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The Contender
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Smoking is not a "right."

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/26/2013 Category: Health
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 935 times Debate No: 41302
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
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Frequently, smokers will contend that non-smokers/anti-smoking proponents are infringing upon their "rights."

To be certain, people have a basic "right" to choose unhealthily, and cigarettes are not prohibited.

However, there is no law protecting their "right" to use such products; by passing legislation prohibiting smokers from using in specified public areas, no guarantees of freedom are being suppressed. You may still use your drug, but you are disallowed from doing so in certain locations.

I can get naked, but I cannot do so at the mall.
I can scream, but I cannot do so at the library.
I can drink, but I cannot do so while driving.
You can smoke, but you cannot do so while in certain public areas.

I would further contend that all people should have a "right" to clean air to the extent possible. Pollution is a separate matter. For purposes of this debate, I would like to see legislation indicating that non-smokers should never be subjected to or inconvenienced by the substance use of a nearby smoker.


I fully respect and understand your opinion. And before I begin I would like to say that I am an ex-smoker and when I did smoke I was careful about not bothering people. I did this because I believed that just like a woman has the right to do as she wishes with her body and homosexual couples have a right to marriage I had a right to smoke. I would like to refute your claim about legislation indicating that people have no such right. DOMA prevented homosexuals from marrying and using your understand verifies that they had no right to such. As we all know this is false and legislation is not about natural or concrete rights it is about perceived rights. Furthermore, I can only conclude that while a smoker may have a right to smoke their right to smoke is not supreme over a non-smokers right to clean air or right to a healthy body. Those two rights are supreme over the right to smoke as the smoke will drift and cause infringements on non-smokers rights. However, I have a problem when the government tries to force laws on public areas where smoking is not a major issue like parks or parking lots. In some cases people can be alone with no one around in a park or outside a business but would still be fined.
Debate Round No. 1


It appears, then, that we are generally in agreement about the major premise of my argument- the legality of cigarettes does not mean that smokers have a right which supersedes non-smokers' rights.

Without taking into regard your comments about homosexuality, as the two arguments are, by all accounts, unrelated- I would like to address the one aspect upon which you and I disagree.

I feel that areas wherein smoking is permitted needs to be limited. Your own experience may have led you to act respectfully when you smoked; however, I feel that many smokers are not respectful and generally behave as if they feel entitled to smoke wherever and whenever they would like. Smoking unarguably affects everyone within a certain radius. Generally, such legislation is not enforced anyway; it would simply be put forth to set a precedent indicating that the government supports the idea that people should not be unwillingly subjected to cigarette smoke.


I understand and respect your opinion, and just as a side note would like to add that the example on homosexuals was just meant to be an example and nothing else. If there are any hurt feeling among anyone I whole heartedly apologize.

Moving on, in my experience I spent a lot of time with smokers in several different states and found that they in a general sense made sure that they were not in the presence of other people they thought they would annoy or otherwise bother. And as a nonconsequentialist I cannot recommend the prohibition of smoking in "public areas". People must act in the maxim that could be treated as a universal law and since the smoke from cigarettes is what harms people in prohibiting smoking we must prohibit all activities that cause the release of harmful gas in "public areas". Since continues exposure to exhaust fumes has the same effect as continuous exposure to smoke we should be discussing if the use of motor vehicles should be allowed. (It's an extreme example yes but as a philosopher that's how we test theories.)

Now as a new topic. The generalization of "public areas" is far too vague. In some cases private businesses are forced to ban smoking when they would not wish to. That sign outside a private restaurant or retailer that says they can refuse service is an act of assertion over public interference as well as showing that they are not public but are instead private. They have the right to make their own rules but seem to be forced to follow regulations for public areas.
Debate Round No. 2


In the interests of public health, it is my opinion and my conviction that smokers ought to be able to sacrifice smoking while they are in public areas. Legislation restricting public tobacco use would:

1. preserve clean air for all persons (non-smokers and otherwise)
2. protect the sick, elderly, children, and all persons pursuing a healthy lifestyle
3. prevent effects of second-hand smoke (e.g., lung cancer) to non-smokers
4. encourage smokers to smoke less often
5. prevent litter (cigarette butts) and pollution from public areas (people can litter their own homes and yards)


I know all powerful commands and laws come in groups of multiples of 5 but let's simplify what you're claiming. First, preserving clean air and pollution are shocking similar so let's just combine 5 and 1 to clean air and decrease littering. Next, 2 and 3 are very close so let's cut that down to just what 3 says. And 4 just plain won't work as an ex smoker I know that it will just make me smoke more in one designated place instead of smoking less. So were down to two points of preventing pollution and littering along with attempting to decrease health effects on non smokers.

Most smokers don't just throw down their cig. buds if there's an ash tray within a seeable distance it will be placed there. Besides littering is already a fine and doesn't need to be specified to cigarettes. Now, as for pollution a hummer will pump out as much pollution as a cigarette will in ten minutes just by driving by. So treating this as a universal law we must ban any vehicle with as great pollution as a hummer. Moving in to the next portion of your argument (preventing effects to non-smokers) I have already stated that exhaust fumes are just as harmful as exposure to exhaust fumes and a few other activities that involve releasing gas like burning trash. So not only should burning trash be banned but we should ban driving cars with less than 20mpg. My last point will be that if a person wants to smoke, as smoking is an addiction and can by urge make you break the law, they will smoke. Just as anti-drug laws have almost no effect on drug use; smokers will smoke as they please with more awareness on officers a around them. In my experience they will make sure they wouldn't be bothering people but will still smoke of they feel the urge and avoid bothering those people by moving a few feet away.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Dragonduelist 3 years ago
The problem with others smoking is that when they smoke they do not watch who they are smoking next to
Posted by profwamba 3 years ago
the problem with smoking is that it affects non-smokers more than the smoker if he smokes near u. i respect your rights as long as they don't interfere with mine
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