The Instigator
RoyalFlush100
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Death23
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points

It Should be Illegal to Smoke on Public Property in the United States

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Death23
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/24/2015 Category: Society
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 886 times Debate No: 72268
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)

 

RoyalFlush100

Pro

For the purpose of the debate laws exist to: "protect our general safety, and ensure our rights as citizens against abuses by other people, by organizations, and by the government itself." (1)

First round is acceptance only. Con cannot make any new arguments in the final round, as Pro has no chance to rebut them.

1-http://judiciallearningcenter.org...
Death23

Con

I accept this debate.
Debate Round No. 1
RoyalFlush100

Pro

Premise:
The United States Declaration of Independence declares "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" as "unalienable Rights". (1) Allowing smoking in public places violates one's right to life, while not harming the smoker's liberty.

Constructive:
There is wide evidence that proves that second hand smoke can cause cancers and other diseases. (2) Even in small amounts second hand smoke is found to harmful and there is no safe amount that one can be exposed to. (2) Therefore, smoking on public property exposes non-smokers to something that violates thousands of American's unalienable right to life each year. (3)

One may say banning someone's right to smoke on public property violates the smoker's liberty, but that is simply not true. Liberty is legally defined as "freedom from restraint and the power to follow one's own will to choose a course of conduct. Liberty, like freedom, has its inherent restraint to act without harm to others and within the accepted rules of conduct for the benefit of the general public." (4) Therefore, for something to be protected by the right to liberty, it cannot harm others, and as proven above exposing people to second hand smoke does indeed harm others.

Therefore, laws should be put in place that ban smoking on public property because it harms people's general safety and endangers their right to life as citizens.

1-http://www.archives.gov...
2-http://www.cancer.org...
3-http://www.no-smoke.org...
4-http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com...
Death23

Con

This proposal is unreasonably restrictive, and foe's central argument in support of this proposal is based on an inaccurate factual assertion.

First, foe supports the proposal by arguing that the safety of the public is jeopardized by second hand smoke on public property. Foe's argument is premised on his or her assertion that "there is no safe amount [of second hand smoke] that one can be exposed to." Not only has foe not established this fact with evidence, but there is evidence to the contrary.

The magnitude of the risk from exposure to tobacco smoke is correlated with the amount of tobacco smoke that one has been exposed to. [1][2] Stated differently, the more smoke one breathes in, the greater the risk to one"s health. Logic dictates that the converse is also true - The less smoke one breathes in, the lower the risk to one's health. At some point, one's level of exposure becomes minimal and the corresponding risk to become negligible. At that point the level of exposure can reasonably be considered safe. I'm not going to assert specifically at what point that is, but I will assert that the amount of second hand smoke encountered on public properties and public easements such as sidewalks, parking lots for government buildings, and city parks, etc. isn't substantial enough to jeopardize public health.

This assertion is substantiated by studies which indicate low risk from levels of exposure to tobacco smoke which greatly exceed the levels encountered casually on public property. A man who smokes until age 30, but no more after that age, avoids almost all the risk related to exposure to tobacco smoke [2 - See Conclusion - "cessation at age 30 avoided almost all of it"]. For exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS aka second hand smoke), multiple studies indicate that one must be exposed to upwards of 15 years of working in a smoky workplace or residing in a smoky residence before any statistically significant increase in risk becomes measurable [3 - pages 164-167 / 5-40 - 5-43] Given this evidence, and foe's lack of evidence, it strains one's credulity to accept foe's assertion that minimal exposure to second hand smoke encountered outside on public properties is significant enough to reasonably be considered hazardous or unsafe. There isn't enough exposure from this source to jeopardize one's health.

However, this isn't the only reason to foe's argument is unconvincing - Foe doesn't appreciate the that the proposal is too imprecise. The proposal would restrict smoking in places where there would be no meaningful impact on second hand smoke exposure, and the proposal would permit smoking in places where the exposure to second hand smoke is problematic. "All public property in the United States" would necessarily include all federally and state owned land, which comprises the majority of the land in many states. [6] The proposal would not include areas of private property used by the public, such as door ways for grocery stores, convenience stores, and restaurants. The proposal would restrict smoking in areas where the smoker is the only person there but nonetheless is on public property, such as the middle of the Nevada desert or remote locations in Alaska.

