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

Tobacco should be banned

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/23/2013 Category: Health
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,024 times Debate No: 36969
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (16)
Votes (4)




In this debate, I will be talking about why smoking should be banned or at least partially banned (i.e., illegal to sell). There are many risks to smoking that apply to both the smoker and the people who have to put up with secondhand smoke. No one likes the smell of cigarette/cigar smoke, and most smokers regret it later after finding out about what it does to the lungs (sometimes even seeing their own charred lungs through endoscope!) or developing cancer or emphysema. It is hard to quit. The solution is not to do it in the first place, and surgeon general warnings don't seem to do the trick. Society would benefit from a tobacco ban.


I accept. I will be arguing that tobacco should not be banned due to an individual's right to choose what to put into their body. If anything, tobacco should be regulated due to second hand smoke issues, but not completely banned.

Please state your case.
Debate Round No. 1


Tobacco should be banned slowly. At first, there will be great taxes and high regulations (i.e., no smoking in public), and then it will become stricter. Eventually a total ban of tobacco will come into play.

[An individual has a right to decide what goes into their body]
According to this argument, it should be okay to do cocaine, cannabis, bath salts, or drinking in excess. It's not just about the smoker, it's about the poor people who must be exposed to secondhand smoke. No one likes secondhand smoke, but most people have no choice because they have to go somewhere or are in a car. If you smoke at home, it could harm your roommate, family, or pets if you have any. You may not care about the health of those around you, but they do. If you live alone (no family or pets), it could harm whoever must walk into your house.

According to the CDC, tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death. More than 440,000 tobacco-related deaths occur per year in the US alone. Of these deaths, 49,400 are from secondhand smoke exposure.

Other risks:
- Various cancers
- Laryngectomy
-Use of an artificial larynx, AKA robot voice.
- Difficulty breathing
- Oral problems
-Bad teeth
-Bad breath
- Bad skin
- Cardiovascular problems
- Brain problems
- Reproductive problems

Many smokers were naive when they started. They thought "Oh hey, one won't hurt", and then they got hooked and regret it. Banning smoking will stop an addiction before it starts.

I coundn't find any reliable sources that listed benefits to smoking.



People have the right to harm their own bodies should they choose to do so.

While the government and private entities have the right to place public smoking bans, such as in certain restaurants and bars or on government owned property, the government has no right to prohibit people from using tobacco in private should they choose to do so. There is no legitimate legal basis for preventing people from smoking tobacco in the privacy of their own homes, where the dangers of second-hand smoke are nonexistent. There are plenty of ways that people commit self-harm that are perfectly legal, such as not getting enough sleep, eating too much or too little, getting no exercise, skipping medication, or taking on a high-stress workload. Should the government ban these things too?

The answer, of course, is no. If someone wants to harm themselves in the privacy of their own home, nobody has the right to stop them. So to answer the question that Pro posed to me in the second round, yes, it should be okay to do cocaine, cannabis, bath salts, or drinking in excess, just like it should be okay to eat too many fatty foods or skip meals. As long as these actions are done within the privacy of one's home, then these actions can only have consequences on the person doing them.

Second-hand smoke is not enough justification to completely ban tobacco

To completely eliminate the problem that second-hand smoke creates, all that is needed to be done is to put a restriction on where people can smoke. By eliminating the use of tobacco on public property, we in turn eliminate the dangers of second-hand smoke without completely banning tobacco. Like I said earlier, people still have the right to smoke in their homes where their actions harm nobody but themselves.

There is absolutely zero justification for a complete tobacco ban

My opponent stated that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. While this is true, the leading cause of preventable death in the world is Hypertension [1], or high levels of stress and high blood pressure. This is usually the result of stress-inducing jobs. Given my opponent's argument so far, I suppose we should ban high-stress jobs too, right? The number two cause of preventable death in the U.S is obesity, so I suppose we should also completely ban all food with high levels of trans fat and sugar.

Wrong. As long as an individual is not posing harm to others, they should be free to do whatever they want to themselves. If that means smoking tobacco or eating fatty foods or working a high stress job, then fine. These are all things that you should have the freedom to choose. I have the freedom to choose whether or not to smoke and I choose not to. But as soon as you let the government make that choice for you, then its just getting closer and closer to a nanny state that completely restricts what its citizens can and cannot do.

