The Instigator
whatledge
Con (against)
Losing
11 Points
The Contender
bluesteel
Pro (for)
Winning
28 Points

Cigarettes Should be Illegal

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/2/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 35,107 times Debate No: 13252
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (42)
Votes (8)

 

whatledge

Con

~Intro~

I contend that cigarettes should remain legal. My opponent's objective will be to provide competent arguments to show otherwise. No semantics.

My opponent can post his round in the first round, if he chooses to do so. My arguments will start in round 2.

I look forward to a fun debate.
bluesteel

Pro

1. Smoking hurts our economy

Subpoint A: productivity

Smoking leads to a less productive work-force in the United States because smokers are more likely to develop a host of illnesses, so they are more likely than non-smokers to miss a large number of work days. According to Dr. Mark Clayson, smokers are more likely to develop ulcers, asthma, high blood pressure, chronic pulmonary disease, cancer, and heart disease. [1] In fact, according to the Vancouver Sun, "Cigarette smoke causes 90 percent of all cases of lung cancer, which kills 1.2 million people a year globally." [2] The aforementioned illnesses mean smokers miss a great deal of work days. A study of 2,500 postal workers published in the American Journal of Public Health found that the absentee rate for smokers was 33% higher than for non-smokers. [3] The Center for Disease Control estimates the lost productivity attributed to smokers at $92 billion a year. [4]

Subpoint B: health care costs

Because smokers are more likely to develop a host of medical-related issues earlier in life than expected, they are much more expensive to insure, and their medical costs are astronomically higher. USA Today reports that smokers cost their employers 25% more money in terms of medical costs. [5] The Center for Disease Control estimates the direct health care costs of smoking at $75.5 billion. [6] The health care costs of smoking are often charged to non-smokers, in what is called in economics a negative externality. When smokers make health care costs more expensive for the insurance companies, the companies are forced to charge higher premiums to everyone, including non-smokers. The costs of smoking are not just bourn by the smokers themselves.

Allied Quotes, a health insurance quote company, adds together the costs of lost productivity and higher medical costs to get a figure of $157 billion for the total annual cost of smoking to our society. [7] Although the typical pack of cigarettes only costs $5 for the smoker to purchase, Allied Quotes states that, "Overall, for every pack of cigarettes smoked, that smoker costs the nation $7.18 in medical care and lost productivity." The hidden costs of smoking far outweigh the actual costs.

2. Lives

The Center for Disease control estimates that smoking causes 440,000 premature deaths each year, which amounts to 50 per hour. [8] These statistics only apply to people who smoke cigarettes, they do not capture the negative health impacts imposed by secondhand smoke. Although we have known for quite awhile that secondhand smoke is harmful, many people are still held captive to secondhand smoke when they go to work, eat at a restaurant, or as they wait for a bus. According to the American Nonsmoker's Rights Foundation, only 47.5% of people in the United States reside in a state where smoking is banned in all workplaces, restaurants, and bars. [9] Even in those states where smoking is functionally banned indoors, many people cannot avoid exposure when they use public transportation, wait in line outside a store, or simply walk down the street stuck behind a dreaded smoker. This is extremely problematic for people with young children. According to Lynne Eldridge, M.D., a recent study found that people exposed to secondhand smoke as children were twice as likely to develop lung cancer as adults than those who were not exposed as children. [10]

3. Marketing (to kids)

In addition, the trend in smoking is only getting worse as the $5.5 billion annual marketing budget of the cigarette companies persuades an increasing number of Americans to start smoking. A great deal of marketing is aimed at children because, according to a Surgeon General's Report, 90% of regular smokers started at or before the age of 18. [11] Tobacco Free Kids reports that each day, 3,000 children become regular smokers. [12] As evidence that marketing is disproportionately effective among the youth population, Tobacco Free Kids explains, "Eighty-six percent of kids who smoke (but only about a third of adults) prefer Marlboro, Camel and Newport, the three most heavily advertised brands. Marlboro, the most heavily advertised brand, controls almost 60 percent of the youth market but only about 25 percent of the adult market." In addition, a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that kids are influenced more by cigarette advertising than by peer pressure. [13] This is scary considering a host of other studies in the general field of psychology showing the enormous influence that peer pressure has on children. Lastly, two University of Arizona marketing professors conducted a study that found that "each time a child saw an advertisement that appeared to promote a particular cigarette brand, the likelihood of being susceptible to smoking grew by 182 percent." [14]

Tobacco company executives have been quoted extensively as deliberately targeting children aged 14-17 during the 1970s, although since being caught, they have been careful not to explicitly state such intentions since that time. However, the de facto intent of cigarette advertising is to target people who are as yet undecided as to whether they will become smokers, a group of people comprised mostly of children, since most adults have already made up their minds as to whether or not to smoke cigarettes.

The Economist recently argued that we should legalize heroin so that the drug proceeds could be re-invested in rehabilitating users. This would make sense, until the big heroin companies started advertising to kids how cool and normal it is to shoot up on heroin. Then the potential positive effects of legalization would easily be negated by the negative effects of advertising aimed at trying to make a negative product more appealing to young people.

The ultimate impact is that the "choice" to smoke is not really a choice if we are inundated by positive smoking advertising by the time we turn 18. If the vast majority of people always made the right choices, we would have nothing to fear from legalizing harder drugs.

In summary, banning smoking would add $157 billion to our economy from increased productivity and lower medical costs. In addition, a smoking ban would save 440,000 lives annually. Lastly, a smoking ban would reverse the bad trend of increased smoking among young people due to cigarette advertising.

A smoking ban is fair considering how many of the costs of smoking are forced upon non-smokers by smokers, such as lost productivity, higher health care premiums, and forced exposure to secondhand smoke. If you're a smoker, next time you buy a $5 pack, please pay the non-smoker next to you the $7.18 that you owe him or her due to all the hidden costs.

[1] http://ezinearticles.com...

[2] http://www.vancouversun.com...

[3] http://www.alliedquotes.com...

[4] http://www.usatoday.com...

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] http://www.alliedquotes.com...

[8] http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com...

[9] http://www.no-smoke.org...

[10] http://lungcancer.about.com...

[11] http://www.tobaccofreekids.org...

[12] Ibid

[13] Ibid

[14] http://uanews.org...
Debate Round No. 1
whatledge

Con

I thank my opponent for his timely response.

~Refutations~

1. Smoking hurts our economy

Subpoint A: productivity
I grant my opponent that cigarettes are unhealthy, but if everything that is unhealthy and unproductive should be made illegal, the government would have to criminalize a lot more than just cigarettes under the same criteria, such as junk food and fast foods. Obesity is becoming a national problem. [1]

Subpoint B: health care costs

We all pay for the expenses of having certain rights and privileges, though not all might agree with those rights. Similarly, while cigarettes can affect the cost of health care, that doesn't mean that right shouldn't exist. The health care also covers Abortions, and those who may not agree with Abortions pay for a health care program that does.

Furthermore, there are always going to be things that will harm humans, both voluntary and involuntary, which is what necessitates the health care in the first place. The cost of health care shouldn't be the reason to criminalize a certain right and freedom.

2. Lives

This argument can be applied to fast food, which poses a major threat to our nation.
"Although most of the health problems related to fast food aren't felt until middle age -- obesity and diabetes are at an all-time high --- the damage starts before children enter kindergarten. Hoping to shape eating habits, fast-food chains market heavily to children. About 96% of American school-aged children recognize Ronald McDonald, second only to Santa Claus. Almost every American child eats at a McDonald's� at least once a month." [2]
Fast food markets to both children and adults, and their products start to damage the agent before they enter kindergarten. Should fast food be made illegal too?

3. Marketing (to kids)

Because cigarette companies market their products to children, it should be illegal for those who are old enough to smoke? There is already a ban on advertising cigarettes. Cigarette companies that do market to kids are doing something that is already illegal. Teenagers are impressionable and reckless and will do what they want, regardless of what the law states. Making cigarettes illegal because it markets to kids is unreasonable.

~Arguments~

~Prohibition Era~

My first counter argument is the Prohibition Era of 1920. The endeavor to ban alcohol ended in disaster, as crime rates skyrocketed and "While Prohibition was successful in reducing the amount of liquor consumed, it tended to destroy society by other means, as it stimulated the proliferation of rampant underground, organized and widespread criminal activity." [3] A ban on cigarettes would only trigger another facsimile of the Prohibition of 1920.

~Loss of Revenue and Jobs~

Cigarettes also attribute to great economic opportunities, as well as jobs.
"California's smokers, who comprise only 17.2 percent of the state's population, paid more than $2.2 billion in cigarette-related revenue to the state in 2001. That's more than $6 million a day, or nearly $4,200 per minute." [4]
"In 1999, 2000 and 2001, smokers nationwide paid $88 billion in cigarette revenues." [4]
American Cigarettes are also a popular import to other countries, which encourages trade and helps the economy. [5]
Criminalizing cigarettes also will cause further unemployment, and millions of those who work for tobacco companies will lose their jobs, as well as farmers who grow tobacco.

~The Right to Smoke~

As adults, I believe we have to deal with the consequences of our actions and choices; even if the result of smoking cigarettes causes a user to die.

http://www.helium.com... [1]
http://www.fa-ir.org... [2]
http://en.wikipedia.org... [3]
http://www.calnews.com... [4]
http://www.washingtonpost.com... [5]
bluesteel

Pro

Food comparison:
Two wrongs do not make a right. Just because people can eat themselves to an early death doesn't mean they should also be allowed to smoke themselves to an early death. The same logic would require us to legalize all hard drugs. People can make their own decisions regarding heroin. However, legalizing it would seem to sanction its use, make it more easily accessible, and allow companies to advertise that doing heroin is a desirable lifestyle choice. Cigarette use is much more widespread than it should be due to positive advertising from the cigarette companies that reach children (but do not necessarily "target" them).

Eating cannot be criminalized, since there isn't a clear brightline between what fat or sugar content is considered healthy and what in considered unhealthy. It depends on the expert who is studying the issue and the metabolism of the individual eating the food. In contrast, cigarettes are all unambiguously unhealthy. However, I would argue that marketing fatty foods to children using fun characters like Ronald McDonald should be illegal, which answers your objections.

In addition, Jamie Oliver on Food Revolution explains that fast food is okay when eaten in moderation, such as once a month. Oliver, in spite of his healthy eating credentials, admits to taking his children to fast food restaurants once a month. So eating McDonald's once a month is not incompatible with a healthy lifestyle. In fact, most children who become obese do so because of the food they choose to eat at home and the foods they pick at their school cafeteria (in addition to a lack of exercise), not because of fast food visits. Because obesity is not directly correlated to fast food, banning fast food would do very little. However, banning cigarettes would directly correlate to fewer smoking-related deaths and illnesses. Ingesting a quarter-pounder with cheese is not quite the same as sucking poison and tar into your lungs. Only one of those actions can be mitigated with daily exercise.

Also, keep in mind that quitting fast food will not give you withdrawal symptoms. Cigarettes contain an addictive drug (nicotine) that the government should have the right to regulate/ban.

Health care:
Yes, a very small number of plans cover abortions. However, abortions do not raise the cost of health care for everyone in the nation by $75 billion a year.

Marketing to kids:
When every single cigarette advertisement that is viewed by a child increases the child's chance of smoking by 182%, you have to admit there is a serious problem. Our psychologies are complicated regarding advertising, especially when we are children. The "choice" that you keep falling back on is not as simple as weighing the pros and cons and making a rational decision of whether or not to smoke.

The choice:
It is society's job to adjudicate competing rights claims. Cigarette smokers have the right to smoke. Non-cigarette smokers have the right not to be forcibly exposed to secondhand smoke and not to have to pay the hidden health care costs for smokers. It is now society's job to decide whose rights should supersede the other group's rights.

Nicotine is an addictive drug, the only recreational addictive drug that is legal. Although fast food and alcohol have some addictive properties, quitting either of them will not give you withdrawal symptoms. If we can remove a choice to do other addictive drugs like heroin, why can we not do so with nicotine? We recognize in our society that addiction is not truly a choice.

I'd like to note that at the end of the day, my opponent has no response to the fact that the hidden productivity and health care costs mean that non-smokers have to pay $7.18 for each pack of cigarettes that a smoker purchases. This unfair economic burden is why cigarettes should be banned.

Prohibition:
Cigarettes (today) are not analogous to alcohol (during the Prohibition Era). CBS News says in 2006 that: 71% of Americans drink alcohol regularly. [1] Prohibition obviously was going to fail when 7 of 10 Americans consumed the substance regularly. In contrast, many fewer people smoke cigarettes, approximately 20%. [2] In addition, the 7 of 10 Americans who drink alcohol mostly do not want to quit. Most of them drink socially and in moderation, which studies show can actually be healthy (riboflavin in red wine helps heart health). In contrast, most smokers actually want to quit because they know cigarettes harm their health, but they feel hooked. A Gallup poll in 2005 found that "more than three out of four smokers want to kick the smoking habit." [3] A ban would help motivate those 3 out of 4 smokers to quit. Obviously, since most smokers actually want to quit, there would not be the same backlash that there was during Prohibition.

Economic benefits of smoking:

First, keep in mind that a smoking ban in the United States would not necessarily force farmers to stop growing tobacco. Farmers could theoretically be allowed to sell the tobacco to companies that don't make cigarettes (nicotine gum companies for example) or could sell the tobacco to other countries where cigarettes are still legal.

In addition, the $2 billion added to the economy from smoking is completely outweighed by the $157 billion lost every single year from the economy from smoking due to lost productivity and higher health care costs.

Right to smoke:
Remember from before that others have the right not to be exposed to secondhand smoke and not to have to pay higher health care premiums. Society must decide whose rights are more important. In addition, people may have the right to do heroin, that doesn't mean that we should allow them to do so. Maybe people should also have the "right" to have a consensual sexual relationship with a child. Our moral repugnance to this example shows two things: 1) children cannot make fully informed decisions, which proves my advertising point (remember 9 out of 10 smokers start smoking as children) and 2) that we should pass laws that maximize the benefits for all society when rights are in conflict (an adult's right to have a sexual relationship vs. a parent's right to protect their child).

In summary, ban smoking because it is not really a choice – most people choose to smoke as children because they are inundated with advertising convincing them to do so. 3 out of 4 of them later in life would like to quit, but feel like they cannot; a ban would help them quit. Smoking is unfair because it impedes on the rights of non-smokers. Non-smokers have the right to a smoke free environment that does not endanger their health or the lives of their children. Non-smokers also have the right not to have to pay for the costs of smoking. Remember, each $5 pack of cigarettes costs society an additional $7.18 in hidden costs.

[1] http://www.cbsnews.com...
[2] http://www.tobaccofreekids.org...
[3] http://www.webmd.com...
Debate Round No. 2
whatledge

Con

Food comparison:
My opponent advocates a healthy life, I advocate a life where one can choose between a healthy and unhealthy life. My opponent's objections to cigarettes being illegal are that it is unhealthy, but why do we necessary have to live healthy lives? The meaning of life varies among many people, there are those who seek to live as long as possible, there are others who choose to live for the moment. If a man decides that smoking a cigarette is worth the risk of the illnesses and a short life, then who are we to prohibit that?

Health care:
Certain rights are expensive, that does not mean we shouldn't have those rights. We pay for things we don't believe in all the time.

Marketing to kids:
Advertising cigarettes to kids are illegal, and it is illegal for "kids" to smoke cigarettes. If kids choose to break the law, why should cigarettes be illegal to adults? The same can be said about video games, which exploits sex, violence, crime, along many others. Simply said, the product cannot be banned because the producers may market to children.

The choice:
"Cigarette smokers have the right to smoke. Non-cigarette smokers have the right not to be forcibly exposed to secondhand smoke and not to have to pay the hidden health care costs for smokers."
Smokers don't go around nonsmokers with a mission to give them second-hand smoke, furthermore there are laws put into place to minimalize second and third-hand smoking, such as banning indoor smoking. If you don't want to be around secondhand smoke, don't be around them. Compromises can be made, and have been made. [1]

"Although fast food and alcohol have some addictive properties, quitting either of them will not give you withdrawal symptoms."
Actually quitting alcohol abruptly can kill you and alcohol does give you withdrawals [2], along with caffeine and sugar [3]. If anything that gives you withdrawals should be illegal, then sugar, caffeine, and alcohol must be respectively illegal.
"If we can remove a choice to do other addictive drugs like heroin, why can we not do so with nicotine? We recognize in our society that addiction is not truly a choice."
Heroin can be overdosed very easily, which leads to death. Long time users develop a tolerance for it, to a degree where the user needs to inject have amounts just to feel "normal". People do not overdose on nicotine, and neither does cigarette have nearly the potency to do what heroine does.

"I'd like to note that at the end of the day, my opponent has no response to the fact that the hidden productivity and health care costs mean that non-smokers have to pay $7.18 for each pack of cigarettes that a smoker purchases. This unfair economic burden is why cigarettes should be banned."
There are a plethora of wasted tax dollars [4], point being, we all have to pay for things we don't want to. In the case of cigarettes, we pay the price for the right to smoke.

Prohibition:

While agreeably, there are not as many smokers as drinkers, this does not mean that prohibiting cigarettes won't increase crime rates. It opens a new black market and makes America a hot zone for organized crime.

Economic benefits of smoking:

Banning cigarettes would mean that Tobacco farmers would lose their primary patrons. People can only chew so many nicotine gums, and competition to export tobacco to other countries will be fierce. The damage this would do to farmers is evident.

In addition, the $2 billion added to the economy from smoking is completely outweighed by the $157 billion lost every single year from the economy from smoking due to lost productivity and higher health care costs.
Banning cigarettes won't make smokers quit (Similarly to the Prohibition Era), there are plenty of drugs that are illegal and still widely abused, which means that the lost productivity and health care costs could face no real change. However, if we do ban smoking the tax revenue from cigarettes will be definitely lost, and millions of employees would lose their jobs as a result from it. If anything, rebellious teenagers will be more attracted to cigarettes if they become illegal.

Right to smoke:
"Remember from before that others have the right not to be exposed to secondhand smoke and not to have to pay higher health care premiums. Society must decide whose rights are more important."
Secondhand smoke can be avoided by the electronic cigarettes. [6]
"In addition, people may have the right to do heroin, that doesn't mean that we should allow them to do so."
No, people do not have the right to do heroin. That right is denied by the government.
"Maybe people should also have the "right" to have a consensual sexual relationship with a child."
People don't have that right, and I don't see how sex with children is relevant to smoking cigarettes. Indeed, children do not have the ability to make the most rational choice, but that doesn't mean adults should suffer as a result of that.

"In summary, ban smoking because it is not really a choice – most people choose to smoke as children because they are inundated with advertising convincing them to do so."
It is illegal to advertise cigarettes to children [7]. If anything, teens start smoking due to peer pressure [8].
In summary, banning cigarettes won't make people quit. If anything, it will become "cool" and more daring to try, especially for teens, which is counterproductive. At the same time, we lose all tax revenue from cigarettes, if we were to ban the product, not to mention, myriads would be unemployed as a result. All of us are accountable for the choices we make in our lives, some choices will be bad, others good. It is ideal to make only good choices in life, but once we start enforcing the "good" choices, we have no choices to make at all. Regarding my opponent's objection that smoking is not a choice. If a smoker really wants to quit, they can do it [9]. There are numerous ex-smokers, who CHOSE to quit.

Sources:

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://alcoholism.about.com...
[3] http://www.caffeinedependence.org...
[4] http://alcoholism.about.com...
[5] http://www.rd.com...
[6] http://www.ecigaretteschoice.com...
[7] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[8] http://smoking.ygoy.com...
[9] http://forums.quitnet.com...
bluesteel

Pro

Food:
I think my opponent has essentially agreed with my assertion that banning fast food or unhealthy eating habits is impractical, while banning cigarette smoking is not. His food comparison example's effectiveness thus goes away.

Health care:
Again, this is my opponent's example. Anti-abortionists are not forced to pay for abortions. The recent health care bill that was passed leaves abortions out of federally funded health care programs. My objection still stands that it's unfair for non-smokers to have to pay billions of dollars for a habit that they do not engage in.

If we legalized cocaine, others would have to pay for the productivity/health care costs of increased cocaine addiction. Proving we sometimes pay for things we don't do is not a good justification for legality.

Marketing to kids:
I agree it is illegal to market to kids, which is why cigarette advertisers claim to be marketing to adults. But kids still see the advertisements. And remember, two University of Arizona marketing professors conducted a study that found that "each time a child saw an advertisement that appeared to promote a particular cigarette brand, the likelihood of being susceptible to smoking grew by 182 percent." Banning cigarettes would make it illegal to advertise them.

My opponent points out that children also start smoking because of peer pressure. Two responses: 1) Remember the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that kids are influenced more by cigarette advertising than by peer pressure. 2) A lot of peer pressure happens older to younger, meaning an 18 year old, who can now legally purchase cigarettes, pressuring someone younger than him to start smoking. Illegality makes peer pressure more difficult.

My opponent objects on moral grounds to banning something simply because it is advertised to children. I agree. Cigarettes should not be banned merely because they are marketed to kids, but for all the other reasons I've stated. My point here is more to show that the "choice" to smoke is not as simple a choice as my opponent makes it sound. Many people (90%) get hooked as children when they think smoking is really cool, and they are less likely to worry about their health. They then find it hard to quit. Remember the Gallup poll that 3 out of 4 smokers want to quit but feel that they can't because cigarettes are too addictive.

Secondhand smoke
I agree with my opponent that compromises have been made, but I showed before that 50% of people in the United States are uncovered by many of these compromise laws. I also know that smokers don't intentionally blow smoke in non-smokers faces, but if a smoker is jonesing for a cigarette at a bus stop, he often times will light up, forcing those around him to inhale secondhand smoke (this has happened to me). It's not deliberate, but it happens. If some people smoked illegally, they definitely would no longer do it around other people, for risk of being caught. Illegality solves secondhand smoke.

Addictiveness:
I give my opponent props for caffeine – I forgot about that one somehow. Alcohol is addictive only if you're an alcoholic, which is a very small minority of drinkers. Smoking, in contrast, is addictive to all regular smokers. People may crave sugar if they stop eating it, but their bodies do not start shaking uncontrollably.

My main response to caffeine is: when 3 of 4 caffeine users say they want to quit, but feel they can't, I'd consider banning it. And bad caffeine withdrawal only occurs with a minority of caffeine drinkers who consume over 3 cups of coffee a day.

Right to smoke:
My opponent concedes this point by saying "No, people do not have the right to do heroin. That right is denied by the government." That was my point in bringing up heroin. You can claim to have a right to do anything, but when the government calculates that something does more harm than good to society, it can deny one of those "rights," especially when those rights conflict with other people's rights.

Prohibition:
My opponent does not answer any of my analysis that Prohibition Era backlash was because the vast majority of drinkers did not want to quit drinking. However, the vast majority of smokers do (3 out of 4). The response to a smoking ban would likely be that 75% of smokers would quit immediately, rather than seeking out illegal means of procuring cigarettes. Even many people who did not want to quit likely would, rather than seeking out illegal cigarette dealers. Prohibition's underground bars only worked because 70% of the U.S. population supported them.

Also, keep in mind that unlike alcohol, which is usually consumed once a day, at night, inside a building, cigarettes are usually consumed multiple times a day, outside. It is much harder to hide from the authorities. Most people would quit when they realized they can't smoke during the day, like at work, for fear of being caught.

My opponent points out that people can choose to quit. I would assert that it's not as easy as he makes it sound. The fact that he cites a forum where people who are trying to quit congregate and help each other proves how difficult quitting actually is. If it were easy, no such forum would be necessary.

$7.18
The fact that we waste tax dollars sometimes does not answer this argument because 1) we shouldn't waste tax dollars and 2) tax dollars are not a part of the $7.18 that society pays per pack. We lose that money because smokers take extra sick days, which hurts our nation's productivity and makes our GDP growth rate lower, and because smokers force up health care costs, which means we pay more to our insurance companies in the form of monthly premiums. Those two costs add up to $157 billion a year, which amounts to $7.18 per pack purchased.

My opponent must mis-cite his source (his #4), because I can't find any reference to tax dollars, but I also assume that $157 billion a year is much more than what he is referencing.

Tax revenue: since smoking only generates $2 billion in sales (as my opponent has stated), the tax revenue gained would only be a tiny fraction of that $2 billion, mostly around 8% of it (sales tax). The $157 billion a year our society loses is still going to outweigh the pittance we collect in cigarette taxes.

Because we can no longer look at this from a moral perspective, since my opponent agrees that society can take away the right to smoke much as it has taken away the right to do heroin, that leaves the practical implications.

A ban would help smokers quit, considering that three-fourths of smokers want to quit. A ban would save our country $157 billion a year by making our economy more productive and lowering health care costs. A ban would solve the secondhand smoke problem. And a ban would end the unfair negative externality (the cost imposed by the few on the many, since they do not have to pay for it) of $7.18 per pack of cigarettes.
Debate Round No. 3
whatledge

Con

Food:
My opponent does not answer my essential assertion that eating unhealthy food is a choice much like smoking cigarettes are a choice. So I'll rephrase my argument again, My opponent's objections to cigarettes being illegal are that it is unhealthy, but why do we necessary have to live healthy lives? The meaning of life varies among many people, there are those who seek to live as long as possible, there are others who choose to live for the moment. If a man decides that smoking a cigarette is worth the risk of the illnesses and a short life, then who are we to prohibit that?

Health care:
My argument isn't limited to merely abortions, there are plenty of taxes that we pay for things we don't believe in. There are plenty of wasted U.S. dollars, at least in the case of cigarettes the money is used for the right to smoke.

"Proving we sometimes pay for things we don't do is not a good justification for legality."
Which is my point. My opponent asserts that cigarettes should be illegal because it is expensive.

Marketing to kids:
The manufacturers that advertise the products is of fault, not the product itself. It is asinine to make cigarettes illegal because the manufacturers are subtly breaking the law. The product cannot be blamed for the fault of the producer.

"A lot of peer pressure happens older to younger, meaning an 18 year old, who can now legally purchase cigarettes, pressuring someone younger than him to start smoking. Illegality makes peer pressure more difficult."
Almost half of the teens in the US have tried marijuana [1]. It is illegal, and yet does nothing to deter peer pressure or abuse. Making cigarettes illegal will provide minimal efficiency in deducing peer pressure. The same is with Alcohol, which is legal. Furthermore, an older teen distributing cigarette to younger kids is an illegal act, and therefore the older teen should be responsible in accordance to the law. Making cigarettes illegal because of an illegal act committed by teens is nonsensical.

"Many people (90%) get hooked as children when they think smoking is really cool, and they are less likely to worry about their health. They then find it hard to quit. Remember the Gallup poll that 3 out of 4 smokers want to quit but feel that they can't because cigarettes are too addictive."
"My opponent points out that people can choose to quit. I would assert that it's not as easy as he makes it sound. The fact that he cites a forum where people who are trying to quit congregate and help each other proves how difficult quitting actually is. If it were easy, no such forum would be necessary."
I never said quitting was easy, but my opponent makes it sound like it's impossible. There are smokers that quit, meaning there is a choice factor involved. If one is resolute in his decision to quit, then one can do it.

Secondhand smoke
There are unhealthy particles all over the atmosphere. Forgive the informality, but sh!t happens. Secondhand smoke isn't deliberate, and usually smokers have the decency to flick the cigarette or distance themselves, if you ask them to. Cars drive by and spray smoke all over the atmosphere; it doesn't mean we are going to ban cars. Also, my opponent has yet to answer my Electronic Cigarettes alternative, which produces no secondhand smoke.

Right to smoke:
Heroin can be overdosed very easily, which leads to death. Long time users develop a tolerance for it, to a degree where the user needs to inject have amounts just to feel "normal". People do not overdose on nicotine, and neither does cigarette have nearly the potency to do what heroine does.
I have already given my response as to why heroine is illegal in contrast to cigarettes. No one has ever overdosed on cigarettes, and the effects of cigarettes, which is at best, a "buzz". In the case of heroine, you feel something completely different that is incomparable to cigarettes. This is why heroine is illegal, while cigarettes remain legal.

Prohibition:
"Also, keep in mind that unlike alcohol, which is usually consumed once a day, at night, inside a building, cigarettes are usually consumed multiple times a day, outside."
Many smokers smoke indoors, in the privacy and comfort of their homes.
My opponent asserts that quitting cigarettes is no easy deal, and yet he believes that all it will take to make people quit is to simply ban them. If it were that easy, there would be no crimes regarding drugs. Which brings me back to my initial point that banning cigarettes has no guarantee that smokers will quit.

$7.18
My argument was that there are things that we spend money on that we don't agree on, such as the wars in the Middle East, along numerous others. My opponent might not agree with how his tax dollars are spent, but we must remember that there are those who do agree with them.

"My opponent must mis-cite his source (his #4), because I can't find any reference to tax dollars, but I also assume that $157 billion a year is much more than what he is referencing."
I cited source #4 in reference to the amount of tax that is wasted.

Employment
My opponent has no answers for the unemployment that banning cigarettes would cause, such as the damage to tobacco farmers and cigarette companies, which harbor innumerable employees.

My summary will be extended with additional details,
In summary, banning cigarettes won't make people quit. If anything, it will become "cool" and more daring to try, especially for teens, which is counterproductive. At the same time, we lose all tax revenue from cigarettes, if we were to ban the product, while still having to pay for loss productivity and smoking related illnesses, in the case that cigarettes are banned, and smokers continue to smoke. Not to mention, myriads would be unemployed as a result. All of us are accountable for the choices we make in our lives, some choices will be bad, others good. It is ideal to make only good choices in life, but once we start enforcing the "good" choices, we have no choices to make at all. Regarding my opponent's objection that smoking is not a choice, if a smoker really wants to quit, they can do it. There are numerous ex-smokers, who CHOSE to quit.

I thank my opponent for a good debate, and leave the rest to the voters.

Sources:
[1] http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov...
bluesteel

Pro

I'm new to this site, but it's my understanding that the instigator has the burden of proof. In this round, many of my opponent's arguments hinge on the fact that cigarettes are currently legal. If we pretended that the U.S. had no current policy on cigarettes and were debating whether legality did more good than harm, my opponent's case would be found wanting. As such, I believe that you should use a utilitarian framework when weighing this round: which policy does the greatest good for the greatest number of people?

My opponent's case came down to three things:

1. Prohibition's failure

I've refuted this at length by showing that Prohibition failed because 70% of Americans drank and there was a populist backlash against the law because no one wanted to quit drinking. There will be no populist backlash against a cigarette ban because cigarette users are a smaller group, most of whom want to quit (Gallup: 3 of 4 smokers want to quit). Also, it was easy to hide the speakeasies because people would hide in an underground bar at night to drink. Smokers cannot hide their habit at work, where they cannot smoke indoors and cannot smoke outdoors without fear of getting caught. Going 8 hours a day without smoking is excruciating if you're addicted; it would be easier just to quit, than to force yourself to smoke only at morning and at night.

2. Economy

My opponent points out that smoking is a $2 billion industry. This is always going to be outweighed by the costs to society of smoking in terms of productivity losses and higher health care costs, which is $157 billion a year. And don't forget opportunity cost – tobacco executives might be put to much better use running solar power companies. The tobacco farmland may be put to better use growing switchgrass for ethanol. An end to smoking does not spell an end to these people's lives – there are other options out there for them.

3. It's A Right

To win that there's a basic right to smoke, my opponent would have to answer my arguments that the government can take away a right when the right impinges on the rights of others, such as the right not to be exposed to secondhand smoke and the right not to pay for smokers health care costs through higher premiums for everyone. My opponent concedes that the government can take away the "right" to do heroin.

My opponent points out that heroin can kill you. My opponent therefore concedes that the paternalism principle (passing a law to protect people from themselves) is a legitimate reason to create a law. Even though cigarettes stop short of killing people all in one dose, that doesn't mean that the government cannot employ the paternalism principle in this case as well.

I wish we'd stop referring to it as the "right" to smoke. It's not a right guaranteed to us anywhere in U.S. law. It's not hiding somewhere in the First Amendment.

I believe for the above reasons that my opponent's case fails the burden of proof and fails to justify why a law that makes smoking legal is a good idea for society.

(Note on the mis-cited #4 source. Go to the source website – the word "tax" does not appear)

Moving back to my own case:

1. Economy

Productivity losses and higher health care costs from smoking add up to $157 billion a year or $7.18 per pack. My opponent keeps bring up how productivity means we should ban bad foods, but the reason we don't ban "bad foods" is that no type of food is categorically bad. Even McDonald's in moderation can be part of a healthy diet (Jamie Oliver). Cigarettes cannot be part of a healthy anything – moderation doesn't matter, exercise doesn't mitigate smoking. If McDonald's burgers put tar in your lungs and contained cyanide, they would be banned too.

My opponent's main response to health care is that we pay for things we don't agree with, like the wars in the Middle East (his most recent example). We pay taxes to go towards things that benefit all of us (whether or not we agree with those things). The wars in the Middle East promise to increase global security and decrease terrorism, both of which benefit all U.S. citizens and thus justify the use of tax dollars. Cigarettes do not benefit all. Non-smokers pay $7.18 per pack, but gain no benefits from smoking.

2. Lives

It's never been refuted that a smoking ban could save 440,000 lives per year. Three fourths of those people want to quit but need more motivation.

Also, a ban ends the problems associated with secondhand smoke. The electronic smokeless cigarette does not solve this problem considering that so few smokers employ this device. There are other carcinogens in the air, but none as concentrated or poisonous as cigarette smoke. Remember that any exposure to secondhand smoke as a child doubles your risk of cancer as an adult.

3. Marketing to kids

Cigarette companies claim not to market to kids, but check out this picture:

http://nicotinetimes.com...

It looks just like a tic-tac.

Allison Ellis of Targeting Kids says, "Is there anything about this product that isn't designed with kids in mind? Let's see… the candy-like flavor? The youthful colors and packaging? The cute camel silhouette?" [1]

Each ad they see makes kids 182% more likely to smoke. If smoking were a clear-cut choice, everyone would have made up their minds and not be swayed by advertising.

Yes, lots of kids have "tried" marijuana once. That's very different from getting hooked on cigarettes for the rest of your life. Marijuana, lacking nicotine, does not have the same staying power.

90% of people start smoking as kids. Isn't there something wrong with a product when adults cannot be convinced to use it – only kids can?

I love this Truth campaign PSA I saw today: http://shardsofglass.com...

Watch the first video now if you don't want spoilers. It shows an executive announcing that his Shards of Glass products are being recalled because they are "addictive and deadly when used correctly." What other product would we allow this with? When cigarettes were first put on the market, we were told they were safe - the tobacco industry later set up a scientific research institute to prove as much. When we found out that they were "addictive and deadly when used correctly," why were they not recalled or banned, like any other product would be? Would we allow ice cream pops with shards of glass in them to stay on the market? Then why cigarettes?

