Resolved: The US Federal Government ought to Implement a Ban on Smoking
Debate Rounds (4)
Smoking Ban: "A national ban on smoking"
Ban: "to prohibit, forbid, or bar;"
Smoking: this debate rest on cigarette smoking.
National: The United States of America.
72hrs/6,000 Characters/select winner
1st round: acceptance
2nd round: opening arguments
3rd round: rebuttals
4th round: summary, no new arguments.
Thank you Danielle for accepting this debate.
Resolved: The US Federal Government ought to Implement a Ban on Smoking
In order to determine what the US Federal Government ought to do, we must first determine what the role of government in society ought to be. In the United States, the purpose of the government is found within the preamble of the U.S. Constitution. While some may view parts of the Constitution as arcane or dated, the preamble seems to clearly articulate the role proper role of Government.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
With this basic understanding of the purpose of government, two of the purposes listed above seem to pertain to the topic at hand. They are namely, promoting the general welfare and securing the blessings of liberty. Moreover, there is a clear and effective way that governments can succeed in both duties. This is done through the Harm Principle.
John Stuart Mill, whose likeness is my avatar here on DDO, is often attributed with what is known as the harm principle. This principle holds that "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others." (1)
Cigarette smoking is responsible for one out of every five deaths in the U.S. annually. Understand that this harm is not only self-inflicted as 41,000 deaths annually are the result of secondhand smoking. Consequently, it has been found that if the current rate continues “5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 years of age are expected to die prematurely from a smoking-related illness. (2) Furthermore, it has been found that significant harm is done to those who live, or work, with people who smoke. (3) Accordingly, it has been found that smoking bans lower if not remove the harms of smoking. Perhaps this is why The National Cancer Institute, Surgeon General of the United States and National Institutes of Health all support smoking bans. (3)
In this round I have claimed that cigarette smoking causes significant harm to the general welfare of the United States. This is warranted by the CDC which shows 1 in 5 deaths in the US are the result of smoking. By applying the harm principle we see it reasonable to restrict the personal liberty to smoke by implement a smoking ban. The impact of a smoking ban provides solvency as it reduces and potentially removes the harm of smoking, thus allowing the government to fill one of its primary functions to promote the general welfare.
The Role of Government
The Declaration of Independence reads: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
In A Letter Concerning Toleration, John Locke wrote that the magistrate's power was limited to preserving a person's "civil interest," which includes the possession of outward things . Indeed many political theorists and philosophers have agreed with this principle of non-aggression. In On Liberty, The harm principle formulated by John Stuart Mill states that "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."
Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
Over 40 million Americans smoke . People feel it is relaxing, fun, that it relieves stress, that it is comforting, it can be a fashion/social statement, they like the ritual, or they appreciate the immediate satisfaction.
It would be impossible and immoral for us to restrict everything that could potentially harm others. For instance, when we cut down trees or hurt the environment with cars and other pollutants, we impact the climate and affect the livelihood and/or future of every living thing on the planet. Therefore, government implements reasonable regulations that correlate with direct harm and violence.
The government has no right to legislate morality or good health, and it does not have the right to determine what people do with their own body. In fact the concept of bodily autonomy is the principle by which government has legalized abortion . It is a fundamental civil right.
If Pro disagrees with the concept of bodily autonomy, he would essentially be arguing that other people have the right to control your body against your will. That is a slippery slope toward permissible forced labor (slavery or pregnancy) and even rape. The principle of bodily autonomy guarantees ownership of our person and the protection against physical force or restraint against others that attempt to restrict our freedoms.
Private businesses and establishments can prohibit smoking in their areas, so people can still enjoy smoke-free environments. It will be up to the property owner to decide if they want to permit smoking there, and if patrons choose to avoid places where there is smoking, that is their choice. For example hotels have smoking and smoke-free rooms where guests can decide their preference.
"Since the 1970s, the non-smokers rights movement has made significant progress toward clean indoor air. As of April 4, 2016, there are 4,578 states, commonwealths, territories, and municipalities with laws in effect that restrict where smoking is allowed, many of which are 100% smoke-free... Across the United States, 22,578 municipalities representing 82% of the US population, are covered by a 100% smoke-free provision in non-hospitality workplaces, and/or restaurants, and/or bars, by either a state, commonwealth, territorial, or local law. 41 states and the District of Columbia have local laws in effect that require 100% smoke-free provisions as well" .
Second-hand smoke can be avoided; it's a non-issue. The government can and has implemented policy that prohibits people from smoking in public places where it could directly harm other people. Private homes and businesses should be legally permitted to allow smoking on their premises. People can avoid the places where they don't want to be exposed to smoke. Further, the government can put in laws to protect children from second-hand smoke, the way we have other laws that protect children whom can't escape their parents behavior.
