The Instigator
fea1990
Pro (for)
Winning
15 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Con (against)
Losing
12 Points

Smoking should be illegal

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
fea1990
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/20/2011 Category: Science
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,164 times Debate No: 15504
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (4)
Votes (5)

 

fea1990

Pro

About 443,000 deaths are attributed to smoking[1]. A substance this deadly should not be legal. Not only does it cause these deaths, it also increases the risk for a large range of health ailments. Right on a pack of Cigarettes it says "Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide". People have carbon monoxide detectors in their house to prevent them from dying due carbon monoxide being released into their house unknowingly, yet the government sells a product which contains it.
[1] http://www.cdc.gov...
Danielle

Con

Many thanks for beginning this debate, Pro.

I'll begin by pointing out that the government does not have the right to determine what people do with their own body. For instance, even if the majority of people thought tattoos were ugly, I think we can agree that it would be both unconstitutional and immoral to suggest the government outlaw tattoos. Likewise, if people enjoy smoking then there is no reason to criminalize it. While the government has taken measures to protect innocent bystanders from the dangers of second-hand smoke [1], 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.

Pro brings up the fact that smoking kills about 443,000 deaths a year. 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. An analogy are the people who go surfing with big waves and how they risk drowning (should we criminalize that?), or those who choose to go sun tanning despite the risk of skin cancer. The fact is that we can't criminalize everything just because people might abuse it and create self-harm down the road. Smoking is not an immediate threat, and not necessarily a fatal one.

I'd also like to correct a false statement Pro made in the last round. He claimed the government sells cigarettes, yet tobacco companies are private companies. The government does not sell cigarettes, but instead regulates the companies that do, just like it regulates other industries. The government in fact actively discourages smoking by my opponent's own admission, for example by mandating the Surgeon General's warnings about the dangers of smoking on every package [2].

If smoking were criminalized, all that would happen is that a black market would emerge much like the black market that existed during prohibition, or that which exists for drugs. This would only result in criminals (gangsters) getting rich from selling on the black market. Cops and politicians would become even dirtier than they already are by getting involved in the market, much like what's going on in Mexico [3]. More people would be going to jail and subsequently having their lives ruined merely as a result of smoking cigarettes. Moreover, 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 [4].

The alleged benefits of criminalizing smoking are nowhere near the potential negatives. It is not the government's right or responsibility to do this.

Thanks, Pro, and back to you.

-- References --

[1] http://www.sciencedaily.com...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://news.smh.com.au...
[4] http://www.mapinc.org...
Debate Round No. 1
fea1990

Pro

I'll respond by saying that con's first argument is false. The government may not have the right to tell people what to do with their own body, but they do have the power to make the sale and usage of cigarettes illegal. Just like they did in prohibition by making alcohol illegal.

Con states that we cannot criminalize smoking cigarettes just because its dangerous. That is the main reason in which we should criminalize it. Cigarettes are one of the most deadliest things that we have on this planet. 5 million deaths worldwide per year are cause by cigarettes, and 443,000 in the US per year as I stated before[1]. There are zero deaths a year caused by marijuana but that substance is illegal to use[2]. There should not be a substance on the market that kills 443,000 people per year and is addicting due to what is in it.

Nicotine is addicting, there is no way around that. We allow people to produce and sell cigarettes that cause a huge amount of deaths and health ailments. The fact that nicotine is also put into the product is absolutely ridiculous because not only are they the most deadly legal substance we have, they are also the most addicting.

Con begins to go on about how the criminalization of cigarettes would lead to more people going to jail, and more lives being ruined due to smoking cigarettes. The interesting thing is that Con states in the beginning of the argument that the government cannot control the decisions of the people. It is not the governments fault if they decide to make cigarettes illegal and people continue to smoke and they must be arrested.

The clear reasoning for making cigarettes illegal would be the amount of damage it does to so many lives all over the world. People getting sent to prison and hopefully learning their lesson is much better than killing almost half a million people in the US each year.

