The Instigator
Pro (for)
8 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

The Benefits of Smoking Actually Outweigh the Risks

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/17/2014 Category: Health
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,702 times Debate No: 46115
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)




I will be debating pro; there will be four rounds. This debate will assume that "smoking" means "smoking tobacco", as the practice of smoking cannabis is also gaining some momentum.
The debate will begin with each side providing a statement of their stance in the first round. In the second round, both sides will present their arguments, and the rounds after the second round will include the negative cross examinations of both sides, and the rebuttals.

Pro Statement:

Considering the fact that tobacco has been smoked and used medicinally for hundreds of years, it should come across as questionable as to why there has been a sudden outburst as to it's risks - especially during the mid-1900's, where many other recreational drugs (alcohol, cannabis) were being demonized at the time by various other prohibitionist movements, not to mention the drug hysteria and the "Just Say No" campaign put forward by the Reagan administration. A timeline of the history of tobacco can be seen here: (

In fact, contrary to anti-smoking propaganda, the benefits of smoking actually do outweigh the risks. **Smoking tobacco lowers the smoker's risk of alzheimer's disease, parkinson's disease, and breast cancer, while also improving the smoker's **"human information processing". Yes, the practice of smoking may increase the smoker's risk for cancer and emphesema, but the risk factors of these diseases are **"multifactorial" and could have been caused by anything. Doctors in one voice will declare that smoking "causes" cancer - and doctors are very authoritative figures in the world of health and medicine - however, doctors have been wrong before, as in 1890, it was generally believed that "masturbation caused blindness." *(Colby).

Furthermore, anti-smoking campaigns and the surgeon general have stated that smoking "causes" cancer, when this is not true at all according to the evidence. In fact, nobody really knows exactly what causes cancer, but what we do know is what lessens our risk of cancer. In the case of smokers developing lung cancer, ****"Would you believe that the real number [of smokers contracting lung cancer] is <10%?"(Siepmann, M.D.).
I propose that the medical findings of the risks of tobacco are blown out of proportion and fear mongered into the mass media by anti-tobacco firms - many of which having their origins and religious (***"Like many forms of state coercion, the anti-tobacco movement gained real political momentum only after the Civil War. Lucy Page Gaston began her anti-smoking career as a member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and later created the Chicago Anti-Cigarette Group and the National Anti-Cigarette League." ) or arguably racist ( backgrounds.

Tobacco products do carry risks, but so do every pharmeceutical drug which doctors choose to perscribe to their patients on a day to day basis. An infamous example of these is Adderall and Ritalin, which has been said to be comparible to cocaine (

I have provided a link to a list of other scientific findings (from, admittedly, a pro-smoking webpage) below, for the consideration of my opponent.
***the source of this statement:
*The eBook by Lauren Colby, attorney. "In Defense of Smokers".


Con Statement:

Smoking has the ability to harm nearly every organ in your body. Further, smoking can cause many diseases and reduces the general health of an individual.

Nearly 16 Million Americans suffer from a disease caused by smoking. Currently, tobacco use causes over 5 million deaths per year globally. The notion that smoking tobacco lowers a smoker's risk of Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease is completely trumped by the fact that the risks of those diseases could be reduced by healthier methods.

Smoking is not really all that popular, if it was, why do tobacco companies lace the cigarettes with nicotine? People do not smoke cigarettes for medical reasons, if they do, I would find it to be very rare. People are addicted to cigarettes, and they have trouble quitting. Tobacco companies target youth and hope they can create an addiction at an early age.

Have you seen the lungs of a smoker? Can you really tell me that inhaling smoke is in any way healthy for an individual?

The benefits of smoking do not outweigh the risk. Are you saying that I can be a healthier person if I start smoking, please explain. Every medical benefit you will bring forth through tobacco smoke could be attained by a healthier method.
Debate Round No. 1


Now both myself and my opponent have provided our stances on smoking, this debate will now be moving into the second round, where we both will be presenting our arguments. After this round, the negative cross examinations and rebuttals will begin.

Argument #1: Tobacco's medicinal history.

