The Instigator
amieturtl3
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
philochristos
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Smoking tobacco should be illegalised completely.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/9/2012 Category: Health
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,314 times Debate No: 26091
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (0)

 

amieturtl3

Pro

1) Smoking tobacco is extremely harmful for not only those who smoke it, but those around them who do not have a choice whether they are infected with the dangerous fumes or not.

2) It costs the National Health Service a LOT of money to treat people who inflicted damage to themselves and so tax payers are paying for preventable problems. (I can say this as my own nanna is in hospital currently with COPD.)

3) Smoking should be banned already so that it does not influence the huge amount of the new generation to continue the habit and stop this before it gives them a chance to harm themselves as well.
philochristos

Con

Thank you, amieturtl3, for debating this important topic with me. First, I'll respond to your 3 reasons for why smoking should be made completely illegal.

First, while I agree that smoking is harmful for the person who smokes, and for those who have to breathe the fumes, I don't think that's a good reason to make smoking illegal. If smoking were banned in public places, but allowed in private places, that would protect unwilling second-hand smokers.

Also, your argument from the harmfulness of smoking proves too much:

1. If some activity is extremely harmful to your health, it should be illegal.
2. Smoking is extremely harmful to your heath.
3. Therefore, smoking should be illegal.

The problem is with your first premise. It could be applied to anything that is extremely harmful. EX:

1. If some activity is extremely harmful to your health, then it should be illegal.
2. Binge eating is extremely harmful to your health.[1]
3. Therefore, binge eating should be illegal.

But surely it is absurd to think that we should make binge eating illegal, in which case we should reject your first premise.

Second, you say that we should make smoking illegal because it costs tax payers a lot of money to treat preventable problems.

But this doesn't have to be the case. The reason smoking costs tax-payers money is because a lot of smokers do not have medical insurance. If a law were passed requiring everybody to have medical insurance, then it wouldn't cost tax payers so much money. And, in fact, Obamacare HAS been passed, and it DOES require everybody to have medical insurance, so problem solved.

Also, your argument proves too much:

1. If some activity costs tax payers a lot of money and is preventable, then it should be made illegal.
2. Smoking costs tax payers a lot of money and is preventable.
3. Therefore, smoking should be made illegal.

But the first premise could be applied to many things which we wouldn't want to be made illegal. EX:

1. If some activity costs tax payers a lot of money and is preventable, then it should be made illegal.
2. Public education costs tax payers a lot of money and is preventable.
3. Therefore, public education should be made illegal.

But nobody wants to make public education illegal. So the mere fact that some activity costs tax payers a lot of money is not a good reason to make it illegal.

Third, you say smoking should be banned so that it doesn't influence the next generation to pick up the habit. But again, that argument proves too much. If preventing the next generation from picking up bad habits is any reason to make those habits illegal, then we should also make cussing, lying, pornography, drinking, unfaithfulness, and rude behavior illegal for the same reason. But surely that is absurd.

Now that I've responded to all of your arguments for why smoking should be made illegal, let me give you a few reasons for why I think smoking should remain legal.

1. If smoking were made illegal, then a LOT of people would lose their livelihood. Many families survive by growing tobacco. That is not to mention the people who work in tobacco plants and manufacture cigarettes and other forms of tobacco consumption.

2. A ban on tobacco would be unenforceable. Tobacco can be grown in a person's own back yard. Outlawing tobacco would create more crime, which would be an even bigger burden on tax payers because they would have to pay for more law enforcement and more prisons.

3. Banning tobacco would create organized crime. We know this because we tried prohibition once. Tobacco is more addictive than heroin. [2] Even though alcohol is less addictive than heroin, outlawing it created the mob. Prohibition was eventually overturned because it created more problems than it solved. Banning smoking would create the same problem if not worse.

4. We value freedom in this country, and that includes the freedom to put ourselves at risk by the lifestyle we choose. That's why we would frown on any suggestion that the government enforce dietary restrictions on us. Benjamin Franklin said that anybody who would give up liberty for safety deserves neither. [3]

5. Most people who smoke would like to quit. But smoking is highly addictive. What these people need is care, not punishment. It would be wrong and unfair to criminalize smoking without providing smokers with addiction treatment. But addiction treatment is often unsuccessful, and it would be a huge burden on the tax payer if it became mandated.

6. A ban on smoking would not prevent smoking. It would be a useless law, creating problems but not solving any.

Thank you for listening. I look forward to your rebuttal.

