Smoking should be outlawed
Debate Rounds (3)
I accept this debate, and thank Pro for their opening argument. I will now refute each of the points that Pro has brought up, and give my reasons as to why smoking should not be totally outlawed.
My rebuttal is divided into four main points:
1. Civil rights
2. Exaggerated harm
3. Hurts the economy
4. Smoking will not stop
1. Civil rights
First and foremost, I will not deny that smoking is harmful to one's health. 6 million deaths per year worldwide are related to tobacco use, out of an estimated over 1 billion people that use it.  However, just because an act can be perceived as harmful to the individual doesn't mean that the government has any right to prohibit this act by law. Think of the obesity epidemic, for example. Over 300 thousand deaths per year in the United States are directly linked with overeating.  Using the same logic you applied, should the government ban McDonald's and legally require that everyone get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day? Most people say no. While it's smart to both get exercise and avoid smoking, the rights of the individual allow them to make a choice of whether or not to do harm to their body. The government has no business infringing upon them.
However, I understand that inhaling secondhand smoke is slightly dangerous to one's health, though significantly less, and people have the right to breathe clean air on public property. Therefore, I would not be opposed to regulating smoking in some public places. Many people are confused as to what constitutes "public property", so here is the proper definition: "property owned by the government or one of its agencies, divisions, or entities."  These places are funded and maintained by taxes, and include schools, playgrounds, courthouses, post offices, and so on. Restaurants, bars, and stores are privately owned and operated, and the individual who owns them has the right to decide whether or not smoking is allowed on their property. Pro is calling for a universal ban on smoking, and while I agree that some places should not allow it, there is no reason for the government to ban it absolutely. If a bar owner wishes to allow smoking in his establishment, and his patrons are consenting adults who know the risks of secondhand smoke, I see nothing criminal or illegal about that.
2. Exaggerated harm
While there is no question about the individual self-harm of smoking, Pro makes some exaggerations about its ramifications on society and the environment.
"Your cat is twice as likely to get cancer if the owner smokes."
While it is true that pets can be affected by secondhand tobacco smoke, pets are regarded by law to be property. The owner can do what they please around their pet, so long as they refrain from breaking the law, especially animal cruelty. And while the ASPCA recommends that smokers "take it outside" to avoid harming their pets, there is no legal backing for this,  and no reason why human rights should be infringed upon for the sake of animal life.
"Smoking is VERY bad for the environment. If people stopped smoking, 28 percent of sand litter would disappear."
Smoking doesn't help the environment, but calling it "VERY bad" is a gross exaggeration. Food wrappers, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans also account for much of "sand litter", as Pro and NationSwell call beach garbage. Littering is already a criminal offense; there is no reason for further enforcement. Using that as a reason for a smoking ban would also justify the banning of potato chips, soda, and bottled water. Besides, a little trash on the beach poses very little harm to the planet's well-being, so urgency is not a factor here.
Anyway, only 30% of cigarette butts are tossed away as waste. One British company, Stanelco, is attempting to create cigarette butts made of food grade starch, a biodegradable material found in potatoes and rice, and it decomposes within two months.  Should these efforts succeed, butt pollution will no longer be an issue.
"600 million trees would be saved annually, and less pesticides would be in the air."
Over six times that amount of trees are used to make regular paper each year.  And this amount combined with all other deforestation doesn't even come close to the over 3 trillion trees alive on our planet. Even so, trees only account for less than 30% of oxygen produced on the Earth, being dwarfed by phytoplankton and seaweed.  Coming back to the main point, losing 600 million trees a year isn't as much of a problem as Pro would have us believe.
Cigarettes do not contain "pesticides". A pesticide is defined as "a chemical or biological substance designed to kill or retard the growth of pests that damage or interfere with the growth of ... vegetation desired by humans."  Cigarettes are not created with the purpose of killing pests. The word you may be looking for is "toxins", of which cigarettes have plenty. However, these toxins relatively harmless on an environmental scale. Smoking only releases trace amounts of pollution into the air, and they dissipate quickly. According to Web MD, the bulk of the harm caused by smoking is to the smoker's lungs (obviously), and should the smoking take place indoors, the lungs of those around them.  Smoking is a threat to the body; it is no serious threat to the environment.
