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Should Smoking Be Illegal?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/7/2016 Category: Health
Updated: 4 months ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 413 times Debate No: 92474
Debate Rounds (5)
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Votes (2)




Smoking should be illegal because 6 million people die from it. That"s one death in ten seconds. Think about it; when will it be your turn? A good counter-argument is, "Those 6 million people chose to kill themselves. Let them do it. It is their right." This can be countered by the fact that those who choose to put their lives in danger might as well just break the law. The "smart" people will just avoid smoking. Also, peer pressure to smoke will not be present anymore, because you can come up with a simple excuse that it"s against the law. And what about secondhand smoke? Not happening anymore. The people who cause secondhand smoke to unwary pedestrians will easily get caught and sent to jail. The people who sell smoke in the black market will, of course, will show many symptoms, and that will make them be sent to jail as a smoker. You don"t have to be a surgeon, a detective, or a rocket scientist to figure out some people are smoking and that is against the law. Their hair will smell bad, their teeth will be yellow, they will have some kind of gum disease, and they will probably have lung cancer. If you choose to stay hidden and smoking for the rest of your life, they why not just do it? Who cares if the government loses billions of dollars? Aren"t you allowing more people to go to work and be alive and pay tax? Even if you have to raise all tax by 1%, it is much better than getting the money from a drug company. Another good argument against this is that people on an addict already will continue to smoke and it is unfair if they have to go through the pain of breaking the addict. There are easy ways to see how long the person has been smoking and that the "old" symptoms will have therapy to remove the addict. Even if it is still unfair, well, first, life isn"t unfair, and second, when you picked up the cigarette, you were risking that smoking would soon be outlawed and that you might get in jail for it. We can warn all the previous smokers to go to the nearest police office to get their addict removed, or get in jail if caught and not by turning themselves in. Besides, smoking is worse than some drugs. If you quit smoking, you will soon be able to control drinking alcohol. Those people who still don"t follow the rule will get the same penalty, and that is also leading to a better-health world. Plus, smoking also causes excessive pollution, and you can obviously outlaw something that doesn"t just adversely affect you, right? It"d be even better if all the tobacco fields were turned into mushroom farms--yes, mushroom farms.


I'll begin by pointing out that the government does not have the right to determine what people do with their own body. If women have the right to control their own bodies when it comes to pregnancy, why don't all people have the right to control their bodies when it comes to ingesting smoke? People have the right to choose to live in polluted areas where there is more smoke. People do (and should) have this freedom.

Our government protects our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (so long as we don't harm others). While the government has taken measures to protect innocent bystanders from the dangers of second-hand smoke, there is no reason for it to legislate a victimless crime such as making the personal decision to smoke on one's own property.

Pro must demonstrate that the government has the right to enact this kind of legislation, and then must prove why doing so would be a good idea when compared to the negatives. Keep in mind that the government already actively discourages smoking, for example by mandating the Surgeon General's warnings about the dangers of smoking on every cigarette package.

Pro brings up the fact that smoking kills about 6 million people per year (please source). It is my contention that freedom from the limitations of government tyranny is the benefit of not criminalizing smoking, and as such, the risks are acceptable because people willingly choose to smoke thereby willingly accept the personal risk.

Smoking is not an immediate threat, and not necessarily a fatal one. We do not criminalize all things that are harmful such as tanning salons despite the risk of skin cancer, or junk food and sugar despite the obesity epidemic.

Over 40 million Americans smoke cigarettes [1]. People find pleasure and enjoyment in smoking. They feel it is relaxing, that it is a fun social activity, that it relieves stress or anxiety, that it is comforting, they like the ritual or they appreciate the immediate satisfaction. Other people have different hobbies or pleasures, and some of those are dangerous. But none of that is our business.

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, and decrease the amount of collected government revenue. Pro suggests this isn't a big deal when in fact it is. It would either 1) increase the government deficit or 2) lead to a big increase in our taxes. By keeping cigarettes legal, smokers are the ones who pay the tax.

Criminalizing cigarettes would also result in criminals (gangsters) getting rich from selling tobacco underground. Cops and politicians would become even dirtier than they already are by getting involved in the black market, much like what's going on with the Drug War. More people would be going to jail and subsequently having their lives ruined merely as a result of smoking cigarettes. Children of inmates are more likely to suffer a plethora of behavioral, social and legal problems of their own, meaning generation after generation will suffer all because some people want to make a profit off of selling cigarettes [2].