[1] Flay, Brian R. Health Psychology, Vol 13(1), Jan 1994, 73-85. http://psycnet.apa.org...
[2[ "Nicotine: Harder to kick than heroin" http://www.nytimes.com...
[3] "Benjamin Franklin", Wikipedia http://en.wikiquote.org...
Debate Round No. 1
amieturtl3

Pro

Some good arguments there - but I still stick to my points. You may use examples that relate to my ideas and create preposterous scenarios, however, I would like to point out that smoking tobacco includes all of these ideas. In context, it is harmful for your health, it costs tax payers a lot of money and it is preventable and therefore should be illegal. However, using one of your examples for comparison, public education is not harmful for your health and therefore is not as extreme. Smoking tobacco is both a lot of money and harmful for your health.

However, the binge eating scenario I do agree with; it would seem absurd to ban it, but when thought about in great detail, it is a similar scenario as any other drug. (I personally, would love to have the NHS charge patients for self-inflicted illness!)

I cannot really comment in great deal about your second point in health insurance and Obamacare as I live in the United Kingdom and was speaking in terms of the National Health Service

In your third counter-argument, I can use a similar objection to my earlier point with the exception of drinking (which would be a similar agreement to binge eating which I briefly mentioned earlier). Yes cussing, lying, pornography, unfaithfulness and rude behaviour influences the next generation to pick up a bad habit, but they do not harm the users and those around them in extreme cases and they do not cost tax payers a lot of money. Smoking tobacco includes all of these.

Your own points, I found interesting...

1) Yes a lot of money would be lost in families, but I can refer to the alcohol prohibition that occured in the early 20th century. This is a similar idea to the one I am proposing, as alcohol can be referred to as a drug and is harmful, costs money to tax payers in health consequences and influences a new generation in a bad habit. It must have put many families out of business, however, there are also economic positives. Tax would be decreased as the government would decrease the money given to hospitals and health care as less would be needed to treat smoking related illness.

2) I do agree with this point, however I can refer to other drugs which are illegal when I argue my point that there will always be crime related to illegal drugs. Heroin is an illegal drug, yet people still take heroin. I can also refer to my first counter-argument and second point. If a fine were placed on smoking tobacco illegally, then the government would receive more money to spend on worthwhile things.

3) I have read up on this, and I agree there were bad consequences from prohibition. However, it is a new era and times can change. It used to be that everybody followed the crowd in danger of being attacked verbally and physically for having your own opinion. On a completely unrelated topic in terms for comparison, Martin Luther King was shot for demanding rights for black people. The majority of white people disagreed, despite many wanting to speak out, and eventually he was shot dead for his beliefs. However, now days, racism is not tolerated. Of course, it still occurs, but far less.

4) This is true, but I believe the human right is "to do what a person wishes, if it does not harm others", and I believe smoking tobacco causes passive smoking, which is harming others.

5) I agree, help should be offered to people who wish to quit. But the money the government can cut from the health service budget (taken as less money is needed to treat smoking-related illness) can care for this. Therefore, not much of a rise, or perhaps no rise at all, is needed in tax.

6) I disagree, a good person abides by the law and not everybody in this world is bad. You can see from my previous points and counter-arguments why!

I hope this makes sense, it was written in a hurry. Thank you for replying!
philochristos

Con

This is turning out to be a good debate. I like that amieturtl3 really grappled with my arguments while trying to defend her own.

Some of my arguments assume an American perspective because I didn't know amieturtl3 was from the UK. The health system in the UK is different than in the US, so the effect on the tax burden would be different in the US than in the UK. For the rest of the debate, I'll assume we're talking about whether smoking should be banned in the UK.

I used several reductio ad absurdum arguments in response to amieturtl3's three arguments. She responded by saying that we shouldn't take her reasons in isolation, but altogether as a cumulative case. She effectively rebutted my argument from public education with this construal of her case, but some of my other points remain in tact.

Since it comes down to a cumulative case rather than taking our reasons in isolation from each other, we should settle this debate by weighing the cumulative case on each side.

The case for a ban

(1) Preventable health problems for smokers, (2) preventable health problems for second-hand smokers, (3) higher tax burden due to health services, (4) discourages bad habits in the next generation

The case against a ban

(1) Loss of jobs, (2) higher crime rate, (3) creation of organized crime, (4) larger tax burden due to increased law enforcement, jails, addiction treatment, (5) diminished freedom, (6) ineffectiveness of law

Comparison

A cursory glance reveals a stronger case for keeping smoking legal. But amieturtl3 and I have not resolved all our differences. For one, her point about second hand smoke shouldn't count since it's possible to ban smoking in public places, but keep it legal in private places. Amieturtl3 didn't respond to that point, so we can mark that off her list.

For my case, amieturtl3 agreed with all of my points except (3) and (6). Her response to the points she agreed with was basically to say that the effect of them is off-set by her case for banning smoking. Let's look at her reasons for rejecting (3) and (6).