"The whole point of this country is if you wanna eat garbage, balloon up to 600 pounds and die of a heart attack at 43, you can! You are free to do so!" - Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation [2]

To summarize

Risk of self-harm is not a good enough justification for a complete tobacco ban. The threat of second-hand smoke is nonexistent as long as smoking is disallowed in pubic places, which means that a complete ban on tobacco is not required to solve this problem. Every citizen has the right to do what they want with their bodies, and the government or anyone else should not have any say in that whatsoever.


Debate Round No. 2


It is impossible to ban tobacco in the sense where you can't *use* it in your home, but you can ban the *sale* of it.

[There is no legitimate legal basis for preventing people from smoking tobacco in their own homes, where the dangers of SHS are nonexistent]
Sure, if you live alone in your own home (not an apartment), the dangers are nonexistent. If you have a girlfriend, wife, children, or if you live in an apartment, the dangers are higher.

"If you don't quit smoking for yourself, do it for your children"-Anonymous. Your children didn't choose you as a parent.

I do think a public ban is good (but a total ban would be better). Smoking releases thousands of toxins into the atmosphere, and countries with a stricter smoking ban (i.e., Ireland), have noticed a considerable change in air and living quality. It is easier to breathe, and bellows-driven devices (like filters and accordions) do not need to be cleaned as often. {1} {2}

There has to be a line between protection and rights. The majority of new smokers (destined to become hooked) are uninformed, think they're invincible, and/or don't think they will ever become hooked. Banning/regulating smoking will kill the habit. Smoking truly is a disease itself; we are fooled into it by our family and friends who also smoke.

If citizens have the right to put stuff in their bodies without being required to know what it does, should we just get rid of the FDA? Should we unban Red 2 and other toxic chemicals, and allow food joints to add as much trans fat as they want, simply because we are the ones (often unknowingly) choosing to harm our bodies? Should the government allow the sale of a sweetener known to be highly toxic, as long as there is a basic warning on the package? Should we allow dealers to ferment their stool and sell it as "Jenkem" on the street for a dollar (this exists in some parts of the world)?

Put yourself in the shoes of an asthmatic or allergy sufferer who must be exposed to the secondhand smoke, or someone who regrets smoking after losing their mouth or tar lungs. Look up how much tar is in a year's worth of cigarettes. Watch a video on how cigarettes are made. Look up "Pig lungs soaked in cigarette tar". Find out how much land is used for tobacco production; land that could have been used for feeding the growing population. Do you still want those cancer sticks in our society?

The ultimate question: Do you smoke?




Thanks for your response. It is important for the voters to note that the entirety of my opponent's argument rests on the argument that second-hand smoke is bad for non-smokers, and it is for this reason that tobacco should be banned. In this round, I will address this argument and thoroughly refute it.

There is no evidence that links second-hand smoke with adverse health effects.

To date, there is no significant scientific evidence that actually links second-hand smoke with adverse health effects. While smoking tobacco has been around for hundreds of years, the question of whether smoking had adverse health effects has only been around for a hundred years, and the question of whether second-hand smoke has adverse health effects for non-smokers has only been around since the early 70s.

The first major study on the adverse health effects of second-hand smoke was published by the EPA in 1993, which concluded that second-hand smoke has a causal link to lung cancer in non-smokers[1]. In fact, this is one of the only studies ever done on this subject, and it is because of this particular study that non-smoking laws have been on the rise since the mid 90s. It is also worth considering that almost every single health and science organization that discusses the adverse health effects of second-hand smoke, such as the Surgeon General, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and the American Hearth Association, all cite this specific study as their primary source [2].

So if almost every health and science organization in the world cites this study, then the facts this study presents must be true, right?


This study done by the EPA was actually overturned by a federal judge in North Carolina [3]. The judge ruled that the EPA's findings in this study were based on limited evidence and the study "adjusted established procedure and scientific norms to validate the agency's public conclusion". In fact, the EPA published the conclusion for this study before it was even over [4].

Dominick Armentano, a research fellow at the Cato Institute, analyzed the study and concluded that: "The EPA simply set aside 19 of the original constellation of 30 ETS (Environmental Tobacco Smoke) studies and then, defying all scientific standards, simply changed the “confidence levels” in the statistical analysis from 95 percent to 90 percent. When the highly manipulated smaller sample finally “confessed” that passive smoking was a health risk, the EPA proudly announced it had “proven” its preconceived conclusions." [5]

I don't know about you, but to me, this sounds pretty terrible. The EPA put its own interests before any sort of scientific integrity and flat out lied to the public. And because of this display of complete dishonesty, hundreds of anti-smoking laws were put into place to account for the non-existent danger of second-hand smoke.