Smoking cigarettes is not the worst thing for you. This country has legalized alcohol which is very dangerous. Alcohol causes fatal car crashes and promotes violence which cigarettes do not. Alcohol impairs your judgment and increases the likelihood of poor decision making, yet again we keep this substance legal [3]. Therefore cigarettes shouldn't be illegal.

Criminalizing cigarettes will not diminish peer pressure. There is still peer pressure to do drugs despite them being criminalized. The way to address tobacco addiction is through education (prevention and encouragement to quit) and resources (providing nicotine patches or other alternatives). Forcing smokers to become criminals only ostracizes them and encourages their desire to smoke. Making cigarettes illegal might increase their "cool" factor. Simply rallying against tobacco and educating people is the way to deter smoking.

My opponent points out that cigarettes cause pollution. So do cars, dust, industrial processes, gas stations, agriculture, etc. [4]. Once again not everything that causes pollution or has some problems ought to be criminalized. It needs to be weighed on a cost/benefit analysis.

The alleged benefits of criminalizing smoking are nowhere near the potential negatives.

Debate Round No. 1


I totally agree, but it is harder to break the law than to do anything at all because your conscience will always be there. Plus, you forgot about secondhand smoking. It kills 600 thousand every year. Pollution is also bad. Just because cars pollute doesn't mean that you can legalize a pollution factor that makes up 33% of the pollution. That is a lot of pollution that can at least lessen.

Your first paragraph stated that people have the right to live in polluted areas. Take an example: because so many people smoke, Hawaii is now polluted with cigarette butts, even the beaches. Now, imagine YOU are planning a trip to Hawaii. You go there, and you see cigarettes everywhere. When you are sleeping that night, you realize that a fire has started because of the people who don't completely put out their cigarettes. You did not choose to live in a polluted Hawaii. You wanted to enjoy a good time in Hawaii and not nearly get killed by the cigarette fire. Now, pretend you have a bad asthma case. When you walk down the street, just as you are about to use your inhaler, a guy that is smoking comes right up to you and blows out the cigarette smoke. You start coughing in a big fit. Why would you risk this? Better that you don't go to Hawaii. But, wait, you really wanted to enjoy your time in Hawaii. Now you can't go there? How is that fair?

Your second paragraph states that although secondhand smoke is bad, it shouldn't affect the decision of the smoker. In a black market, you will only secondhand smoke around people who are willing to breathe in your fumes. Plus, secondhand smoke can't really be avoided.

Paragraph 3 states that there are warnings posted on cigarettes. Heck, people who are addicted will die for the cigarette. Smoking, believe it or not, is so bad it is even worse than some kinds of drugs! If people don't look at drug warnings, they probably won't notice smoking warnings.

(Paragraph 4) Yes, I agree with you, but the point is that it is a growing problem and might reach 10 million someday, maybe 2050 if not curbed. Though it is their wish, the 10% that died from secondhand smoking shouldn't have to die. Soon the 600 thousand dead from secondhand smoke will rise to the millions. That's millions that didn't wish to die.

(Paragraph 5) Smoking IS an immediate threat. 30 people die every day due to smoking. 1 in 5 deaths is also caused by smoking. How is that not dangerous? Tanning salons don't harm other people because they don't harm other people. Same as junk food. They harm other people if the other people want to do the same. Secondhand smoking is not a choice. If you lived with somebody who smokes, maybe you'd understand. It is really annoying. The smoke stinks, as well.

(Paragraph 6) Smoking is an addiction. Surely people find smoking a relief if they are addicted. Surely other people don't feel the same way if they are not addicted to smoking. Surely other people don't want them to smoke and get themselves dead because of secondhand smoke. You could say that murdering is a form of pleasure to them. They why do they get the death penalty? The dangerous enjoyment that adversely affects others is definitely not okay.

(Paragraph 7) Surely, prices will rise with so many people buying them, and the sellers will run out of cigarettes fast. Parents will get suspicious of either the black market at school and getting bad grades, or having to be "somewhere" twice a day after or before school. They will soon realize what they are doing.