Her response to (3) is to say that times have changed. But they have not changed. The ban on illegal drugs like marijuana has created organized crime that exists to this day. Smoking is likely to make things worse because people are accustomed to having the right to smoke, and there are more tobacco users than marijuana users. So we should keep (3).

Her response to (6) is just to deny it. I guess you have to ask yourself whether a ban on smoking would prevent smoking. Did a ban on alcohol prevent drinking? Does a ban on marijuana prevent marijuana use? Since people can grow their own tobacco and tobacco is highly addictive, banning tobacco will not prevent its use. So I'm going to insist on keeping (6).

Let's compare again.

Revised case for a ban

(1) Preventable health problems for smokers, (2) higher tax burden due to health services, (3) discourages bad habits in the next generation.

Revised case against a ban

(1) Loss of jobs, (2) higher crime rate, (3) creation of organized crime, (4) larger tax burden due to increased law enforcement, jails, addiction treatment, (5) freedom is diminished, (6) ineffectiveness of law

Revised comparison

Now, a cursory look reveals an even stronger case in favor of my position. But let's take a closer look.

First, she claims that smoking causes preventable health problems. A ban might reduce the incidence of smoking, but it would have little effect since many people are going to smoke anyway, and there will still be significant health problems due to illegal smoking.

Second, she says a ban on smoking will relieve a tax burden due to health services no longer being required. But since many people will continue to smoke, there will still be a tax burden from health problems. Plus, there will be an extra tax burden from the extra law enforcement required. Plus, with all those people in the tobacco industry losing their jobs, there will be a decrease in tax revenue since those people will not have an income, and that puts a higher tax burden on everybody else. So over all, the tax burden will be much greater if smoking is banned than if it remains legal.

Third, let me say one more thing about the tax burden due to health services. If this argument carries any weight, then the government would have the right to enforce dietary restrictions. It would have the right to ban cake and ice cream since (1) it causes obesity and diabetes, (2) which are preventable, and (3) banning them would discourage bad habits in the next generation. Any sort of unhealthy lifestyle would be fair game for the government to ban. And that runs right up against my point about freedom and liberty which the UK and the US both value greatly.

There are legitimate points on both sides, but overall, I think my case is clearly stronger.

Thank you, amieturt3, for keeping it interesting.
Debate Round No. 2
amieturtl3

Pro

Thank you very much!

I would like to place my own opinion on the summary of the argument so far.

FOR:

1) Smoking tobacco is harmful for the smokers and those around them.
Counter: Can be applied to any activity, eg. binge eating, which is preposterous.
Agreed: However, it is the same for any drug which has successfully remained illegal. Compromise, NHS charge patients for self-inflicted illness.

2) It costs the NHS a lot of money and therefore costs civilians a lot of tax.
Counter: Medical insurance is compulsory in America. Can be applied to any activity eg. public education, which is preposterous.
Disagreed: Different health systems in UK and US. Smoking tobacco not only costs the health service but also includes all my other points and is therefore more extreme.

3) Smoking should be banned to reduce the risk of influencing a new generation.
Counter: Can be applied to any activity eg. cussing, lying, pornography, drinking, unfaithfulness and rude behaviour, which is preposterous.
Disagreed: Smoking tobacco not only runs the risk of influencing a new generation but also includes all my other points and is therefore more extreme.

AGAINST:

1) Many families survive by growing tobacco.
Counter: Whilst legal, money made from the cutting of the health service budget by the government would mean a decrease in tax and therefore families would gain money in aspects of tax.
Disagreed: People will continue to smoke despite the ban. Decrease in tax revenue.
Counter: Health service budget would still be decreased I assume.

2) Increased crime rate.
Counter: Money does not necessarily have to be spent on prisons etc. Like other consuming of illegal drugs, a fine could be placed and therefore the government would have more money to spend on worthwhile things.
No response so agreement assumed.

3) Creation of organised crime would occur.
Counter: Times have changed due to the smaller fear of speaking out for moral actions.
Disagreed: Times have not changed, organised crime exists to this day.
Counter: Referring to the Prohibition, rebellion was a matter of mob gangs and killing. Today, rebellion is continuing to smoke marijuana and is therefore less extreme than cases long ago.

4) Freedom is valued, we should be allowed to put our lives at risk by the lifestyle we choose.
Counter: I believe the human right is "to do what a person wishes, if it does not harm others". Smoking harms others.
No response so agreement assumed.

5) It would be unfair to not provide smokers with addiction treatment which would be a huge burden on the tax payer.
Counter: The money the government can cut from the health service budget can care for this.
Disagree: People will continue to smoke despite the ban.
Counter: I assume a budget cut would still take place.