I would like to begin my first argument with an excerpt from an article from Dr. Mitch Fadel, PhD:

"Nicotiana tabacum is the main species of commercially grown tobacco today. Nicotiana quadrivalvis is a native species of the western North America. It grows wild from southern Oregon to southern California. It was also cultivated by Native North Americans. Lewis and Clark on their expedition up the Missouri River (1804-1805) found this tobacco being grown by the Arikara, Mandan, and Hidatsa Indians of South Dakota and North Dakota. Nicotiana multivalvis is another native tobacco of western North America cultivated by Native Americans. It was an important ceremonial and ritual smoke plant. Its distribution extended from the Pacific coast eastward. Here is a short list of various historical uses of tobacco. Most of these uses were taught to Europeans by the indigenous peoples all around the world that cultivated and used tobacco. Analgesic to alleviate pain, to treat parasitic worms, anticonvulsive, diaphoretic, diuretic, poultice for boils and insect bites, as an emetic, for various dermatological conditions like rashes, to treat colic, for kidney problems, to treat apoplexy, snakebite, toothaches, dizziness, fainting, as an antidote against other type of poisonings, to curb insanity and it was even used to try to cure tuberculosis."
The credentials of the author of this article may be found here:

I would like to argue that tobacco clearly has a medicinal history, as it was used for hundreds of years by native americans, then doctors of the United States throughout the 1800's, as a medicinal plant:

"Having suffered from periodic attacks of asthma since the age of nine, Proust was familiar with the range of contemporary treatments for the condition: over the years, he had been prescribed opium, caffeine, iodine, and morphine (which had once been injected by his father, Dr Adrien Proust), his nose had been cauterized numerous times, he had adopted a milk diet, and he had occasionally attempted to relieve both his asthma and his hay fever by visiting health resorts, such as Evian-les-Bains, on the shores of Lake Geneva. However, as his note to his mother suggests, Proust’s favoured remedy involved the inhalation of smoke from anti-asthma cigarettes or powders...Proust was not alone in attempting to relieve his asthma with medicated cigarettes or combustible powders. Throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the inhalation of fumes from burning preparations of stramonium, lobelia, tobacco, and potash became increasingly popular amongst asthmatics and their physicians throughout the world."
Author's credentials copy pasted here: "MARK JACKSON, *Mark Jackson, BSc, MB BS, PhD, Professor of the History of Medicine, Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter, Amory Building, Rennes Drive, Exeter EX4 4RJ, UK"

I would like to challenge my opponent to prove that tobacco has had absolutley no medical history.

Argument #2: Less smokers does not decrease cancer rates.

Contrary to what one would expect, as the rate of smokers has declined over the past century, the rates of cancer have actually gone up. I would like to point to the chart here:;
and here:
that cancer rates have indeed shot up within the past decades. I would like to argue that, clearly, if contracting cancer from smoking were so prevelant, but the rate of smokers has declined tremendously within the past several decades, why, I ask, are the level of cancer cases not declining? Why are they increasing? What is happening?

Furthermore, I would like to also point out that Japan is notorious for having high levels of smokers - and yet, they are also known for having higher levels of people with longer lifespans.

"Let's look at Japan. As we have seen, Japan is practically tied with Hungary for the highest rate of cigarette consumption in the world. It turns out, however, that the male LCDR [Lung Cancer Death Rate, "LCDR"] in Japan is 0.5%. That's approximately one-fifth the rate in Hungary; approximately one-third the U.S. rate. The LCDR for females in Japan is also astonishingly low, 0.2%. " (Colby)

The chart on the cigarette consumption and argumentively significant LCDR's in various parts of the world may be found here:

Argument #3: Doctors, too, perscribe perscription drugs which carry risks.

As I briefly mentioned earlier in my statement, Doctors are known for perscribing perscription drugs such as Ritalin and Adderal, and both of which have been tied to being quite similar to cocaine. I believe it goes without saying that cocaine is a much harder drug than the nicotine found in cigarettes, and yet Adderal and Ritalin are both perscribed by doctors to ADHD patients, despite the fact that these drugs. If we are to accept, then, that Adderal and Ritalin are harder drugs than nicotine, then we must admit that these doctors might as well be handing out cigarettes to children with ADHD.