Additionally, Foe doesn't seem to appreciate the value there is in allowing people to smoke on public properties. Whether we like it or not, adult smokers represent a substantial portion of the American population, numbering at 42.1 million [4] out of a population of approximately 320 million [5]. Many of them enjoy smoking, and we shouldn't restrict their ability to do so without a good reason.

Sources:

1 - Mortality in relation to smoking: 50 years' observations on male British doctors - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...

2 - The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...

3 - Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders - http://oaspub.epa.gov...

4 - Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States - http://www.cdc.gov...

5 - U.S. and World Population Clock - http://www.census.gov...

6 - Federal and State Controlled Land - http://www.americaplundered.com...
Debate Round No. 2
RoyalFlush100

Pro

The evidence came from a study from the US Surgeon General's Report, which was cited in my previous argument.

Obviously the less smoke you breathe in the less of an effect it willl have, but Con asserts that there is a safe amount that can be taken it. Con asserts that one will never be exposed to the amount of smoke to do enough damage. This does go against the findings of the US Surgeon General Report. Not to mention, further reserach was conducted and even the gaseous phase of cigarette smoke contains reactive oxygen species (a cancer-causing agent) inhibits normal cell function. (1) The study itself found that being exposed to only 2 cigarettes is enough to stop the function of a cell's sodium pump. (1) According to Dr.Rajasekaran regarding the study "We now know that one need not inhale the particulate matter present in secondhand smoke to suffer the consequence of smoking. Exposure to the gaseous substance alone, which you breathe while standing near a smoker, is sufficient to cause harm." (1) The level to which this can be harmful is unknown at this point, but there is no reason to allow this to be done on public property where it can be dangerous to one's health. Not to mention, there's no reason to assume that there won't potentially be a lot of people smoking on public property and if a person comes to the area enough, it could be harmful in the long run.

We also don't know what the future of cigarette smoke could hold. It could become much more dangerous in the future. Cigarettes have already become more deadly in the past 50 years and could easily become more of a health risk. (2)

If there is no one around, there is no reason to assume the law will be enforced, much in the same way speed limits aren't enforced when no one is around.

The amount of people who smoke cigarettes is irrelevent if it is a danger to public health.

1-http://www.sciencedaily.com...
2-http://www.tobaccofreekids.org...
Death23

Con

RE: "Con asserts that one will never be exposed to the amount of smoke to do enough damage."

This was not asserted. The assertion was that "the amount of second hand smoke encountered on public properties and public easements such as sidewalks, parking lots for government buildings, and city parks, etc. isn't substantial enough to jeopardize public health."

RE: "The evidence came from a study from the US Surgeon General's Report, which was cited in my previous argument."

My apologies for overlooking the relevant text when I first perused the sources. I have found it now.

Foe's argument in support of this proposal is largely based on his assertion that "there is no safe amount [of secondhand smoke] that one can be exposed to". Contrary to foe's claim that this assertion is based on evidence that "came from a study from the US Surgeon General's Report", foe's assertion is based on a paraphrased version of a finding of the Surgeon General from a Cancer.org article titled "Secondhand Smoke". For reasons discussed below, the paraphrased version of the Surgeon General's conclusion found within the Cancer.org article is bad evidence and should be disregarded.

The Cancer.org article stated that the Surgeon General found as follows:

"There is no safe level of exposure to SHS" [1 - (SHS presumably means secondhand smoke) - emphasis added]

This was not a finding of the Surgeon General. In fact, the Surgeon General never concluded in any report that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. The relevant finding of the Surgeon General was from the "Major Conclusions" section of the 2006 Surgeon General's Report: "The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke." Here are the Surgeon General's words -

"... there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke." [2 - Page 11 - emphasis added]

Given that this statement was one of the "Major Conclusions" of the Surgeon General's report, it's reasonable to assume that the words were chosen very carefully. The Surgeon General did not use the word "safe." The term used by the Surgeon General was "risk-free". "Risk-free" and "safe" do not have the same meaning and are not inter-changeable. "Risk-free" means absolutely zero risk. "Safe" is a qualitative term that does not mean absolutely zero risk - There are many safe activities which are not risk-free activities. (e.g. Absent unusually hazardous road conditions, it is safe to drive a mile or so to the local post office even though there is the risk of a car accident). To replace the term "risk-free" with the word "safe", as Cancer.org apparently did, is to insert a judgment in to the Surgeon General's report that the Surgeon General did not make. Replacing the term "risk-free" with the word "safe" significantly alters the meaning of the Surgeon General's conclusion. For this reason, the inaccurately paraphrased version of the Surgeon General's conclusion found in the Cancer.org article "Secondhand Smoke" is bad evidence and should be disregarded.