(Paragraph 8) Like I said before, cigarettes can't be made if they are outlawed. If they are secretly made, the excessive smoke coming from there will be tracked down to the black market source, so cigarettes can't be made. Tobacco can't be grown also if it is outlawed, either. People can go to jail if they can't choose to abide by the law of not smoking cigarettes. If you give everybody a chance to give it up, then it is fair that they go to jail. By the way, you can use this method for getting back the money for not getting tax money from cigarettes. The new land from the loss of tobacco can be used for other things too, like growing fruits and vegetables and other healthy things as an alternative to smoking.

(Paragraph 9) Just because alcohol isn't outlawed doesn't mean smoking can't be outlawed either. The only reason why the 18th amendment was repealed was because governments didn't have the right technology to see who was drinking and who was not. We could have outlawed alcohol again if nobody figured out that moderate amounts of red wine are extremely healthy. But there is nothing healthy about smoking.

(Paragraph 10) It is easier to say that something is illegal than to address all the bad points of smoking. The people who smoke will get caught and they will be really sorry. Even though if that doesn't happen, the cons still don't outweigh the pros.

(Paragraph 11) In this case, you should eliminate the pollution of anything that is reasonable. Here, smoking accounts for 1/3 of the pollution, and nothing is good about it anyway. So why wouldn't you do it? We are also starting to have electric cars that produce nearly zero pollution. That way, gas stations can be slowly turned into electric stations. Our world isn't perfect, but we must try to do everything to make it become more perfect. Agriculture can't be immediately solved, but we are making vertical farming possible. We are doing everything in our power to make this world a better place to live. One of the things we can do is to outlaw smoking. (that's for the 6 million deaths every year)


Pro claims that it's hard to break the law because "your conscience will always be there." And yet almost 1/100 American adults are incarcerated in the prison system of the U.S. [1] This doesn't even account for the number of criminals in the U.S. -- only the ones who did something bad enough to go to jail. Therefore it's wrong to presume that the law serves as a deterrent based on one's conscience.

Pro mentions that pollution is bad, however defeats his own argument in noting that cars pollute yet cars remain legal. I've mentioned that we don't criminalize other things that cause pollution in the last round, thus showing that pollution being bad is not a good enough reason alone to criminalize something.

My opponent mentions that some people avoid living or vacationing in places (like Hawaii) because they don't want to deal with pollution. Private businesses or 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. Littering is also prohibited in most businesses and it's already a legal crime [2].

I've pointed out that the government has taken steps to inhibit second-hand smoke. "The Federal Government has enacted several laws protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke. Federal laws require that all domestic airline flights, as well as all scheduled flights between the United States and foreign destinations, be smoke free. An Executive Order, in effect since 1998, provides that all buildings owned, rented, or leased by the executive branch of the Federal Government must be smoke free, except for designated smoking areas that are enclosed and separately ventilated. Also, under federal law, smoking is not allowed in enclosed areas of agencies receiving federal funding that primarily serve youth, such as schools" [3]. There are additional state laws that are too many to name.

My opponent says that people will disregard warning labels on cigarettes. That's their prerogative.

Pro contests that 1/5 deaths are from smoking. In reality about 17% of American deaths are related to cigarettes, but Pro dropped my contention that freedom from the limitations of government tyranny is the benefit of not criminalizing smoking. As such, the risks are acceptable because people willingly choose to smoke thereby willingly accept the personal risk. 1.3 million people worldwide die in car accidents each year [4] and the obesity epidemic is taking more lives than ever [5] yet we don't criminalize cars or junk food. In fact 1/5 deaths is now related to obesity.

Pro says these things don't "hurt other people" but neither does smoking. Only second-hand smoke does, and I've explained the government has created laws to inhibit the dangers of second-hand smoke. Similarly non-smokers can choose to avoid places where they don't want to ingest smoke.

I mentioned that people get benefits from smoking, and Pro says that the relief from smoking is only due to the addiction. This ignores the other points I mentioned: smokers feel it is relaxing, that it is a fun social activity, that it relieves stress or anxiety, or that they like the ritual which are things they enjoy that are not pertinent to the addiction.

On cost, Pro says cigarette makers will "run out of cigarettes fast" and I'm not sure what this means. I pointed out that the government generates a lot of revenue from taxing cigarettes. "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" [6].

