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Smoking ban stops heart attacks

February 24, 2011

Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, chapter 18, he states that “tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right.” I would like to relate this to the smoking ban in public places, such as restaurants. Is the government using a power beyond its right when making this ban? Who are they to tell smokers where and when they cannot smoke? Smokers have already been segregated in these public places into their own section, but that wasn’t enough?  The answer is no that isn’t enough because smoking not only kills but second hand smoke also kills. When your smoking a cigarette other people shouldn’t be put at risk for cancers and other health problems. This exercise of power turned out to be for the greater good of the citizens of America.

In an article on CNN from Theresa Tamkins, she reports on a study that shows a drop in heart attacks after the smoking ban was put into place. The study went on to show that the smoking ban could prevent between 100,000 to 225,000 heart attacks form occurring each year in the United States (Tamkins, 2009)).”Nonsmokers have a 25 percent to 30 percent higher risk of heart attack if they inhale smoke at home or at work, and smoke has been shown to affect heart health within minutes (Tamkins, 2009).” The government used their power to limit the freedom of smokers to benefit the well being of all citizens in general. Every person benefits from less smoke in the air. Many years ago, this was not the case. Smoking was allowed in even hospitals but now since we know that dangers of this, the government has decided to step in. I feel that this use of power gives US citizens the right to free air, even though it takes away the right of where one can smoke. Is this the exercise of power beyond right?

Tamkins, T. (2009). Big drop in heart attacks after smoking bans, studies say. Retrieved February 24, 2010 from

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  1. Zack Orsini permalink
    February 24, 2011 6:34 PM

    Austin Spaulding,

    Great post. This was brought up in lecture, and I was considering writing about it if no one else did.

    I also think it is a good idea to have this ban. Locke, I believe, intended for people’s liberties to be protected just as long as no one else’s rights or liberties are infringed in the process. As he states in the text, “government has no other end but the preservation of property” (311)*. The problem with smoking is that it (in many cases) infringes on a public/common property of the people: the AIR we breathe. Since the end of government is to preserve property, it has the power to prevent smokers from damaging this (extremely important) public property.

    Smoking is a seriously nasty habit, and I truly feel sorry for people who are addicted to it. My own grandfather (on my mother’s side of the family) perished from lung cancer due to smoking in 2003. I really do hope that more treatment options will be made available for habitual smokers who need help to break their urges to light up. Perhaps the US ban (and the Ann Arbor ban) will bring more attention to it and will drive innovation.

    *Wootton, David, ed. Modern Political Thought: Readings from Machiavelli to Nietzsche. 2nd ed. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2008.

  2. Nick Steiner permalink
    February 25, 2011 11:11 AM

    You brought up some good points Austin. I think we should also consider, however, that some of the bans being put into place, like the one on the University of Michigan campus, are to be enforced outside, and not inside of buildings. Although second hand smoke is undoubtedly unhealthy for people around smokers, is it very harmful if people are smoking in an open, well-ventilated area (i.e. outside)? I am a non-smoker, however, I feel as though I have the ability and right to move away from someone who is smoking outside if I feel as though the smoke is bothering me. Is a ban on smoking outdoors taking things too far? Does the benefit for the non-smokers of the ban outweigh the reduction of rights for smokers? These are obviously very difficult questions to answer but they are worth considering when thinking about this issue.

    • Layne Simescu permalink
      March 15, 2011 10:01 PM

      Nick, you bring up an interesting point. I feel that the smoking ban on campus should indeed be enforced outside of buildings as well as inside. I’ve noticed that even outside, there is a heavy risk of inhaling second hand smoke. It seems like every time I walk into a campus building, the outside entry is filled with students smoking in between classes. I usually hold my breath as I walk inside. In the winter time especially, smokers crowd around the doors to the buildings in order to smoke. They can get out and back into the warmth quickly. But, this causes problems for the students that have to walk through all that smoke in order to enter the building. It’s a risk for people with asthma, or heart conditions. Think about how many times you enter a campus building per week. A lot! If every time you walk into a building, you are inhaling second hand smoke, think of the dangers from all that exposure. I’m not blaming students who smoke for standing near the doors. That is where the cigarette trays are located. It is also much easier to stand near the warmth of inside when it is 15 degrees outside. But, I do feel like a smoking ban is a good idea to protect the health of all students. Even walking behind someone that is smoking is uncomfortable. There are plenty of places to smoke outside of campus. I feel that, when I’m on campus and attending classes I (and the rest of the student body) shouldn’t have to worry about health risks related to second hand smoke. In enacting this ban, the government is protecting the health of all citizens and is therefore promoting the greater good. The government is not exercising it’s power beyond right.

    • kkokotil permalink
      April 20, 2011 5:37 PM

      I agree that the ban on smoking in public places is a good move but I personally don’t feel that the ban on smoking on the entire campus in general is correct, because as Nick said, people can move away from it outside. I definately acknoledge that it can sometimes be frusterating for non-smokers to walk through groups of people smoking outside of building entrances, but would you rather these people smoke further away where there is no ash tray resulting in those people littering their cigarette butts on the ground? I think a sensible compromise would be to establish ash trays around campus, not near building entrances, where smokers can smoke while still be sensitive to non-smokers concerns.

  3. Josh Platko permalink
    March 3, 2011 4:54 PM

    This story is a spot on example of Lockes interpretation of tyranny and

  4. Josh Platko permalink
    March 3, 2011 5:10 PM

    …..excersising power beyond rights. The governement is slowly taking away all the freedoms that smokers had, and it is showing the positive effects. People are less likely to have a heart attack due to second hand smoke. Those who have smokers in their home are still at harm due to the consistent smoke filled air. These smoking bans may seem to be the best thing for smokers. What a great time to slowly start quitting their awful addiction. They are being limited to the areas that they can smoke, so they will be less likely to light up everytime they have a crave.

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