"Using Adderall over an extended period can increase the risk of critical cardiovascular problems and strokes. There are also significant mental health issues associated with the long-term use of Adderall, such as depression, hostility and paranoia. In children, protracted use of Adderall may inhibit growth."

Argument #4: Tobacco smoking does carry some benefits.

And yes, doctors recognize these benefits too. This is something called "The Smoker's Paradox"
An example of Doctors reconizing "The Smoker's Paradox" can be found here:
And here:
And, on a more casual basis, here (although I contest "the numerous documented negative health effects of smoking" as it is referred to here):

I would also like to extend the link I posted once again, which is this:
Although I more strongly defend the arguments posted here which have hyperlinks attatched to them leading to research concerning health effects of smoking. I challenge my opponent to dispute the health claims of smoking, although more specifically in this debate, that
A: Smoking reduces the risk of Alzheimers (or possibly even 'cure' it:
B: Smoking reduces the risk of Breast Cancer.
C: Smoking reduces the risk of Parkinson's Disease.
D: Smoking improves Human Information Processing.

The debate will now be passed over to my opponent, who will express his/her arguments against smoking.


Premise of the Debate:

"The Benefits of Smoking Actually Outweigh the Risks."

It appears my opponent is taking a stance on the medical benefits of smoking. The CDC estimates over 1,000 people die every day as a DIRECT cause of tobacco smoke. Why do cigarette companies post warning label on their products?

I will not deny that tobacco has a medicinal history. Fortunately, it has a history, and it is not a common practice today. Medical practice has evolved over the years with the advancements in technology and the study of medicine. I am actually not surprised that at some point in history, tobacco was used as a form of treatment.

As for the treatment of asthma, modern medicine provides a much better alternative than smoking.

"I would like to challenge my opponent to prove that tobacco has had absolutely no medical history"

You don't need to challenge me on this because it has absolutely nothing to do with the topic. You made the claim that the benefits of smoking outweigh the risks. Are you making the claim that if people adopted smoking, more lives would be saved in the area of medical treatment?

As of 2012, 42 million people in the United States smoke, and over 300,000 died of a tobacco related illness. There was approximately 3,500 deaths caused by asthma in 2012.

The rise of cancer has nothing to do with tobacco smoke, and I would like to see how smoking tobacco is a better alternative to preventing cancer than eating healthy foods, and taking care of your body through natural means.

"Action on Smoking and Health? tells us that a 30-year-old smoker can expect to live about 35 more years, whereas a 30-year-old nonsmoker can expect to live 53 more years. The children of a parent or parents who smoke may be at risk from the genetic damage done to the parent before conception (because of their previous smoking), the direct effects to them in the womb, and the passive smoke they are exposed to after they are born.


The differences in life expectancy in Japan differs from that of the United States, but Japanese people do not live longer because they smoke more. Their diets are completely different, have you noticed the differences in the physical appearance of the average Japanese person? Almost 1/3rd of the U.S. is overweight which is higher than that of any other country in the world. To give tobacco credit for longer life expectancy is simply outrageous.

As you mentioned, tobacco smoke carries some medical benefits. However, there are alternate methods to achieving the exact same medical benefits. Eating healthier and having an active lifestyle are some examples of this. As for some deductive reasoning, if the benefits of smoking tobacco actually outweighed the risk, why don't more doctors advertise this concept?

You brought up the history of tobacco and medicine so here are some statistics.

Average Life Expectancy: Mid 1700's: 40 years old. Today the average life expectancy is over 70 years old. If tobacco was used to treat diseases in the past, it did not do a good job.
Debate Round No. 2


My opponent has conceded that tobacco does indeed have a medical history - no rebuttal on my part is needed.

"As for the treatment of asthma, modern medicine provides a much better alternative than smoking."
I never claimed that smoking should be used to treat asthma. This would be the equivalent of drinking alcohol (i.e. a Jack Daniels) on a daily basis in order to reap these medical benefits
when clearly there are better ways to improve your health than to be a drinker.