In 2009, states raked in more than $24 billion by taxing cigarettes and $8.8 billion in settlement payments from tobacco companies [6]. "Hans Bader, counsel for special projects at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, cited a number of studies pointing out, in an admittedly macabre fashion, that smokers also save taxpayers money by dying sooner and more quickly than the rest of the population" [6].

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.

Pro says, "Like I said before, cigarettes can't be made if they are outlawed. If they are secretly made, the excessive smoke coming from there will be tracked down to the black market source, so cigarettes can't be made." That is completely false. The government outlaws marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, LSD and innumerable other products that are still bought and sold all the time, and the government still never manages to keep drugs off the street. 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 [7]. The same would likely happen with cigarettes.

My opponent is completely wrong about the reason Prohibition was cut short. It was about money. Uncle Sam needed the revenue. Uncle Sam also realized that nobody actually stopped drinking under Prohibition; speakeasys and bootleg alcohol was the norm, along with criminals pushing alcohol all over the country like Al Capone. Pro has no reason to suggest we can somehow effectively combat tobacco when we cannot effectively battle other 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 [8].

In addition, I've argued that it's nonsensical to criminalize tobacco but not alcohol when alcohol poses a much bigger threat to others in society (causing violence, drunk driving accidents, impaired judgment, etc.). While Pro has dropped a lot of my arguments, this, by far, is a significant one that ought to be extended.

In conclusion...

1. Pro dropped my argument about our liberties and pursuit of happiness.
2. Pro dropped my argument that we don't ban all threats.
3. Pro dropped my argument that cigarettes could not be regulated or taxed on the black market.
4. Pro dropped my argument about criminalization promoting corruption.
5. Pro dropped my point about criminalization harming the families of those who smoke

My opponent has not proven that criminalization is the best option on a cost/benefit analysis.

Debate Round No. 2


I bet that there would be more people doing bad things if it was not against the law. If there was no law against stealing, for example, I bet that all the stores worldwide would have their items disappear in one day. Since it is against the law, the attempts to do it are far less. To break a law, only the very bad people would do it. To do something bad and not break the law, the people who are a little bit bad would do it. By the way, if you look at it this way, it's not even 1% of adults. That's only 30,000 people over 3.5 million square miles of land or 1 person over 100 square miles. If you think about it that way, it is not a lot.

To get rid of pollution, we must do everything in our power to stop it. Before, steam engines produced a lot of pollution. Instead of illegalizing them, we decided to cut their pollution, same as cars. But there is no way to do that to smoking. Nicotine, the addicting drug, is the thing that causes pollution. Remove the nicotine, remove the purpose of smoking. So better to just illegalize it and be done with it forever.

Remember, if smoking isn't banned worldwide, there is still pollution going on. How are you going to trace all those little paper sticks to their owners? How are you going to prevent people from smoking, even in those places that are okay to smoke in? The people on the street really do care that the people that are smoking are putting harmful gasses into the air. By the way, it is pretty much the stuff in a gas chamber. Who would want to inhale that in? Why would you not just make smoking illegal? Even if you can't litter, remember that the people on ships can smoke. The garbage can is only a few feet away, and it is the ocean. Who would realize and trace it to the person, again?

If the government has thought about second-hand smoke, then why isn't it banned in the streets? Why do people still die from secondhand smoke? If you have smoking rooms, then that is still pollution because the ventilation can't remove anything, only put it into a different place. Also, they are expensive and serve as an unnecessary room for only those people who solely rely on paper sticks to provide their happiness. Now, imagine if you are going to get your parents from the smoking room. You walk in and are hit by the stench. That is not what you wanted. You didn't want to get secondhand smoked from walking in the smoking room. It is not a good solution and is much better to just illegalize smoking.

No, it's not that they can ignore the warning, it's that they can't. Like how I said before, they would die for the cigarette. Even though they want to, they can't just quit that easily. 69% of people want to quit smoking completely. However, only a quarter of a percent of people is expected to quit for good. And that's only expected. I bet that there is at least 1% of them that don't quit for good.

We won't criminalize junk food because it is the people's choice to destroy themselves with obesity or not. We are helping cars recognize if they are in danger by adding the "automatic stop" function. If they are near another car, then they are going to stop by themselves. Some models are already doing that. It has lessened car crashes by a lot from those brands. Sadly, it is very expensive. But smoking harms others around you. Like putting in light sensors in cars, we are going to do something to smoking, and in this case, that is illegalizing it. Cars are not the problem. 6 million people die from smoking, like how I said in the first argument.