Given that the Cancer.org article was the only evidence foe presented in support of his or her assertion that "there is no safe amount [of secondhand smoke] that one can be exposed to", foe has not demonstrated that the level of exposure to secondhand smoke occurring outside on public property jeopardizes public health in any significant manner.

I agree with the Surgeon General's conclusion that "there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke" [2 - page 11 - emphasis added]. However, I still assert that there is a safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. (To help illustrate: Because of the risk of falling down, there is no risk-free walk from the bedroom to the kitchen. Yet, it is safe to walk from the bedroom to the kitchen.) Contrary to foe's claim that this assertion goes "against the findings of the US Surgeon General Report", this assertion is not inconsistent with the Surgeon General's conclusion. It is, however, inconsistent with Cancer.org's paraphrased version of the Surgeon General's conclusion.

I am sure that no reasonable person would dispute that inhaling and exhaling a single molecule of each chemical found in second hand smoke is a safe level of exposure. Scale up this infinitesimal level of exposure to, for example, one milliliter of second hand smoke. Scale the example up further to one liter, to thousands of liters, to millions, and the level of exposure becomes unsafe at some point. At what point that is, I do not know. However, the available evidence indicates that the point at which the level of exposure becomes unsafe is significantly beyond the level of exposure typically encountered outside on public property in the United States. (See debate round 1, ¶ 4)

This is especially true given the differences between indoors and outdoors. Consider that there are typically air currents which carry the smoke away from the smoker. The smoke will mix with the air and become diluted. Smoke typically rises up in to the sky since it is hot. Contrast this with indoor smoking where the smoke cannot escape beyond the ceiling and lingers in rooms for hours and even days. Consider also that people outside are typically traveling from one point to another, and do not inhale secondhand smoke for extended periods of time. Indoors, people will breathe the same air over and over for extended periods of time. Given these differences, it doesn't take much imagination to understand that outdoor smoking causes a much lower level of exposure to secondhand smoke compared to indoor smoking. It is difficult to understand why it is reasonably necessary to prohibit smoking outdoors when, according to the Surgeon General, "[e]liminating smoking in indoor spaces fully protects nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke." [2 - page 11]

It isn't clear what assertion foe's reference to the Science Daily article is supposed to support or how it would support any of foe's assertions. The study doesn't appear to be related to the degree of risk from exposure to secondhand smoke outdoors. Rather, the study was about how the sodium pumps of cell cultures respond to the presence of cigarette smoke. The significance of reduced sodium pump function is unclear. ("more research is needed to understand the consequences of sodium pump inhibition by cigarette smoke" [3 - final paragraph from article]

Additionally, foe's appeal to the fear of the unknown is not convincing. ("The level to which this can be harmful is unknown... "; "... it can be dangerous to one's health."; "it could be harmful in the long run."; "We also don't know what the future of cigarette smoke could hold."; "... could easily become more of a health risk." - italics added) Sound public policy must be grounded in established facts, not fear.

Furthermore, foe presents a woefully inadequate solution the problem that banning smoking on all public property in the United States would restrict smoking in remote locations such as the middle of the Nevada desert. Foe's solution is "[i]f there is no one around, there is no reason to assume the law will be enforced". This is not a reasonable solution. A more reasonable position would be to reject the proposal as unreasonably restrictive.

Sources -

1 - Secondhand Smoke - http://www.cancer.org...

2 - The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke - http://www.surgeongeneral.gov...

3 - New evidence of harmfulness of second-hand smoke: Cancer causing agent present in gaseous phase of cigarette smoke - http://www.sciencedaily.com...
Debate Round No. 3
RoyalFlush100

Pro

Just a quick reminder to my opponent, you won't be able to create any new arguments next round, just rebut to any claims made.