"You don't need to challenge me on this because it has absolutely nothing to do with the topic."
I disagree - I think that showing the medical history of tobacco is practical in that it depicts how tobacco has indeed been used in the past to treat medical issues. However, just as we don't use beer or liqour as an anesthetic, or on a daily basis in order to "lower the chance of diabetes" as it is said on the link on alcohol I provided above, I wouldn't recommend smoking in order to treat health problems. What I am proposing, and what I think I want to clarify is, that just like alcohol, smoking has it's benefits too.
This may sound a bit off topic, I would also like to inform my opponent that nicotine is not just found naturally in tobacco - it is also found naturally in many peppers and tomatoes.
So, nicotine is not the "bad guy" here - it a naturally occuring substance with some level of health benefits. So again, going back to smoking, there are reasonable amounts of nicotine in tobacco which, according to this article, can in fact decrease the smoker's risk of parkinson's disease.

"As of 2012, 42 million people in the United States smoke, and over 300,000 died of a tobacco related illness."
The problem with using a statistics in an argument is that statistics can easily be manipulated in order to defend an arguer's position. Statistics are often used in scare tactics in order to convince people to believe something which is "based in science". I took it upon myself to do a little math problem with my opponent's statistic in order to show this to the voters, and to my opponent, the percentage of smokers who died fm a smoking related disease in 2012. Here it is:

I plugged in the numerator as the total deaths as of 2012, and the denominator as the total smokers overall as of 2012.

300,000 deaths / 42000000 smokers = 0.007

Then, I multiplied the quotient by one hundred in order to find the percentage.

0.007 X 100 = 0.7%

Therefore, 0.7% of smokers died from a smoking related disease as of 2012, according to my opponents reference.
I would like to take this moment to accuse anti-smoking firms of using junk science and statistics in order to fear monger others into voting for smoking prohibitions and the like. Again, the diseases which may be caused by smoking are multifactorial, and could have been caused by anything.

I would also contend with my opponent's argument that smoking lowers the smoker's lifespan. Now, what I want to clarify is that I am not arguing that smoking increases longevity at all, but what I am arguing is that smoking has no effect on the smoker's lifespan. Some of the oldest people who have ever lived where chain smokers.
I defend my claim with this source:
and this source:

"...Japanese people do not live longer because they smoke more."

I completely agree with my opponent.

"Their diets are completely different..."

Again, I completely agree with my opponent.

My argument is that smoking has no effect on aging whatsoever, and the idea that it does, is more mythology than reality. It is, in casual terms, "an old wives tale". Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction.


You claim that smoking has it's benefits, but can one achieve those same medical benefits without smoking?

Does smoking damage your lungs in any way?

Now, based on the answers of those two questions, is it really reasonable to assume that the benefits outweigh the risk knowing that there are healthier alternatives to smoking?

I have no issue with your math, and .7 percent does sound like a low number until it is views differently. If you group about 130 people into a room, one of them will die from a smoke related illness. That is extremely high!

You might as well take your chances in a war zone. The chances of dying in Vietnam was .5% (1 in 185).

You made the claim that some of the oldest people were chain smokers. Yes, sometimes you will have people who will live very long. But, if you look at the average life expectancy, which is a more accurate representation, smokers have shorter lives. Do you deny that?
Debate Round No. 3


"You claim that smoking has it's benefits, but can one achieve those same medical benefits without smoking?"

Well, can one achieve the same benefits of alcohol without drinking? Of course, yes, but the benefits still remain.

"Does smoking damage your lungs in any way?"

Well, does drinking damage your liver in any way? In response to both of these quotes, I would compare cigarette smoking to drinking alcohol. There are benefits just as there are risks.

In response to death by a disease 'caused' by smoking being about as possible as dying in vietnam, I would respond that there are many risks in life which have many average statistics stating the chances we face of dying by them. In addition, according to this link: the chances of being killed by an act of violence, globally, is about 14% for men, and 7% for women, on average. A better example would be this list of possible ways to die, along with their statistical possibilities of happening:
some statistics shown here I want to hightlight include:
- 1 out of 6 chance of heart disease
- 1 out of 303 chance of car accident
- 1 out of 28 chance of stroke
- 1 out of 130 chance of accidental poisoning of toxic substances
There are many ways to die, and there are many different risks of death for many things which, statistically, have a good chance of happening by average.