Also like how I said before, secondhand smoking cannot be totally prevented.

Even if there are right now 1 trillion cigarettes, they will soon disappear from the black market after the supply is gone. If you continue making them, the people will notice odd gasses coming from that place, whether it's from a sewer, etc. The money from fines will cover that up.

Why can't they just tax alcohol highly? Money isn't a concern now.

One sentence: Marijuana doesn't produce smoke, smoking does.


Pro repeats a lot of the same points, so I'll reiterate what's important or anything specific that I have not yet addressed.

While criminalization is indeed a barrier, it does not prohibit all things. Please extend my arguments on the harms of making people criminals unnecessarily (since smoking is a "victimless crime" or crime that does not infringe on other people's rights). Also please extend my arguments on the Prohibition of alcohol being a failure with devastating repercussions, since criminalizing cigarettes would likely have the same effects.

We are not looking to criminalize all things that cause pollution. Please extend those arguments as well.

Pro asks who would want to smoke. It's people's individual choice and preference, and frankly none of his business.

Pro mentions that second hand smoke is still a problem. Most people can remove themselves from situations where second hand smoke is an issue. Further, while there are no federal laws on second hand smoke, more and more towns have become smoke-free across the country [1]. This means smoking can be done in private establishments or one's private home, where individuals should have the liberty to smoke if they so choose.

My opponent claims that people would "die" for cigarettes but that's an irrelevant exaggeration. As I said, people know that smoking is addictive yet accept the risks. It's difficult but possible to quit smoking [2]. If you quit smoking before age 30, there is a 90% chance the harms from smoking won't kill you [3].

Either way, there's no denying that cigarettes are very harmful. I've argued that people have every right to do something they enjoy if they are adults of sound mind. We have the freedom to smoke. It's possible to quit. We have other things in this country that are dangerous and legal (such as alcohol) as it's not the government's job to protect us from ourselves. It's to protect our rights.

Pro says marijuana doesn't "produce smoke" which isn't true. However my argument remains. We shouldn't make people criminals for doing something they enjoy or find useful (i.e. for socializing). My opponent also undermines the significance of taxing cigarettes. Please extend my arguments on the economic impact of this. Moreover, keep in mind that criminalizing cigarettes would add additional cost (much like the War on Drugs) in addition to eliminating revenue.

Debate Round No. 3


00110001 forfeited this round.


Please extend my arguments.
Debate Round No. 4


00110001 forfeited this round.


Please extend my arguments.
Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by whiteflame 3 months ago
>Reported vote: ThinkBig// Mod action: Removed<

6 points to Con (Conduct, Arguments, Sources). Reasons for voting decision: Conduct for the two forfeits. Pro failed to address con's arguments that smoking ban would be a violation of civil liberties, bodily autonomy, the fact that smoking would remain on the black market, and the harm it would cause those who already smoke. Sources go to con as she was the only person to use them, and her sources were largely reliable and provided evidence for her contentions.

[*Reason for removal*] (1) Arguments are insufficiently explained. The voter lists Con's arguments that were dropped, but must still assess points made by Pro and compare them. The voter is required to assess specific arguments made by both sides. (2) (1) Arguments are insufficiently explained. The voter explains why Pro's responses to Con's arguments aren't effective, but not why Con's arguments were effective and netted him the debate. The voter is required to assess specific arguments made by both sides.
Posted by Samcoder1 4 months ago
I wouldn't ban smoking, but I'd ban smoking in public places. That would include pubs, bars, even just out and about. It isn't illegal to overeat so it shouldn't be banned for the sake of self conservation, however the effects of passive smoking especially with children is unforgivable. If it is illegal to be drunk in public, it should be illegal to smoke in public.
Posted by David_Debates 4 months ago
Eating saturated fat should be illegal because 1 in every 4 deaths is from cardiac arrest.
That's how much sense your argument makes.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by WKOJ 2 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I think con deserves the win for conduct and arguments. Con gets conduct because pro had to forfeit the last 2 rounds. Because of the arguments, con was able to keep the point of rights and that banning smoking would infringe on the american people and there liberties.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF