Smoking Ban in Charleston, South Carolina

Even though there are different dangers posed by smoking, people still smoke for several reasons. Some do so for social reasons and some do so because of their addiction to nicotine. The danger posed by smoking, however, is not limited to the smoker. Second-hand smoke is even more dangerous for pregnant women, children and anyone not smoking. Smoking may cause several lung-related diseases such as emphysema, cancer, and may complicate tuberculosis (HealthScotland, 2007).

Anti-Smoking Regulation at Charleston

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In recognition of these dangers, cities and other local governments now prohibit smoking in public. On June this year, Charleston, South Carolina passed a legislation prohibiting smoking. This ordinance was approved by 9-4 in January this year. As a direct consequence of this law, enclosed spaces in Charleston should be smoke-free. This includes bars, restaurants, offices and meeting room among others. This ordinance has very few exceptions and is meant to be implemented strictly. Smokers may still smoke but the smoke from their cigarettes should not enter the buildings. Hence, smoking in front of windows and alleys are prohibited (Brady, 2007).

Part of this regulation is that no more than 25% of rooms and buildings should be allocated for smokers. In private residences, medical research, places that retail tobacco, and performers, smoking may be allowed. The punishment for violation is $1000 and imprisonment of up to 30 days.

This regulation was met by mixed reactions. Some people lauded the ordinance for health reasons and the obvious benefits that a smoke-free city brings. However, the owners of restaurants, bars, and other establishments that cater to smokers were obviously against the regulation. They reason out that their patrons might go to other places where smoking is allowed. Other smokers, however, say that their civil rights are being violated by this regulation.

According to Brady (2007), this regulation should be in place because of the different diseases caused by smoking. This anti-smoking regulation is passed because of public health. The workers at bars and restaurants who do not smoke should not be subjected to the more dangerous second-hand smoke. If anti-smoking regulations were to be repealed, then other similar laws that regulate the behavior of people should also be repealed.

Arguments against the Smoking Ban

Understandably, there are sectors in the society that are against to the smoking ban. Bars and restaurants, as well as the sellers of tobacco are among these groups. Smokers also argue that the business owners should not bear the cost of such a regulation and it would be up to them to allow smoking in their facilities or not (United Pro Choice, 2007).

The argument does not stop there. Advocates for smoking even question the very foundation why anti-smoking bans are being promoted all over the United States. They argue that smoking does not really causes the diseases held to be caused by smoking. They say that such arguments slant the truth and are meant to promote such anti-smoking bans (United Pro Choice, 2007).
The bottom line argument, however, seems to be that smokers are being prohibited to exercise one of their social rights, which is the choice they have for smoking. The opposition to the smoking ban has spilled over to legal action. Smokers have even challenged the regulation in courts.

In other counties, the anti-smoking regulation is being challenged in courts. This is the case at Allegheny County where RJ Reynolds, a tobacco company, helps restaurants and other affected people sue the local government for the anti-smoking regulations they implemented (Banks, 2006). It would appear therefore that the move to question such regulation is motivated by economic reasons and disregard for the overall health of those who do not smoke.

Solutions and Conclusions

It is alright for people to choose to smoke. However, such choice affects other people through second-hand smoke. Local governments, such as Charleston, have the right to regulate an activity that may harm other people in the society over the long run, especially if the majority supports this regulation.

However, it might also be necessary to accommodate the contention and the protests of smokers regarding their rights. As such, a meaningful dialogue should be entered into by the government and by those who are negatively affected by the regulation so that a middle ground would be arrived at.

As a non-smoker, this author supports the anti-smoking prohibition for health reasons. However, the regulation may be fine tuned so as to designate special areas where smokers can smoke should they wish to provided that they do not cause non-smokers to inhale second-hand smoke. In the society, there are different views and opinions and part of the task of the local government is to look for means where these opposing views are processed and accommodated.

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