Fast Company

What Happens If There Are Smoking Bans In Every State?

Filthy Habit by Silly Putty Enemies

It's only taken half a century or so, but the American public has finally realized and come to accept that inhaling additive-laden smoke--first or second-hand (or third-hand, even)--isn't the healthiest thing in the world. So over the past 10 years, 25 states and Washington, D.C. have implemented smoking bans in private sector worksites, restaurants, and bars. If the bans continue at their current rate, that number could balloon to include every state in the union by 2020, according to some simple math (25 states in 10 years equals 50 states in 20 years) from the Center for Disease Control.

Currently, there are only seven states with no smoking restrictions: Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Some of these--like tobacco-loving West Virginia--may never budge on smoking laws, but the tobacco industry should still be shaking in its cowboy boots. That's because, unsurprisingly, bans have a big influence on smoking rates.

In one CDC study, employees who worked in smoke-free workplaces were almost twice as likely to stop smoking as those who worked in places that allowed free-for-all smoking. And in New York City, smoking rates among adults dropped from 21.6% to 19.2% (approximately 140,000 fewer smokers) after the implementation of an all-encompassing smoking ban.

This is all well and good, but 88 million nonsmokers aged 3 and up are still exposed to deadly secondhand smoke each year. Remember:This is with bans in 25 states. Until the CDC figures out how to eliminate rebellious 13 year-olds and stressed-out office workers, people will continue to smoke and die from heart disease and lung cancer. Still, the tobacco industry may want to start thinking more seriously about manufacturing other kinds of cigarettes.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

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8 Comments

  • LIVESTRONG

    Great article! LIVESTRONG believes passing a comprehensive smoke free workplace law in every state by 2020 is a laudable goal, but we can do it earlier and save more lives!

  • harleyrider

    Smoking rates have remained unchanged since all this prohibition started.

    U.S. Smoking Rate Unchanged for Five Years | AccessRx.com Current ...Sep 8, 2010 ... But new statistics show, again, that the U.S. smoking rate is stagnant. ... Since 1986, the smoking rate in California has dropped 40% and the lung ... The CDC reports that smoking rates among U.S. smokers has leveled ...
    www.accessrx.com/.../smoking-r...

    1901: REGULATION: Strong anti-cigarette activity in 43 of the 45 states. "Only Wyoming and Louisiana had paid no attention to the cigarette controversy, while the other forty-three states either already had anti-cigarette laws on the books or were considering new or tougher anti-cigarette laws, or were the scenes of heavy anti- cigarette activity" (Dillow, 1981:10).

    1904: New York: A judge sends a woman is sent to jail for 30 days for smoking in front of her children.

    1904: New York City. A woman is arrested for smoking a cigarette in an automobile. "You can't do that on Fifth Avenue," the arresting officer says.

    1907: Business owners are refusing to hire smokers. On August 8, the New York Times writes: "Business ... is doing what all the anti-cigarette specialists could not do."

    1917: SMOKEFREE: Tobacco control laws have fallen, including smoking bans in numerous cities, and the states of Arkansas, Iowa, Idaho and Tennessee.

    1937: hitler institutes laws against smoking.

    SECOND HAND SMOKE IS A JOKE

    Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)...It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded." -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Sec'y, OSHA

  • Ella Robbins

    Perhaps this is nitpicking, but as an historian, I cringed when you opened the article with "It's only taken a half a century or so..." The Women's Christian Temperance Union was in existence for 50 years when the following August 1919 New York Times article was written, "Planned Amendment to Outlaw Tobacco":

    http://query.nytimes.com/mem/a...

    Consequently, I think we all know what will happen if there are smoking bans in every state:

    http://www.fdlreporter.com/art...

    Now that tobacco products are under FDA control, the anti-tobacco folks are advocating the banning of smoking on beaches "due to cigarettes containing heavy metals." Some years back, many states mandated that cigarette manufacturers add something to cigarette paper wrappers (FSC--fire safe cigarettes) to decrease the possibility of fires. FSC is essentially carpet glue, much more deadly than anything that was there before state government intervened to protect us all .