At this point you may be thinking, "The EPA study couldn't have been the only significant study done on second-hand smoke". And you would be right. The World Health Organization also published a study in a 1998 press release entitled "PASSIVE SMOKING DOES CAUSE LUNG CANCER, DO NOT LET THEM FOOL YOU". However, upon actually reading the attached report, anyone could read the conclusion which clearly stated: "Our results indicate no association between childhood exposure to ETS and lung cancer risk. We did find weak evidence of a dose-response relationship between risk of lung cancer and exposure to spousal and workplace ETS. There was no detectable risk after cessation of exposure." [6][7]

To summarize, there is absolutely no credible scientific evidence that can causally link second-hand smoke to adverse health effects, such as lung cancer. I'm not proclaiming that there are no adverse side effects to second-hand smoke, but there is no evidence of it. And because there is no evidence to suggest that any of Pro's claims are true, then no law should be made banning tobacco based on these claims.

To conclude my argument, I will answer Pro's question. No, I do not smoke. I hate the smell of smoke and I am pretty disgusted when walking into bars or restaurants that allow it. But just because I don't like a certain activity, it does not give me the right to ban it for everyone else as well. My personal comfort is much less important than the freedom of others. Ultimately, smoking is an activity that individuals are free to participate in if they so desire. And yes, there is plenty of scientific evidence that demonstrates that smoking is pretty bad on your body, and will drastically shorten your lifespan. But this country is based on the principle that you are free to do whatever you want as long as it doesn't impact the well-being of others. And because there is no evidence that second-hand smoke is actually bad for non-smokers, it would be completely ridiculous and unconstitutional to put a law in place that bans smoking.


6. (full report)
7. (abstract of report with the conclusion)
Debate Round No. 3


Show me the Constitutional amendment that says a ban on the sale of cigarettes is unconstitutional. It's not the first, since free speech doesn't cover odors. It's not the fourth, since we wouldn't have to break into homes to stop the sale of tobacco. It's not the 21st, that is about alcohol. Despite popular belief, there is no verse in the Constitution that straight-out says "You may do whatever you want."

Many things have been around for dozens, if not hundreds, of years, but are now illegal or discouraged to sell because of recent science. For example, lead-based gasoline, lead crystal glass, and asbestos. A ban on the sale of tobacco would put an end to this needless, deadly, and highly-addictive ritual. When people smoke, they don't gain anything, other than a satisfaction of an addiction that wouldn't even exist if they haven't tried it in the first place. Kill it at the source. There will be no new smokers if there is no place for them to get cigarettes.

People who are already hooked can be weaned by therapy, or by using of the many cigarette alternatives, such as Nicorette or E-Cigarettes.


Thanks for responding. It is important at this point to acknowledge that Pro has completely dropped and disregarded his argument about second-hand smoke. It can thus be assumed that this argument is no longer a factor in this debate.

The government has no right to restrict personal choice

At this point in the debate, I'm having trouble understanding why Pro is still arguing in favor of a smoking ban. I have already proven that there is no real scientific evidence that links second-hand smoke with adverse health effects, which means that the only people who are negatively affected by smoking are the smokers themselves. Pro is trying to argue that because of tobacco's negative effects on tobacco users, the government should ban it completely. But what would happen if we took this logic and applied it to other things that aren't good for you? Let's explore everything that would be banned if we applied Pro's logic to everything else in the world:

  • Food with an excess amount of sugar
  • Food with an excess amount of sodium
  • Food with an excess amount of fat
  • Alcohol
  • All prescription medicine with high-risk side effects
  • High-stress jobs
  • Unemployment (which leads to high levels of stress)

At this point, you may be thinking "Hey, I like some of these things! Just because other people don't like them doesn't mean they should be banned completely!” I wholeheartedly agree. Everything I listed above are things with negative side effects. Sugar and salt may taste good and might make you feel better for a little bit, but using them too much will lead to obesity and other health problems. In the same way, smoking may feel good, but doing it too much will inevitably lead to other health problems, such as lung cancer.

The fact of the matter is that people have the fundamental right to do what they want with their bodies, and it is this point that Pro has completely failed to address. If you want to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day and get lung cancer, you can. If you want to eat fast food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and die at age 40 of a heart attack, you can. If you want to get drunk every night and become a complete alcoholic, you can (as long as your alcoholism isn't hurting anyone else). You should be free to make these choices for yourself. The government has no right to step in and make these decisions for you. It's just a matter of simple freedoms, nothing more.

