Ban on Public Smoking at the National Mall Regardless of location, everyone deserves to have certain liberties. As long as these liberties do not impede upon the liberties or safety of others, then they should be exercised within reason. Everyone has a right to choose which risks they will take and which they will not. Smoking poses safety, environmental, and social consequences. Because everyone deserves the right to choose which consequences and health hazards they want to be exposed to, all outdoor public smoking on the National Mall should be banned.
The safety hazard that public smoking poses is second hand smoke. Because of the wind and elements that outdoor smokers are exposed to, outdoor smoking in public places causes drifting smoke (second hand smoke). Since there is no such thing as “safe second hand smoking”, any person that is down or up wind of someone who is smoking is automatically exposed to the smoke. The person that is exposed to the second hand smoke may be a non-smoker, a cancer patient (in remission from lung cancer, as a result of smoking), or a child.
Regardless of who they are and what they choose to do, they should not have to be exposed to second hand smoking. No one should be exposed to second hand smoke against their will, even if briefly. Smokers have rights, just as non-smoker do. Their right to smoke is not being taken away by a ban on outdoor public smoking on the National Mall. While certainly everyone has the right to expose themselves to whatever hazard they would like to, be it cigarettes, alcohol, or even illegal drugs, no one has the right to present someone else with hazards without their consent.
Yes, everyone has the right to choose whether or not they will smoke. However, those that are exposed to second hand smoke in public places do not have the right to choose. Smoking in a private setting is acceptable as exposure for others is made when they choose to stay and exposure is limited. Typically in bars or taverns where smoking may be allowed, children are not allowed there. The social consequence of smoking is that it sets a bad example for children.
As the future of society, they should have examples that model what the future should look like. Smoking undoubtedly causes lung cancer and many other health concerns. To expose a child to images of smokers is the choice of the parent and should not be left to the public. By smoking in public areas, especially those that are family and school attractions like the National Mall, children are not only exposed to the health hazards of second hand moke, but they are also exposed to the unhealthy images that can mislead them to think that smoking is “cool”. Limiting their exposure to smokers will de-normalize the image for them. Additionally, children may be exposed to the littering and harmful effects that public smoking has on the appearance of the Mall as well as the effects it has on wildlife. Parents who travel to the Mall should be able to enjoy their experience without exposure to the adverse practices of others.
Yes, parents can choose what images and impressions they leave with their children whether it pertains to media, people, or habits. There are some parents who are smokers and it is still their choice whether they choose to expose their children to it, not the choice of others. However, as a student visitor to the National Mall, not only is a choice not given to go on a field trip (because a grade may be pending an assignment that this trip completes) on which second hand smoke exposure could happen, but the impression that is left is long lasting.
Ultimately, parents should be able to choose what they want to expose their children to. Banning public smoking on the National Mall would help parents control what they expose their impressionable children to. When liberties have long-term effects on public health and impressionable children, boundaries must be set. Regardless of the law, smokers should be considerate of the space of others. With the use of tobacco products comes a duty to respect others’ health and safety.