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The Effects of Smoking in Public Places - Essay Example

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The deleterious effects of tobacco smoke on smokers have long been well-documented and universally acknowledged. However, the effect of tobacco smoke, in public places, on non-smokers has been taken up for study and debate only in the last two decades. …
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The Effects of Smoking in Public Places
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The Effects of Smoking in Public Places. The deleterious effects oftobacco smoke on smokers have long been well-documented and universally acknowledged. However, the effect of tobacco smoke, in public places, on non-smokers has been taken up for study and debate only in the last two decades. Second hand smoke, or Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), is a combination of the smoke emanating from the burning tip of a cigarette, pipe or cigar and the smoke which is exhaled by the smoker. Exposure to this ‘second hand smoke’ is termed involuntary or passive smoking. Beginning with the watershed 1993 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Report, growing scientific evidence indicates that ETS has widespread hazardous effects (Rhode Island Government Web site). As ETS from smoking in public places is the proven cause of cardiovascular diseases, respiratory disorders and childhood ailments, a ban on smoking in public places is definitely called for.
Passive smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular diseases. The physiological effects of ETS include increased rigidity of the aorta, increase in blood platelets with a corresponding rise in blood viscosity and injury to the epithelium lining the arteries. As the dilatory capacity of the blood vessels falls, heart rhythm is interrupted. The presence of the addictive drug nicotine in tobacco causes a sharp increase in heart rate and blood pressure. A 1997 study, published by the American Heart Association, showed that ETS exposure nearly doubles the risk of heart attack (American Heart Association Web site). Another landmark study in Helena, Montana, in 2002, demonstrated that in an area where exposure to ETS was drastically reduced by a ban on public smoking, the incidence of heart attacks declined by almost 60% (Ravven, 2003).
Scientific evidence also strongly corroborates the link between passive smoking and respiratory disorders, with the risk of lung cancer increasing by 25%. The EPA has estimated that exposure to ETS causes about 3000 deaths from lung cancer annually. Of the 4000 chemical substances found in second hand smoke, about forty are known and identified carcinogens. Reduced lung functioning, aggravation of symptoms such as coughing, marked increase in asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis and emphysema are caused, or precipitated, by ETS (American Lung Association Web site).
Children, with their vulnerable, developing respiratory systems, are even more susceptible than adults to the harmful physical effects of second hand smoke. Babies and toddlers are involuntary captives of ETS, as they cannot move away from smokers. The toxins in ETS cause decreased lung function, higher frequency and severity of asthma attacks, bronchitis, pneumonia, coughing, wheezing, phlegm and breathlessness. Fluid build up in the middle ear, a direct effect of ETS, causes ear infections, leading to hearing loss and ear operations. The 2006 Surgeon General’s Report unequivocally states that even brief exposure to ETS is injurious to children (American Lung Association Web site)
In the light of such unambiguous evidence, a ban on smoking in public places is the need of the hour. Currently, fourteen states in the U.S. have strong anti-smoking legislation (American Lung Association Web site). While the ban on smoking in workplaces has gained increased acceptance, with studies showing a corresponding increase in productivity and decreased absenteeism, restaurants and bars are resisting change, motivated by unsubstantiated fears of commercial loss. Public education on the adverse effects of smoking in public and an incremental approach to change, such as beginning with segregation into smoking and non-smoking areas and ventilated premises, will overcome resistance and lead to the voluntary creation of a healthy, smoke-free environment for all.

Works Cited.
American Heart Association Web site. 2007. Smoking in Public Places. 1 March 2007.
< http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3003114 > American Lung Association Web site. 2006. Search LungUSA. 1 March 2007
< http://www.lungusa.org/site/apps/s/content.asp?c=dvLUK900E&b=34706&ct > Rhode Island Government Web site. 2007. Rhode Island Tobacco Control Program.
How Your Smoking Affects Others. 1 March 2007
< http://www.health.ri.gov/disease/tobacco/secondhandsmoke.php > Ravven, Wallace. 2003. Six month public smoking ban slashes heart attack rate in
community. 1 March 2007.
< http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2003-04/voc-sps032603.php >Read More
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