As per my opponent's claim concerning averages in terms of life spans, I provide this example - lets say that there exists a drug which causes some people to die at age 25, and others to die at age 80. If we had an even number of each group of people, the average age of death for this drug would be approximately 52.5 years of age. So again, statistics are helpful, but they tend to be subjective as statistics do not always portray a clear picture of the circumstances because there can be many factors which influence the numbers in such a statistic. Another example is if I had three people stung by bees in one room, and they all turned out to be allergic and died from an allergic reaction, and I fallaciously delared that all bee stings must be venomously toxic - when this isn't really always true. So, in response to whether or not I deny your claim, I would say that I have a hunch that the statistics presented may not be showing a completely clear image of the situation.

So, as for my closing arguments, I would like to point out that life is full of risks. Crossing the street has risks, eating a quarter-pounder burger has risks, climbing a mountain has risks... the only way to escape risks is to never leave your house, but even then you're at risk for becoming a rather creepy person! The instant we walk out the door of our house, we enter a dangerous world which could kill us at any moment, but I believe that at the end of the day, we shouldn't let fear control us and keep us from living life. As Ferris Bueller had said in his famous movie, "Life moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

My opponent will now add his/her closing arguments to the debate, so the argument will finally be left up to the voters. I would like to thank my opponent for this debate and provide a vitual handshake for a very enlightening argument. I look forward to any debates we may have again in the future.



"Well, can one achieve the same benefits of alcohol without drinking? Of course, yes, but the benefits remain"

Let's not forget that your claim is that the benefits outweigh the risks. You just stated that you can achieve the same benefits through other methods. Why put your health at risk if you can take healthier preventative measures?

"Well, does drinking damage your liver in any way? in response to both of these quotes, I would compare cigarette smoking to drinking alcohol. There are benefits just as there are risks."

You have to remember that drinking and smoking are choices. One can choose to do both, therefore one can chose to not take the risk of damaging their lung or liver. The same health benefits can be achieved through healthier alternatives. Through that reasoning, it is fair to conclude that smoking is a greater risk than a healthier method at achieving the same health benefit. Remember, the topic is "Benefits of smoking actually outweigh the Risks". If you wanted your argument to be more affective, you should debate on the topic of "Despite some health risks, smoking also has some medical benefits". However that is not the topic of the debate.

As for the statistics you provided "1 out of 6 chance of heart disease", it's not relevant to the debate. Smoking is a choice! People can completely avoid the risks associated with smoking by choosing not to smoke. It's a risk that could be controlled. Strokes, accidents, heart disease, and accidental poisoning can be mitigated, but not fully prevented. A person can fully avoid the risks associated with smoking by choosing not to do it.

There is physical evidence that can be observed through an Autopsy that can prove that smoke damages a human lung. That damage along with other risks associated with smoking is a risk that can be avoided all together. My opponent did a great job identifying the few medical benefits of smoking, but that is not what we are debating over. The same health benefits that are seen in smoking can also be achieved through healthier means.

In conclusion, smoking still poses a risk. If there were no other alternative health benefits, your argument would have been quite convincing. However, that is not the case.

Thanks for the debate! I would gladly debate you again,
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Impact94 3 years ago
@IamLocke Now that the debate is over, to answer your question, I think that if tobacco leaves were smoked raw and in moderation (such as in a pipe, and only every once in a while), then some benefits could be sought from smoking tobacco as I mentioned in this debate... But, if someone is smoking packs of cigarettes a day, then it's most likely going to be a problem.
Posted by Impact94 3 years ago
@IamLocke For the sake of the voting period, I'll probably wait to answer your question - I don't want to jinx myself by saying the wrong thing at this period of the debate. I'll answer your question, but... not yet >_>
Posted by IamLocke 3 years ago
@Impact94 Just wondering, and if you'd like you can wait until the voting period is over to answer this question: do you actually personally believe that the benefits of smoking outweigh the risks?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by donald.keller 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro had real arguments backed with sources to make his case, while Con barely flipped a source or a convincing rebuttal.
Vote Placed by black_squirrel 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro cleverly manipulated statistics to his/her advantage. A death rate of .7% becomes significant after 10 or 20 years. Con was not very good at rebutting pro's arguments.