[1] http://www.quitsmokinghub.com...
[2] http://drugwarfacts.org...
Danielle

Con

Pro begins, "I'll respond by saying that con's first argument is false. The government may not have the right to tell people what to do with their own body, but they do have the power to make the sale and usage of cigarettes illegal." In the last round, I never denied that the government had the power to do such a thing but merely argued that they did not have that right. Pro never disagrees, thus he never proves that my argument is false.

Unfortunately the government has the authority to criminalize cigarettes, but they do not have the right to do such a thing. Something is not necessarily right just because the government approves it. For instance the government kept slavery legal for many years; does that mean that implementing slavery was the right thing to do just because the government could legally enforce it? Pro's point that the government CAN criminalize cigarettes is completely irrelevant as he must prove that the government SHOULD criminalize cigarettes.

Next, Pro writes, "Con states that we cannot criminalize smoking cigarettes just because its dangerous. That is the main reason in which we should criminalize it." He then goes on to present the exact same statistics he did from the first round about the number of people dying. Of course this completely ignores my rebuttal. In the last round I explicitly explained why just because cigarettes are dangerous that they should not necessarily be illegal. Pro has not responded to any of those points. For instance, I asked whether we should criminalize other things that are dangerous. Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, even more than cigarettes. Should we criminalize eating steak because doing so is dangerous and potentially fatal by contributing to heart disease? Pro ignored this, my analysis and other analogies from the last round, so please extend them.

In response to criminalizing cigarettes sending more people to jail, Pro writes, "It is not the government
s fault if they decide to make cigarettes illegal and people continue to smoke and they must be arrested." Active resistance to illegitimate policies is acceptable. Consider the Civil Rights movement. Were the African Americans who fought against unjust policy wrong for resisting?

Nevertheless it doesn't matter because Pro conveniently drops the biggest part of my argument with this response. First, Pro never responded to my point about how criminalizing people for this is completely unnecessary and in fact immoral (since there is no victim). Second, Pro must justify the effects of this policy on both the "criminal" and their family. Third, Pro completely dropped my black market and the legal repercussions thereof argument. Additionally, Pro must explain why criminalizing cigarettes, therefore needing more police, therefore expanding the criminal justice system immensely, therefore costing the tax payers an exorbitant amount of money would be worth it on a cost/benefit analysis. Keeping drugs illegal costs the government over 76 billion dollars a year [5], and it logically follows that criminalizing cigarettes would cost a lot more!

In conclusion, Pro overall dropped the most important contentions of my rebuttal. Pro must explain that the government has the RIGHT and SHOULD criminalize cigarettes - not just that they have the power to do so which is obvious. Furthermore he must prove that doing so would be beneficial to society on a cost-benefit analysis. While he mentioned that criminalizing cigarettes might save lives, he never argued why the people don't have the right to make their own personal decisions. Hopefully my opponent addresses these arguments and analogies, and I look forward to a great third round.

Back to you, Pro.

[5] http://blogs.reuters.com...
Debate Round No. 2
fea1990

Pro

I have clearly stated that the government has the right to criminalize cigarettes. They have done it in the past with other substances and still uphold laws with substances today. And the argument at hand is about criminalizing cigarettes, not anything else, therefore the fact that my opponent brings up slavery and surfing with big waves are completely irrelevant. And if the fact that about half a million people die each year due to cigarettes is not enough, then explain why we should keep them legal and kill half a million people every year.

All of the analogies that CON present are irrelevant because they have nothing to do with cigarettes, we are not arguing about eating steak, surfing, or slavery which is why i do not bother to answer them.

Con also brings up the black market and how gangsters and criminals would get rich due to cigarettes being a illegal. There is no guarantee that this would happen. Con also states that the government would need to spend more money on police to enforce these rules which is completely false because you do not need to add more police, the police that we have now that are looking for other illegal substances would just have to add another to the list rather than adding more police.

Why should half a million people have to die every year so that the government can save some money? Should we just make all substances legal with big warning stickers so that everybody has been thoroughly warned and allow them to make the decision for themselves?
Danielle

Con

Danielle forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
fea1990

Pro

fea1990 forfeited this round.
Danielle

Con

It seems my opponent and I have both exhibited poor conduct in accidentally missing a round (at least it was an accident in my case), so without further adieu I'll jump right back in to it...

Pro writes, "I have clearly stated that the government has the right to criminalize cigarettes. They have done it in the past with other substances and still uphold laws with substances today." Once again, just because the government has the right in the sense of AUTHORITY to do this, I asked Pro to explain why the government SHOULD have this right. I've mentioned repeatedly that it's no secret the governments CAN criminalize cigarettes - but should they be able to? Pro says yes because they can kill about half a million people each year. Extend my arguments (they have all been ignored) about why this is irrelevant and not a good enough reason to affirm that the government should have this right. In fact, my opponent has ignored it several times now as evidenced by this paragraph from the last round:

"Of course this completely ignores my rebuttal. In the last round I explicitly explained why just because cigarettes are dangerous that they should not necessarily be illegal. Pro has not responded to any of those points. For instance, I asked whether we should criminalize other things that are dangerous. Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, even more than cigarettes. Should we criminalize eating steak because doing so is dangerous and potentially fatal by contributing to heart disease? Pro ignored this, my analysis and other analogies from the last round, so please extend them."

Pro says that these analogies are irrelevant because they're about steak and surfing and not cigarettes. Perhaps my opponent does not understand the purpose of an analogy. An analogy is a similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based [6]. Ergo, my examples are analogies. While they are not cigarettes specifically, my example compares potential dangers of cigarettes and their criminal status vs. the potential dangers of other things and their criminal status. Pro has not proven that the connection is irrelevant, therefore he is responsible for answering my question about these analogies or you must consider it a dropped argument and award the point in my favor. Once again, I explained that things cannot be criminalized just because they're potentially dangerous. Pro cannot gloss over this paramount contention.

Pro continues, "Con also brings up the black market and how gangsters and criminals would get rich due to cigarettes being a illegal. There is no guarantee that this would happen." There is also no guarantee that people who smoke will get heart disease; however, we can use evidence to make assumptions about what effects a policy would have. It's been documented that smoking can lead to health risks just like it's been historically evidenced that prohibition yields a massive black market. In fact, nearly all criminalized or prohibited things ARE sold on the black market, so it's completely false for Pro to suggest that we can't expect this reality. It's a near certain guarantee. I've explained why, but Pro hasn't proven or explained contrary so we have no reason to accept his assertion.

Pro also suggests this policy would not mandate the hiring of more police, though logic tells us otherwise. With a whole new branch of criminal activity (and people inevitably violating those laws on a mass scale - especially given the number of people who smoke), then more police would or should be necessary. Otherwise the laws become pretty useless as they'd be hard to enforce. Moreover I explained the MASSIVE overhaul (and expense!!!) that the criminal justice system would require as a result of these policies. Pro has ignored that argument as well.

My opponent concludes, "Why should half a million people have to die every year so that the government can save some money? Should we just make all substances legal with big warning stickers so that everybody has been thoroughly warned and allow them to make the decision for themselves?" Again, this completely ignores my arguments from the previous rounds. It's almost bad conduct for me to have to repeat them. I explained that the government is merely a group of people making decisions for others. This is barely legitimate, and as such prohibitive laws must be kept to a minimum. The government should not be intrusive on the life of its citizens. I explained that doing so would be immoral. If people want to make unhealthy choices like eating fatty foods or smoking cigarettes, then that's their prerogative and the government has no right to tell them otherwise. It is not the government's job to make decisions for its people; merely to protect their rights -- including the right to smoke cigarettes.

It seems this debate is shifting focus from the issue of smoking to specifically determining what rights the government ought to have. In that case, I invite Pro to post one last round explaining why the government should have this kind of authority. Even if Pro explains that the government SHOULD be able to criminalize cigarettes, he must prove that doing so would be the best option vs. the alternative. So far he hasn't done either.

Again, extend any unrefuted arguments and good luck to Pro in the last round.

[6] http://dictionary.reference.com...
Debate Round No. 4
fea1990

Pro

I apologize for missing the last round as well.

