Smoking is considered by some to be a right. However, this choice poses health risks to others, especially when smokers light up in public areas. Medline Plus estimates that the United States would see 18,000 fewer heart attacks within a year if each state passes a complete ban on smoking in public places. In addition, public tax dollars would be saved. Taking these facts into consideration, it is safe to assert that the benefits of smoking bans far outweigh the inconvenience they pose to smokers.
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Almost all states have passed some form of legislation to ban smoking in public areas. In fact, Medline Plus reports that as of May 2010, 39 states had some type of ban in place. According to Medline Plus, 26 of these states have banned smoking in all public places. These include offices, restaurants, medical offices, college campuses and other outdoor areas.
Smoking itself is linked to a variety of diseases of the heart, lungs and mouth. Secondhand smoke primarily affects your cardiovascular system. The Mayo Clinic explains that when you inhale secondhand smoke, its chemicals irritate and inflame your arteries. Frequent arterial inflammation can cause constriction, causing a decrease in blood-flow to the heart. These symptoms are what lead to a heart attack. Smoking bans help reduce the amount of secondhand smoke you are unwillingly exposed to.
The American Heart Association reports that secondhand smoke increases emergency room visits for cases of chest pains and heart attacks. The Association also asserts that smoking bans decrease the amount of such emergency room visits. Emergency room visits are expensive, and some of the expense is covered by insurance companies and tax payers. A decrease in emergency room incidents saves money. In fact, Medline Plus reports that the United States would save $92 million in one year’s worth of emergency room costs if each state implemented a public smoking ban.
Smoking at Home
If you are in public places often, then smoking bans will likely benefit your health immensely. However, they will not necessarily help you if you are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke at home. If you live with a smoker, the Mayo Clinic suggests that you at least ask him to step outside when smoking. This will reduce your chances of carcinogen exposure. Also, the Mayo Clinic explains that this is an especially pertinent measure to take if you have had a heart attack in the past, as avoiding smoke exposure will reduce your chances of a second attack.
Some people are under the misconception that smoke exposure outdoors is not dangerous to others, as opposed to indoor smoking. Although the unhealthy effects of smoke are more prevalent indoors, outdoor smoke exposure is not safe. In fact, the American Heart Association points out that no amount of secondhand smoke is safe, no matter how small. For this reason, Medline Plus urges that all states ban smoking in indoor places as well as outdoor public places to protect non-smokers.