3. Hurts the economy
I will introduce a new point that Pro has not touched upon. The very high excise taxes on cigarette cartons (also known as the "sin tax") produces money for the federal and state government. In the year 2010, this tax brought in $15.5 billion in revenue, which went to fund an expansion of the federal State Children’s Health Insurance (SCHIP) program.  State and federal governments rely heavily on this money, and if smoking were banned, they would look for the revenue elsewhere. I would rather place the burden of taxation upon smokers, alcoholics, and gamblers than anyone's income.
4. Smoking will not stop
Lastly, I argue that even a total ban on smoking will not stop the practice. Whenever a drug is banned in history, circulation of the drug does not falter; it only becomes more difficult to acquire. Take the Prohibition era, where alcohol was rendered illegal, yet one could find a speakeasy in every town, thousands in New York City alone. Speakeasies produced and sold alcohol, and were often overlooked by the police. In 2009, 1.4 million pounds of marijuana were seized while being smuggled over the US border, which pales in comparison to the estimated 7 million which made it over undetected.  Given that 20 percent of Americans are smokers and most of them are addicted , there is simply no chance that they will all obey the law and quit smoking cold turkey. All a smoking ban would do is populate prisons with decent people who happen to enjoy nicotine.
"If cociane [sic] is illegal, then why should smoking not be?"
Cocaine is massively more harmful to the individual than nicotine. It is a strong stimulant which causes dependent addiction and can lead to strokes, blood infections, and cardiac death after only a few years of using it. So, to protect people from themselves, the government renders it illegal. However, I don't follow your logic as to why the illegal status of cocaine should automatically lead to the same status for smoking, which is far less dangerous. If anything, I would argue the opposite: if smoking is legal, then why should cocaine not be? But that is a different story, and unrelated to the present debate.
In conclusion, a smoking ban would not work and should not be put in place because it would violate human rights, harm the economy, and fail to hinder the prevalence of smoking anyway. Also, smoking is not as damaging to the environment as Pro claims, and while it damages the bodies of smokers, the government has no right to infringe upon that choice. I now await Pro's rebuttal for Round 2.
MicaylaMae forfeited this round.
My opponent has forfeited Round 2, so I will refrain from adding any further argument this round.
You have made some fair points, con. I am fully aware that this is my fault for not clarifying, but please keep the last round of debate short. I just want to sum up each of the points you have made, and you can do the same for mine. Thank You.
1. Civil rights.
The government should be allowed to outlaw something if it harms the body. Like you said, there is specific evidence that it does harm the body.
2. Exaggerated harm
You are correct that there is no legal backing, except my debate is that there should be strict laws against smoking. Notice that I made laws plural.
As far as the environment goes, trash on the beach does hurt the environment. It collects in rivers, oceans, and dams, where fish eat it. Do you ever see a cop pull some on over for tossing a cigarette but out of the window? No, but they would if you toss you soda can.
For the final round, Pro has elected not to add any new points, but to examine some that I have made and refute them. However, I have some conflicting opinions.
"The government should be allowed to outlaw something if it harms the body."
I wish you had elaborated on this idea, because that in and of itself would make an interesting debate. As I explained in Round 1, I believe that the government has no business protecting people from themselves. Everyone has a right to make unhealthy decisions that will very likely harm them. It may not be smart to smoke two packs a day, but that is the choice you are free to make in a free, democratic, First World society.
Now, you could argue that the government should protect us from ourselves, and many people do believe that. But since Pro failed to explain her logic behind the above, I see no reason to give any further justification for my viewpoint.
"...my debate is that there should be strict laws against smoking. Notice that I made laws plural."
With this quote, Pro appears to have added an entirely new dimension to this debate. Never before has she mentioned that multiple laws should be passed. Only in this final round has she "made laws plural". Disappointingly, I was unable to hear what laws Pro had in mind, since she brought this up so late in the debate.
Pro also tries to refute my environmental argument with a few hasty generalizations and no backing from sources of any kind. She appears to be hinting that cigarette butts ought to be treated as litter, which I agree with, but this has little to do with the argument of whether or not smoking should be legal. Therefore, it is irrelevant.
I thank Pro for this debate, and wish her the best of luck in the voting period.
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