Addressing Pro's argument

Throughout this debate, Pro has abandoned most of his arguments, and his one and only defense has now boiled down to this statement: "Many things have been around for dozens, if not hundreds, of years, but are now illegal or discouraged to sell because of recent science". While this is true, let's take a look at the examples he has provided: Lead-based gasoline, lead crystal glass, and asbestos. The reason those three things are illegal is because they have unintended side effects for people who do not use them. You can't use lead-based gas in cars anymore because of its effects on the environment, which affects everyone, not just those driving cars. Lead crystal glass isn't even illegal in the United States, so I'm not sure what Pro's point is about that. You also can't use asbestos in buildings because of its unintended side effects and the fact that asbestos material affects everyone, not just the owners of the building.

This is the main difference between Pro's examples and tobacco use. Like I have already demonstrated, tobacco use has zero negative health effects on those who choose not to use it. Sure, tobacco smoke may smell bad or irritate you, but besides that, there is nothing wrong with tobacco smoke. This is why tobacco does not fall into the same category as asbestos, because tobacco use only affects the user, not the bystander.


As far as the constitutionality of this issue, I am indeed aware that the Constitution does not literally say "Cigarettes cannot be banned". Did you honestly think that's what I meant?

No, there is no literal text in the constitution that says anything about tobacco. But in this case, it isn't about your right to smoke tobacco in public places; it’s about your right to smoke it in private places. If you own a piece of private property, you should be allowed to do whatever you want with it. You could use this land to open up a store, build a house, or even erect a monument to Adolf Hitler if you really wanted to. That’s completely up to the property owner. This is called “economic ownership” of property.

The Founding Fathers upheld the economic view of property. They believed that private property ownership, as defined under common law, pre-existed government. The state and federal governments were the mere contractual agents of the people, not sovereign lords over them. All rights, not specifically delegated to the government, remained with the people–including the common-law provisions of private property.”[1]

What does this mean? Simply, the government should not be able to tell you how to use property that you own. Although this is not explicitly stated in the Constitution, it’s a basic principle that the Founding Fathers had in mind when writing it.

To summarize

Pro has not given a remotely adequate reason to permit the government to make these kinds of choices for us. Yes, smoking tobacco is bad for you, but so are a ton of other things that are perfectly legal to put inside your body. Until Pro is able to account for this discrepancy, this point of argument should be put into Con's favor.

We can all agree that smoking tobacco is bad for the individual that chooses to do so. But as I have shown, there is no evidence that can demonstrate that smoking tobacco is also bad for the bystander. Thus, the only reasonable conclusion to arrive at is not to ban tobacco. It is a product that people should be free to use or not to use. The government has no place in making that decision for us.



Debate Round No. 4


Since when did a ban on the SALE of cigarettes affect the rights to economic ownership?

It is illegal to sell plutonium to non-professionals. Should we make it legal to sell because of the economic ownership principle?


I don't think you understand the point of my argument.

Tobacco is a legal product. In order to ban it, you need to find a basis to remove that legality. So far, you have offered only a few opinions on why this legality should be removed:

1) Tobacco is bad for you
2) Second-hand smoke is bad for bystanders

To which I responded with:

1) Just because something is bad for you, doesn't mean it should be banned. Sugar is a great example of this.
2) There is no scientific evidence linking second-hand smoke with adverse health effects to nonsmokers.

To win this debate, Pro was supposed to provide enough valid reasons as to why the legal status of tobacco should be removed. Two reasons with scanty logic at best is simply not enough justification to ban tobacco.

Keep in mind, Pro, that this debate is whether or not tobacco SHOULD be banned, not whether or not it COULD be banned. Of course, the government can ban whatever it wants to. But should they? Absolutely not.

To answer your question in the last round, economic ownership applies to property rights. Earlier in this debate, you said that smoking on private property would be fine with you except for the problem of second-hand smoke. I demonstrated that second-hand smoke was not a problem, thus, it should be completely fine to smoke on private property, like you said earlier in this debate. The argument about economic ownership was simply a follow up to that.

To summarize this debate:

I have provided enough justification to demonstrate why tobacco should remain legal. I have made arguments stating that the government should not be allowed to decide what you choose to put inside of your bodies, which Pro never responded to. I have dismissed the myths about second-hand smoke and demonstrated that there is, in fact, zero scientific evidence supporting the idea that second-hand smoke is actually harmful to non-smokers, which Pro never responded to.