Problems With Criminalization
If smoking were criminalized, cigarettes would be sold on the black market where they could not be regulated or taxed. This would increase the amount of cigarettes being sold to children since black market sales without regulation would be the norm. Criminals (gangsters) would get rich from selling tobacco underground, which would invoke a plethora of crime the way the Prohibition of alcohol did . More people would be going to jail and subsequently have their lives (and children's lives) ruined merely as a result of smoking cigarettes.
In 2009, states raked in more than $24 billion by taxing cigarettes and $8.8 billion in settlement payments from tobacco companies. "In Fiscal Year 2010, the federal excise tax on cigarettes (currently $1.01 per pack) brought in $15.5 billion in revenue. That money went to fund an expansion of the federal State Children"s Health Insurance (SCHIP) program, which provides funding to states for health insurance for families that do not qualify for Medicare, but are still considered of modest means" .
The government relies on the taxes from cigarette sales to fund a lot of social programs that benefit the poor and other people in society. As such, the government would have to raise taxes on other products if cigarettes were no longer available to tax in order to make up for the lost revenue. They were also completely unsuccessful at criminalizing alcohol, which is why the government ended Prohibition. The government needed tax money which is why they restored the legalization of alcohol . The same would likely happen with cigarettes.
The government realized that nobody actually stopped drinking under Prohibition; speakeasies and bootleg alcohol was the norm, along with criminals pushing alcohol all over the country like Al Capone. We have no reason to assume that we can effectively combat tobacco when we cannot effectively battle other criminalized substances. The War on Drugs has been a futile, expensive failure that costs tax payers billions and billions of dollars, and after 40 years still has no end in sight .
Thank you Danielle for your argument. I will address each point in turn.
Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
Con claims that because over 40 million people smoke, they must find it relaxing, fun, or somehow benificial. I have no doubts that there are people who do enjoy smoking. However, recent studies indicate that in the U.S. almost 70 percent, or 28 million of the 40 million smokers desire to quit despite many being uncessesfull in that endevor.(1) More than half of smokers do not find the so called benifits of smoking that my opponent claims copelling reasons to smoke. Con continues this arguement suggesting that it would be both impossible and immorall for us to restrict everything that could potentially harm others. This misses the mark, Smoking does not "potentially" harm others, it does harm others as I sourced from the CDC in the previous round, 1 in 50 deaths that happen in the U.S. are due to secondhand smoking. That is to say that the harm produced by smoking significantly harms others. Lastly con argues that the government has no right to legislate morality or good health. I have not argued that it does, I have argued, as has my opponent, the harm principle. Smoking clearly violates this harm and thus the government has every right via mine and my opponents criteria to restrict smoking.
Con here points out that our society does have many smoke free enviroments, and laws that restrict where smoking is allowed. What my opponent seems to ignore is that the harm that I have demonstrated smoking to cause is occuring despite all of these smoke free enviroments and smoking laws. This is why an outright ban ought to be seriously considered. Our society has attempted to mitigate the harm of smoking to great legnths just short of banning with limited sucess. The limit will remain until we ban smoking as a whole. To round out con's contention here. she erronously claims that "second-hand smoke can be avoided; it's a non-issue." If my opponent does not find nearly 50,000 deaths per year due to second hand smoke an issue, I am not sure what could be classified as an issue. Just to put this in perspective, 1,000 people die per year in the U.S. due to rape. That is about 2% the amount of deaths due to second-hand smoke. perhaps my opponent finds rape a non-issue as well. (2)
Problems with Criminalization
First, I would like to point out that I did not call for the "criminalization" of smoking, I argued it ought to be illegal. Speeding is illegal, but not criminalized. Only after we determine if something ought to be legal or illegal could we determine what reasonable recourse would be for those who violate the law. Thus this contention from my opponent actually is a non issue boarding a straw man.
It is highlited by con that a great amount of money comes into the U.S. due to the taxes placed on cigarettes. There are two reasons this arguement ought not be taken seriously. Firstly, the amount of money that can be made or lost is not how we determine laws. Murder could be taxed and make a great profit. Ought we legalize something simply because money can be made? Should me monotize human life? Furthermore, con aruges initially that we cant legislate morilty then seems to trumpet "sin taxes" in her case. Which is it? Is my opponent against sin taxes or legislating morality? It seems to me she is likely oppossed to sin taxes (though I invite her to correct me) and thus it seems hypocritical to then trumpet sin taxes as a benifit of there legality. This is because if we are to accept her arguements the government has not legal standing to tax people for smoking simply to discourage smoking. Secondly, who is to say a fee for violaters of a smoking ban would not bring in significant money, or that heaps of money would be saved due to diminishing medical costs in a society with smoking bans? Clearly, the is money to be made montizing a human life. That stated, there seems to me to be just as much money to be saved by cherishing human life.
Both my opponent and I agree on the harm principle. Oddly my opponent see's second-hand smoke as a non-issue dispite its obvious violation of the harm principle. Thus we can conclude that the government is more than justified to outlaw or ban smoking. All that is left of con's arguements is the financial plea. This is inconsitant with her initial position aside from being a way to monotize a human life. Remember nearly 50,000 people a year die due to second-hand smoke in the U.S. This is despite current attempts at Sin taxes, smoke free zones, and other deterents. The next logical, reasonable, and justified step to take is an outright ban on cigarettes.
Danielle forfeited this round.
Due to the forfieture I am going to waive this round so there is an even number.
Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
Pro never contests that our government allows for liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Instead, he claims that many smokers desire to quit. However this does not refute my claim. First, it does not address the component of liberty which is very significant. Second, smoking to provide immediate relief or satiate a craving does indeed provide happiness. Smokers enjoy their habit because it stimulates the flow of "feel good" chemicals in the brain .
We do not inhibit everything that is definitively harmful. I gave the example of cutting down trees. Other examples include sugar consumption, drinking and driving or sun tanning. We can take measures to minimize the harm or effects of the harm. For example while it's legal to drink alcohol and drive, we have laws about blood alcohol content (the highest allowed to drive legally) in order to minimize risk.
I've pointed out that laws can be implemented to reduce the impact of second-hand smoke. Pro said these laws are ineffective which is patently false. First, it should be noted that these laws are relatively new and thus Pro's statistics should be taken with a grain of salt. Second, the audience should acknowledge that barring second-hand smoke will quite obviously have an impact. After all, if people aren't exposed to the smoke, then they cannot be harmed by the smoke. This only makes perfect sense which is why so many studies confirm that to be true.
National and international studies have found substantial declines in cotinine, a marker of secondhand smoke, among the general public following the implementation of smokefree laws . This was not just found in one study cited here by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but by dozens. In 2003, a statewide comprehensive smokefree law prohibiting smoking in all indoor areas was implemented in New York. Research found that salivary cotinine levels among nonsmoking adults decreased by 47.4% within 1 year after the law took effect  Another study found that salivary cotinine levels among nonsmoking adult workers in the state decreased by 85% within 1 year after the law took effect . Those are HUGE differences.
In 2007, a similar smokefree law prohibiting smoking in all indoor areas was implemented in Minnesota. Research found that urine cotinine levels among nonsmoking employees there decreased by 80% within 1 to 2 months after the law took effect . Similar results were found in Michigan, Ireland, Scotland and England . Once again, these are SIGNIFICANT and favorable results.
In short, Pro is completely wrong that secondhand smoke laws do not protect people.
As I mentioned in previous rounds, the dangers of secondhand smoke are also exaggerated and misleading. A large-scale study found no clear link between secondhand smoke and lung cancer, undercutting the premise of years of litigation. "The article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute details a study of 76,000 women over more than a decade, which found the usual link between smoking and cancer... The study found no statistically significant relationship between lung cancer and exposure to passive smoke" .
Consider this: although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will tell you that secondhand smoke causes an estimated 3,400 lung cancer deaths among U.S. nonsmokers each year, scientists have long understood that the actual number might be closer to zero. "The basic problem is that the doses of carcinogens absorbed by nonsmokers are much lower than the doses absorbed by smokers, so any lung cancer risk would be correspondingly small and therefore hard to detect using the blunt tools of epidemiology" .
To be clear on this point, I am NOT saying that secondhand smoke is harmless.
I'm saying that the dangers have been greatly exaggerated, providing misleading data, and that protective laws ARE helpful.
Problems With Criminalization
Even the most basic penalties (fines) for smoking would be unjust based on my contentions.
My opponent disregards the argument of tax revenue from cigarettes. We don't base laws ONLY on revenue, but we DO very much consider the profitability of endeavors in determining their legal status. It is not the only consideration, but it is certainly a consideration. Thus "taxing murder" for profit is a fallacious analogy, but we do allow for other things to exist (despite their harm) on the basis of their money return, including legalized alcohol despite its significant danger that is greater than tobacco... which Pro completely dropped... and things like drilling for oil despite environmental harms. Please extend the argument on the significance of this revenue and cost of law enforcement, as well as the failure of the War on Drugs.
Pro suggests that I've been hypocritical in saying we cannot legislate morality, but then allow taxing cigarettes which counts as a form of legislation. This is wrong. We tax almost everything that gets sold in this country, so cigarettes are not an exception. Furthermore, taxing cigarettes at a higher rate can be justified by cigarette smokers costing society more money on medical care -- which means the tax levied against them is not based on morality, but on pragmatism that punishes smokers for their monetary burden, NOT their moral choices .
Pro dropped my arguments on bodily autonomy, the black market and crime related problems. Extend.
He also misrepresents my position on the harm principle. This standard seeks to ban things that create harm for others. Secondhand smoke bans can alleviate harm to others, as can the individual responsibility to not put one's self in harms way if they do not want to be exposed to smoke (and laws that protect children). Thus the principles of LIBERTY must prevail, even according to JSM's harm principle. Moreover, banning smoking (and the associated effects) can also be harmful to society as I have described.
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