    So, if the FDA is happy to approve heavy metals and carpet glue in cigarettes, I wouldn't advocate legalizing marijuana. If legalized, they will undoubtedly become as dangerous to smoke or eat by government mandate as cigarettes. If cigarettes are banned everywhere, I predict that they'll become safer, cheaper, and easier to get, so I agree with the folks who think they should be made illegal. :)

  • Scott Byorum

    @Jayson... Wrong. There are over 4000 chemicals in cigarettes as opposed to 400 in pot. Pot is safe to eat, but tobacco is not. Pot is only "addictive" to substance abusers, who would just as soon use anything readily available, wheras cigarettes create the addiction through nicotine. Cigarettes are consumed 1/2 a pack to a pack a day or more on per user, wheras pot use is much more limited. As such, diseases are much less prolific from pot use than tobacco use. Yes, pot carries health risks (so do eggs and butter), but not nearly as much as tobacco use. You should really educate yourself before you post blanket (and ininformed) statements online.

  • Greg Zeng

    When a car crashes into you, is the driver more likely to be dosed on a sedative, or a stimulant? When a psychotic person stabs you, which drug will probably have brought on the psychosis? As a Pot user, you know the answer. When the super-THC drugs (ingested via lungs or intestines) gain wider circulation with 400 toxins, we will see as a population, what will happen to the foetus's, babies, children, crimes, accidents, medical complications that will follow.

    If THC is commercially produced, the marketplace competition will add more drugs: colors, flavours, etc. THC ("pot") will no longer be the unknown, minor drug as it is now. A few decades age, working in prisons, pot users were nicer than caffeine & nicotine addicts. But now there is SUPER-POT - another unknown drug.

  • Scott Byorum

    First, nowhere in my comment did I say I used pot.  You assumed I did ("as a pot user, you know the answer").  That assumptive approach carries through to the rest of your argument.  There is beer, wine, liquor, and grain alcohol (i.e. Everclear).  So did the "harder" alcohols create an unknown?

    All of these are more destructive to the things you mention (and it is "fetus" not "foetus") than pot.  And they were much more destructive when they were banned by the 18th Amendment.  Demand for an illegal product leads to organized crime and all of the sordid details that follow.  Look at the drug wars raging since the 80s.  An absolute time, money, life suck of catastrophic proportions... $500 per second and we have the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world.  You pay for this with your taxes.

    This does not mean everything illegal should be legalized, but the simple fact is that people like to escape.  They like to get high.  Most people do it responsibly.  A few do it irresponsibly.  That's going to happen if it is legal or not.  You will never irradicate that.  So, you can have it regulated and taxed by the government.  Or you can have it a major criminal enterprise, which it currently is (for something that is less harmful than alcohol).

    By the way, THC does not bring on psychosis.  People are psychotic or they are not.  Psychotic people often use drugs to dampen their psychosis (i.e. self-medicate).  You aren't going to have a wave of psychotic people suddenly tearing up civilization because pot is legal.  If anything, government will set regulations on THC levels.

  • Jayson Jordan

    It is too late in the game to start a prohibition on cigarettes--that really worked well with alcohol. Being a non-smoker who finds much disgust in cigarettes in general, I am all for non-smokers' rights, which is why I am for the smoking ban in public places. And non-smoking sections that aren't outside of a particular building don't work. It is absurd that Fast Company would suggest the idea of pot as a better alternative to tobacco, especially when cannabis is much worse than tobacco. Way to go Ariel Schwartz, you should be quite proud of yourself.

  • Deena McClusky

    There is a very simple solution here....make cigarettes illegal. While I know that taxing them is a huge revenue base it is quite likely that the savings in health care and administration costs would outweigh the benefits of the taxes. Maybe then I could stop seeing couples walking together holding their toddlers with one hand and a cigarette in the other....or stop having to clean a half dozen cigarette butts off my apartment patio because the idiot that lives above me stands on his balcony smoking like a chimney. Yes, I know people will scream smokers rights....but how about non-smokers rights?