Pro has resorted to using the same two arguments this entire debate, and I have thoroughly refuted both of these. Thus, there is no reasonable justification to ban tobacco.
Debate Round No. 5
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Mrparkers 5 years ago
I find it interesting how many of the users who commented on this debate made accounts only so they could do so.
Posted by redvelvetcake 5 years ago
I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with tobacco, its all the chemicals that are added to the tobacco that I have a problem with. Chemicals that cause cigarettes to burn faster and users to crave harder. AFAIK, all of the health studies have only dealt with big name tobacco products and never the fresh stuff you might buy at your local tobacco shop and roll into your own cigarettes.

Ban tobacco products? No. The additives that go in them? Absolutely.
Posted by ashley9716 5 years ago
no, that's just crazy. if you ban tabacco then people are just gonna smoke other things and then their gonna find other ways to get it, why ban it? just put rules on it.
Posted by Mrparkers 5 years ago
Not to mention... if you look at citations 6 and 7 of my Round 3 post, you'll see a study which agrees with the assertions I made in that round.
Posted by Mrparkers 5 years ago
countzander - I would love for you to show otherwise. The two studies that I talked about are the primary source for all anti-smoking agencies in the United States.
Posted by Mrparkers 5 years ago
If you had read the debate, you would have seen me demonstrate that there is no scientific evidence that links second-hand smoke with any adverse health effects. With that being said, I am fully aware of all of the adverse side effects of using tobacco. That is why I choose not to use it. However, there are people who choose to use it, and they have every right to do so. People have the right to inflict self-harm on their bodies should they choose to do so. If you don't want that happening to you, then don't use tobacco. But, as I have said multiple times, just because you do not personally like something, does not mean legislation should be enacted against it. And so far, nobody, either in my debate or in these comments, has been able to provide sufficient justification for a complete tobacco ban.
Posted by AaronDIJ 5 years ago
Tobacco has been evident in the human evolution and culture since John Rolfe settled in Jamestown in the 1600s. And ever since it has firmly held a grip on our lives and influenced the American culture from a young age. Every year thousands are killed and hundreds of thousands are diagnosed with second hand smoke and lung/mouth cancer all repercussions from the effect of tobacco in our bodies. Using tobacco is a choice, a choice that we are all entitled to chose. However what we have to ask our selves is , is that one cigarette worth it? Is it worth the cancer? Is it worth the pain and agony you cuase your family? Is it worth it? Honestly I would like to see my kids and their kids and by using any tobacco product you are handing your selves into that hands of death.
Posted by Mrparkers 5 years ago
I don't understand where all of this opposition is coming from. If you don't like tobacco, then don't use it. It really couldn't get any simpler than that. Just because you personally do not like something, does not give you the right to request a complete ban of it. Pro, and everyone who is disagreeing with me in the comments, has made it very clear that they don't like tobacco, but still failed to provide justification for a complete ban of it. Like I said, I dislike churches, should those be banned as well?
Posted by HBSCAU 5 years ago
Tobacco consists of as many bad elements as a poison. It's Totally bad for our body. Because I was also a smoker before, I know the feeling tobacco gives us. However, after stopping it, the better feeling came to me. I don't know it will happen to ban tabacco, but if it is implemented, I will welcome it with my arms spreading beside.
Posted by Mrparkers 5 years ago
A few people wanting a smoking ban to be enacted does not give the government any more right to enact it. There are smokers who like smoking and enjoy doing it. Tobacco is a perfectly legal product, and just because some people don't like it, doesn't mean legislation should be passed against it. I personally don't like churches. Should the government ban those too?
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by ooberman 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I still think tobacco should be banned, and pot allowed. I thought Con made a better presentation and argument, but it still wasn't convincing.
Vote Placed by Greematthew 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: All arguments go to con for stating well thought out and reasonably sized rebuttals. Pro made a few good points but a lot of his arguments were short and a few sentences. Con also SHOULD have talked about the importance of the economy that tobacco plays.
Vote Placed by countzander 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I agree with Pro, but he didn't handle the debate well. He should have been more aggressive toward Con's libertarian sentiments. He also should have fact-checked Con's argument. Con made assertions that are explicitly false, especially his claim the second-hand smoke has no evidence of causing cancer. The scientific consensus is that SH smoke does cause cancer. This is not based upon a single study by the EPA or outdated research.
Vote Placed by bsh1 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro comments got progressively worse, leading to a Con vote.