6) A ban on smoking would not prevent smoking.
Counter: There are good people in this world who abide by the law. See previous arguments.
Disagree: Tobacco is highly addictive, a ban would not prevent it's use.
Counter: Other illegal drugs are still used today. Fines placed would increase the governments money!

OVERALL:

I think my argument is still strong and a good indication of why smoking tobacco should be made illegal. I believe that many compromises can be made, however. Such as, self-inflicted illness should be paid for by the patient rather than tax payers. I believe I have made some valid arguments and I remain with my views. I hope I have been persuasive in getting my points across.

Thank you for this debate, it's been a pleasure! :)
philochristos

Con

We have come to the end of the debate. In spite of not being persuaded, I have to admit that I'm very impressed with amieturtl3. She's an intelligent, articulate, and challenging opponent. She made me think about an issue I had never really thought that much about. I have to admit there have been times when I've wished smoking were illegal just because I can't stand being around people who smoke, and I hate seeing cigarette butts laying around. But having given it closer thought because of this debate, I'm now persuaded that a ban on smoking would do more harm to our society than good.

In the last round, I showed how banning smoking would create a heavier tax burden on the government than keeping it legal since banning smoking would have little affect on the cost of medical care, but it would have a great affect on the cost of law enforcement as well as loss of revenue from those who will be out of work. (I thought of another reason, but I guess it would be unfair to bring it up at this point.)

amieturtl3 sought to off-set the increased tax burden by fining criminals who got caught smoking illegally. But I do not think revenue from fines would do much to off-set the extra cost of law enforcement. If fines were enough to pay for law enforcement, then law enforcement wouldn't require the extra income from tax money. And think of all the costs that would be required--more police officers, more jails, more court costs, etc. Remember that if smoking became illegal, we wouldn't just be fining people who smoked. We'd have to deal with people who produced and sold tobacco illegally. We'd have to deal with the crime organizations that would form around the production of illegal tobacco products. We can't just fine those people. We'd have to prosecute them and put them in jail because trafficking and dealing are much more serious crimes than just using. Once they're in jail, we'd also have to pay for their livelihood, e.g., food, clothing, water, sewage, electricity, etc. It's expensive to keep people in jail. Fines barely cover administrative costs.

Speaking of organized crime, amieturtl3 still thinks things are different today than during prohibition where there were mob killings and such. Does she not realize that there are still mob killings between rival drug dealers and traffickers today? Why would tobacco be any different? How many times have we heard reports on the evening news about a killing that resulted from a drug deal gone bad? I explained in my earlier post why we should expect things to actually be worse with illegal tobacco than with illegal drugs. The reason is because there is higher demand for tobacco than for illegal drugs.

I made the point earlier that the tax burden due to health issues wouldn't change much if smoking were illegal since people would still smoke illegally. Amieturtl3 suggested a compromise--that we make people pay for their own self-inflicted illnesses.

But that is highly impractical. The government would have to prove that the illness was self-inflicted, which would be well nigh impossible. And aren't most health issues self-inflicted? What if somebody has a heat stroke because of training too hard at sports? What if somebody gets diabetes because they ate too many brownies? Should accidents that could have been avoided be considered "self-inflicted"? Besides that, what do we do with people who get lung cancer but can't afford to pay for their own health care? Should we just toss them out in the streets and let them die? I don't think amieturtl3's suggestion of compromise would ever work in the real world. It was a neat idea, though.

The end.

Thank you, amieturtl3, for an incredibly mentally stimulating debate. This is actually the best and most challenging debate I've had on this web site so far. I hope to debate with you again some time. Take care!
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by amieturtl3 4 years ago
amieturtl3
Thank YOU for my first debate! Sorry my responses were not as rapid as yours but your arguments have made me see a larger picture. It's been fun. :)
Posted by philochristos 4 years ago
philochristos
Wonderful debate, amieturtl3! Thank you so much!
Posted by amieturtl3 4 years ago
amieturtl3
Nice arguments! There's a lot there I had never considered. I will respond soon, but now I must sleep. I will most likely get my response to you by tomorrow evening. Thank you!
Posted by philochristos 4 years ago
philochristos
Okay, thanks. I'll get back with you shortly.
Posted by amieturtl3 4 years ago
amieturtl3
Forgive me, I'm new to this. This was a basic summary of the reasons behind my opinion, and so I was hoping you would summarise the reasons behind your opinion in your round one. Then in round two we can proceed to countering each other's arguments? :)
Posted by philochristos 4 years ago
philochristos
Before I begin, I have one question. Does this count as your opening statement (in which case I should respond with my opening statement in round 1), or is it just a summary (in which case I should just accept in round 1 and wait for your opening in round2)?
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