Con raises the question "Should we criminalize eating steak because doing so is dangerous and potentially fatal by contributing to heart disease?" This "analogy" says that eating steak causes heart disease, but eating steak is completely different from smoking cigarettes. Steak does not have deadly substances such as tar, and also doesn't have a substance like nicotine which is addicting. Also eating steak does not directly cause heart disease therefore the analogy that con produces does not prove the point. Con also states that heart disease is even more of a killer yearly than cigarettes with no statistics provided. Also if con would like to bring that statistic into play I would like to question in the number of deaths, how many of the people with heart diseases contracted it from smoking cigarettes? The criminalizing of cigarettes would not only lower the number of deaths per year by cigarettes but it would also lower the deaths per year for all of the problems that come with cigarettes including heart disease.

Con states that the analogies are relevant in the sense that they compare the dangers of cigarettes and other things. That is absolutely ridiculous because my opponent's analogies are nowhere near as dangerous as cigarettes are. The analogies given are steak eating and big wave surfing. Those analogies do not cause anywhere near as many deaths as cigarettes do and are not highly addicting as cigarettes are. Also they do not effect the people around them such as second hand smoke does. I am no doctor but I do not think that when someone has heart disease the reason is they eat steak a lot.

Con continues to bring up the black market and how gangsters and criminals would get rich if cigarettes were illegal. Also that everything that is prohibited ends up being sold on the black market. So if we shouldn't criminalize cigarettes because they would be sold on the black market then should we just legalize everything and stick warning labels on them so people can make their own decisions? Con did not address that question that I asked in the previous round.

Con also argues that we would need more police to enforce the new law which would cost money. So we should keep cigarettes legal in order to save the government some money? Half a million lives are now worth the amount of money it is to pay more policemen?

Con states that cigarettes are personal choices and do not effect others, yet second hand smoke is very deadly. Now walking next to someone who is smoking or being in the same room as someone else is not necessarily a personal choice. Sometimes it is a choice but there are instances in which it cannot be avoided. Cigarettes should be criminalized because of all of the lives that they take each year and how many people lives it ruins. Getting lung cancer or heart disease is a lot deadlier than going to prison or getting a fine. Once a disease like that is contracted there's nothing really left that can be done.

Criminalizing cigarettes would save lives, that is the main point. Numbers for heart disease, lung cancer, and other ailments that are caused by cigarettes will also decrease, which would mean saving more lives than the previously mentioned half a million. Saving half a million lives or more should be worth the money spent on extra police and the possible risk of the black market selling cigarettes.
Danielle

Con

Danielle forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by 1dustpelt 4 years ago
1dustpelt
7 point vb gave pro the win
Posted by LeafRod 5 years ago
LeafRod
LOL! eib10202's RFD is the best I've ever seen.
Posted by Danielle 5 years ago
Danielle
If you agree that this can be said about nearly every other debate, then I see no reason to point it out here specifically. The same exact thing can be said about every capitalism debate where people just recycle arguments from Mises.
Posted by Atheism 5 years ago
Atheism
A dollar says that all arguments made by both sides will be the same ones we've seen time and again. No offense to the ones involved in the debate, but this, like nearly everything else, has been beaten like a dead horse.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by eib10202 5 years ago
eib10202
fea1990DanielleTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: people who smoke have no feelings
Vote Placed by Cobo 5 years ago
Cobo
fea1990DanielleTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con Forfiet Twice; Pro used a government site as a reference which is quite a trump card. I found both of their agruments and grammar equally compelling
Vote Placed by Vi_Veri 5 years ago
Vi_Veri
fea1990DanielleTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Con's arguments were better, sources more reliable and had better s/g. It should be TIE for conduct (because both forfeited), but Con was v-bombed so I'm giving her the point. One voter said Pro actually had better sources. That's bogus.
Vote Placed by bluesteal27 5 years ago
bluesteal27
fea1990DanielleTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision:
Vote Placed by socialpinko 5 years ago
socialpinko
fea1990DanielleTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct is a tie for both debaters forfeits. Arguments go to Con because even while Pro had an extra round to debate, he simply repeated a tautology about how cigarettes are bad for people while ignoring Con's analogies, examples of other black markets, and more money spent on police. Sources go to Con for a few more sources.