In conclusion, banning cigarettes would achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of people. It would add $157 billion to our economy by increasing our nation's productivity and decreasing our health care costs. It would end the unfair practice of non-smokers being charged $7.18 for each pack that smokers choose to buy. A ban would save countless lives and end the problems associated with secondhand smoke. A ban would be the impetus that smokers need to quit, considering that 3 out of 4 smokers say that they would love to quit if given the proper motivation.

What other product is on the market where 75% percent of its users say that they want to stop using it but feel like they can't? Why are cigarette companies so ineffective at convincing adults to start smoking? (adults are only 10% of "new smokers") It's because cigarettes are a product that by all sane metrics does not belong on the market. We should have issued a recall on all cigarettes ages ago. It's high time to do the right thing.

Affirmed

I thank my opponent for an intriguing debate

[1] http://www.shapingyouth.org...
Debate Round No. 4
42 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bluesteel 3 years ago
bluesteel
Health insurance companies have used the same doctrine to deny treatment to many people. Michael Moore's Sicko shows a woman who had a life-saving procedure denied because she "failed to disclose" a yeast infection (she actually forgot about it since it's not exactly a serious medical condition). Laws are being created across the country to stop this practice of retro-active cancellation of coverage. Some health insurance companies used to have entire departments devoted to trying to find minor things that people failed to disclose so coverage could be denied.
Posted by LaissezFaire 3 years ago
LaissezFaire
If the user signed a contract saying that they didn't use drugs, and the insurance company gave them a service at a certain price on the basis of that lie, the drug user committed fraud and should face the penalties for that. Of course, most illegal drug users don't have much more health problems than non-users (http://www.debate.org...). Cocaine and meth users probably would, but heroin and marijuana users, for example, would not.
Posted by bluesteel 3 years ago
bluesteel
That seems harsh when something like a heart attack could be linked to cocaine usage. But it also might not be.

Would they charge them all the monthly premiums they missed from lying?
Posted by J.Kenyon 3 years ago
J.Kenyon
...which would also provide a strong disincentive for drug users.
Posted by LaissezFaire 3 years ago
LaissezFaire
Health insurers could simply refuse to pay for drug related health problems if someone tests positive for a drug while in a hospital, or only pay for them if the user agreed to pay the higher premium for being a drug user.
Posted by bluesteel 3 years ago
bluesteel
Higher health care costs are passed on to non-users through higher overall premiums (cocaine for example causes heart problems). When total health care costs rise, insurance companies charge everyone more. Health insurance companies should charge drug users higher premiums, but unfortunately, as Dr. Gregory House is fond of saying, "Everybody lies."
Posted by LaissezFaire 3 years ago
LaissezFaire
The Portugal study is here (http://www.cato.org...) if you want to read more.

The effects on productivity would be nothing. Looking at the actual studies behind the numbers the government publishes ($100 billion or something like that), they might as well be completely made up. I mean that literally. You'd get a more accurate answer pulling a dollar figure out of a hat. As for health care costs, those are mostly caused by the fact that drugs are on the black market. There would likely be increased health care costs overall, but those costs aren't necessarily the problem of anyone but the user. They are in the current system, but that's a problem with the system, not with drugs. Anyway, even if costs are passed on to society, I still don't think it can justify the black market that high taxes would create and the resulting lives lost.
Posted by bluesteel 3 years ago
bluesteel
I'll check the book out. Portugal - great example that I didn't know about.

To answer your question: I just don't want to see a huge increase in drug use because of the effects it would have on productivity and health care costs. Same reason I wouldn't agree with a policy that resulted in a huge increase in cigarette usage.
Posted by LaissezFaire 3 years ago
LaissezFaire
If you'd be willing to buy and read a book on the subject, I'd highly recommend The Case for Legalizing Drugs (http://www.amazon.com...). I guarantee that if you read that book you will change your mind on this issue.
Posted by LaissezFaire 3 years ago
LaissezFaire
Marijuana IS a lot cheaper in Amsterdam. I'm basing those estimates off of studies by RAND and other think tanks about what would happen if drugs were legalized. In a free market, the price would be only slightly higher than the cost of production.

First, while I'm not familiar with that particular study, the fact that the statistic is mentioned on the DEA website is pretty strong evidence that it's either the study is either complete BS, or the DEA misrepresented the results of the study. Almost every single thing on that page, and the other 9 "fact" pages, is either a blatant lie or a deliberate misrepresentation.

But say the study actually did say that. I would say that their study is a complete load of sh­it, and that everyone that contributed to it should have their doctorates taken away for such academic dishonesty. Look at the price of drug use. Not just the monetary price, but all of the costs, which would also include risk of jail time and the damage to one's body. Surely, if your theory of drug use was correct, reducing the price of drug use, either through reducing the monetary price or the jail time, use would increase. But in Portugal, when drugs were decriminalized and the jail part of the price was removed, hard drug use stayed constant over the next decade.

Why exactly would the cartels want to take over Mexico if the Mexican government was being lax on enforcement? They'd already have exactly what they want, why would they bother? As for them potentially having the power to take over the entire country some time in the future--that's the situation now. They have taken over the entire country.

Finally, you haven't answered one of my questions. Why do you see decreased drug use as a desirable goal, one that is so important that it justifies the creation of a black market?
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