Con asserts that second hand smoke inhaled outside on public property is safe, even if there is a slight amount of risk. He goes to the conclusion of the US Surgeon General Report, but in the report it is also said " The evidence for underlying mechanisms of respiratory injury from exposure to secondhand smoke suggests that a safe level of exposure may not exist" (1) Not to mention, the Surgeon General Report also referred to there being no safe level of second hand smoke in their follow up release "The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: Secondhand Smoke and What It Means to You", saying, "There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke." (2) However, a more convincing claim was in the actual report when they claimed "For infants, children, and adults with asthma or with more sensitive respiratory systems, even very brief exposures to secondhand smoke can trigger intense bronchopulmonary responses that could be life threatening in the most susceptible individuals." (1) So, even if Con's assertion was correct that most people can't be overly harmed by brief intakes of secondhand smoke, there is a minority that could see major health problems from having more smoke in the air.

Con then asserts that outdoor smoking has little risk because air currents carry the smoke away, as it dilutes and therefore is not overly harmful. However, a study by Stanford University showed that inhaling smoke in the air can be much like inhaling smoke indoors. Wayne Ott who helped run the study said "if you're at a sidewalk caf", and you sit within 18 inches of a person who smokes two cigarettes over the course of an hour, your exposure to secondhand smoke could be the same as if you sat one hour inside a tavern with smokers. Based on our findings, a child in close proximity to adult smokers at a backyard party also could receive substantial exposure to secondhand smoke." (3) Therefore, this study shows that it can be just as dangerous to be with someone smoking outside as it is inside, which following the logic quoted by Con from the Surgeon General Report ("[e]liminating smoking in indoor spaces fully protects nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke."), then smoking on outdoor public property should be eliminated. Also, one has to account for all the indoor buildings that are public property, that people work in. (4)

The Science Daily article shows that merely being around someone smoking can cause harm, as "Exposure to the secondhand smoke produced by as little as two cigarettes was found to almost completely stop the function of a cell's sodium pump within a few hours." (5) Once again, reinforcing the idea that there is no safe level of exposure. Even though the exact level of harm is unknown, it is known that it is harmful, as "The competence of the cell's sodium pump, i.e., its inability to regulate sodium, is predictive of cell damage, disease progression and ultimately, survival." (5)

Not knowing the exact level of how harmful something is, but knowing it's harmful is not appealing to fear. Con himself did the opposite when he claimed he didn't know at what level second hand smoke becomes dangerous.

Same with saying something could be harmful in the long run. I was using Con's logic that the more frequently you're exposed to smoke, the more harmful it is. Therefore, in the scenario I suggested of a person who has to frequently go to an area with a lot of smoke, means by Con's logic could potentially be very harmful in the long run. For example, say someone has to ride public transit everyday to get to work and everyone smokes there.

Just because something's illegal doesn't mean it is enforced when there is nobody around to enforce it. However, if someone is around, it becomes a health risk as explained above.

To conclude, second hand smoke poses multiple health risks in any environment, so therefore it should be illegal to smoke on public property, because being a potentially lethal health risk, it violates one's unalienable right to life.

1-http://www.surgeongeneral.gov...
2-http://www.surgeongeneral.gov...
3-http://news.stanford.edu...
4-http://www.wisegeek.org...
5-http://www.sciencedaily.com...
Death23

Con

RE: "you won't be able to create any new arguments next round, just rebut to any claims made." This was not the agreed rule. The following was the agreed rule: "Con cannot make any new arguments in the final round, as Pro has no chance to rebut them." (See round 1) The rule was not to confine discussion to rebuttal only on the final round, but to not create any new arguments. This round I will be restating my prior argument from rounds 2 and 3 that the proposal is unreasonably restrictive and I will be rebutting foe's position regarding banning smoking at remote locations.

I will not discuss nor address any of foe's new evidence because it is burdensome to do so and there is a quicker method of resolving this debate that makes any inquiry in to the evidence moot. This brings me to my main point -

EVEN IF WE ACCEPT AS TRUE FOE'S ASSERTION THAT THERE IS NO SAFE LEVEL OF EXPOSURE TO SECONDHAND SMOKE, THIS PROPOSAL SHOULD STILL BE REJECTED AS UNREASONABLY RESTRICTIVE

This is the proposal:

"It Should be Illegal to Smoke on Public Property in the United States"

This proposal includes all public property (i.e., presumably any real estate that is owned by any government entity). This proposal would ban smoking in too many locations where the smoker does not cause any other person any risk of exposure to secondhand smoke. Many of these locations could be listed, but a look at this map of state and federally owned lands should make the issue clear:

http://www.americaplundered.com...

