility of a woman. There is no positive to smoking.
When Tech students go out into bars and restaurants in Lubbock, we should not have to worry about the damage being done to our bodies by secondhand smoke. According to the American Lung Association, secondhand smoke is “responsible for approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths and 46,000 (ranging 22,700-69,600) heart disease deaths in adult nonsmokers annually in the United States.”
Secondhand smoke, according to the American Lung Association, has many negative effects on our bodies. These include, “exacerbation of asthma, increased frequency of colds and ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome. Secondhand smoke causes more than an estimated 202,000 asthma episodes, 790,000 physician visits for buildup of fluid in the middle ear, and 430 sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) cases each year.”
Smoking is still incredibly prevalent in our society today, despite all the information we have about how bad it is for our bodies. According to the American Lung Association, “in 2009, an estimated 46.6 million, or 20.6 percent of adults (aged 18+) were current smokers.” That is an astounding number; 1 in 5 adults used cigarettes as recently as 2009.
There has been a recent study by Lancet, says BBC, that smoking bans “have had a positive impact on child health.” According to a BBC article, “Researchers found a 10 percent reduction in premature births and severe childhood asthma attacks within a year of smoke-free laws being introduced…the study also found a 5 percent decline in children being born very small for their age after the introduction of smoke-free laws.”
According to the article, “at present, 16 percent of the world’s population is covered by smoke-free laws.” England banned smoking in enclosed public places in 2007 and Scotland did in 2006. Why is the United States, and Lubbock itself, so behind on the times? There is no denying that exposure to secondhand smoke has no positives, so why delay banning smoke in public places?
Current smoking laws allow restaurants and bars to decide whether or not to allow smoking. Many restaurants and bars want to ban smoking but are afraid of backlash from smokers. According to a KCBD article, Michael Clintsman, owner of Bar PM and Local Bar and Grill, hopes to soon change the fact that his establishments allow smoking.
“We talked to a few bar owners and restaurant owners that were afraid to go out on a limb in fear of backlash financially,” said Clintsman. “But if it is even across the board then competition will be even as well.”
“I care about people’s health and my employees’ health,” he said. “My mom actually passed away from lung cancer so it’s a cause near and dear to my heart. It’s time for us to catch up with everybody else and be a little progressive.”
Tech’s Student Senate, according to Fox 34, is in support of the smoking ban, voting “73 percent in favor of the resolution.” Tech students are not the only people fired up about this issue; there is a group called The West Texas Smoke-Free Coalition.
According to an article in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the group is working to urge “the council to ‘act now’ by directing the city attorney to begin drafting a more comprehensive ordinance prohibiting smoking in all indoor workplaces.”
Smoking, as we all know, is dangerous, and exposure to secondhand smoke can cause adverse health effects. Why, then, is it OK for people to be put at risk just by going to dinner or to get a drink? The Lubbock City Council needs to pass the smoking ban, not just postpone the vote in fear of backlash. The ban does not take away the right to smoke, but it takes away the right to harm other people in the process.
Smoking in public should be illegal nationwide but Lubbock needs to be ahead of that curve in order to help out Tech students and its residents.