This proposal goes too far. There are reasonable alternatives other than this proposal that could address foe's safety concerns without unnecessarily banning smoking in areas where no risk of exposure to secondhand smoke would occur. In fact, many outdoor smoking bans have already been enacted which prohibit smoking at locations where there is a significant probability of exposure to secondhand smoke. For example, in California it is illegal to smoke "within 20 feet of a main exit, entrance, or operable window of a public building". [1] In Beverly Hills, smoking "is prohibited in all open air dining areas" and "within five feet (5') of an open air dining area, except while actively passing on the way to another destination." [2] In Santa Monica it is illegal to smoke "[w]ithin twenty feet of the entrance, exit or open window of any building open to the public" or "[a]ny farmer's market", among other locations. [3] More of these smoking bans could be listed, but these examples should suffice to show that there are reasonable alternatives.


FOE HAS NOT PRESENTED ANY REASON AS TO WHY IT IS NECESSARY TO BAN SMOKING AT LOCATIONS ON PUBLIC PROPERTY WHERE THE SMOKER CAUSES NO OTHER PERSON ANY RISK OF EXPOSURE TO SECONDHAND SMOKE

Foe has avoided any meaningful discussion of this problem in every round. These are foe's words regarding this problem:

Round 1: Acceptance only / No arguments

Round 2: No discussion of this problem

Round 3: "If there is no one around, there is no reason to assume the law will be enforced, much in the same way speed limits aren't enforced when no one is around."

Round 4: "Just because something's illegal doesn't mean it is enforced when there is nobody around to enforce it. However, if someone is around, it becomes a health risk as explained above."

Foe's solution to this problem is unrealistic, unsatisfactory, and cavalier. Foe's response to this problem seems to be to acknowledge that it isn't necessary to ban smoking at locations on public property where there is no risk of exposure, but it wouldn't be that bad if we did it anyway because there's no chance that people who smoke in these areas would get caught.

Foe is wrong. People could and would be penalized for smoking at locations where they cause no other person any risk of exposure but just so happen to be on public property. This is largely because the range of a law enforcement officer's (LEO) vision is much greater than the range of secondhand smoke. Foe's own evidence indicates that when one is as little as 6 feet from a smoker, the level of exposure diminishes substantially. [4 - "If there's just one smoker, and you can sit six feet away, you would have little problem."; "Our data also show that if you move about six feet away from an outdoor smoker, your exposure levels are much lower"] Someone who, for example, is smoking alone on the side of a rural road would likely be in violation of this proposed smoking ban because roads are typically owned by public entities. Suppose that there just happened to be an LEO who saw this person smoking from 100 feet away. It would then be at the discretion of this LEO as to whether or not this person would be subjected to criminal and/or civil penalties for benign behavior. Abuse of LEO discretion has occurred in the past, and would occur pursuant to this proposal if it were adopted. We should not adopt proposals that give LEOs the ability to whimsically subject people to civil or criminal penalties for harmless behavior. This proposal would do exactly that.

Sources -

1 - California Government Code § 7597 - http://www.leginfo.ca.gov...

2 - Beverly Hills Municipal Code § 5-4-2 - http://www.sterlingcodifiers.com...

3 - Santa Monica Municipal Code § 4.44.020 - http://www.qcode.us...

4 - "Exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke in outdoor settings a risk, study shows" - http://news.stanford.edu...

Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by RoyalFlush100 2 years ago
RoyalFlush100
@Gabe1e Basically, but a lot of people think it should be legal.
Posted by Rainleaf 2 years ago
Rainleaf
It should be illegal. People, innocent people (non-smokers) can get cancer from second-hand smoke. It is ridiculous that people can sit outside of public buildings and smoke freely. It is disgusting and unhygienic.
Posted by Gabe1e 2 years ago
Gabe1e
Isn't it already illegal to smoke in public areas?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by tejretics 2 years ago
tejretics
RoyalFlush100Death23Tied
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Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
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Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro made solely *bare assertions*, and made irrelevant arguments on how to enforce the illegality of smoking on public property in the US. Pro did not provide *reasons* for the same, while Con's arguments relating to the morality of smoking were unrefuted by Pro with *no* discussion on the topic whatsoever. Con's conclusion was accurate in describing Pro's flawed structure of arguments.