Are Strict Bans on Tobacco Really the Best Way to Reduce Smoking?
Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell
What’s the Latest Development?
According to reports, the World Health Organization and its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control have pressured countries around the world to “denormalize” tobacco use and to punish the tobacco industry.” It has been compared to a similar act in the 1920s when America constrained alcohol. Consumers are aware of the effects of tobacco and alcohol use, yet many still choose to partake in these substance activities. Why? Well, for some people, it is euphoric; for others it is social. In many cases, people want what they cannot have, and they do what they are not supposed to do. It is human nature. To up and put a ban on something that has always been legal could actually make things worse. It takes away the right to choose. Certain states in the U.S. began prohibiting smoking inside public places; in order to smoke one had to go outside. If it was raining or very cold outside and someone wanted to light up a cigarette, they would have to choose whether or not to go outside to smoke. But, they had a choice. According to the article, Bhutan banned the sale of tobacco in 2004; Finland plans to go smoke-free by 2040; Iceland plans to make cigarettes available via prescription; France and Australia may induce price hikes. These are some of the ways to go about making smoking an inconvenience, and people may choose to cut back tremendously or abandon the habit on their own.
The article also suggests that if cigarettes were to become illegal, it will only aid an already thriving contraband market that reportedly—represents 11 percent of the global market. In addition, cigarettes could become amateur-generated and would become even more dangerous than professionally-engineered cigarettes.
What’s the Big Idea?
It is always a good thing to find ways to eliminate the use of substances detrimental to the consumer’s health—but is a global war on tobacco the answer? In theory, it has good intentions. There just needs to be a better way to go about it. Completely taking away the choice from people will only cause rebellion. People will go out and get it anyway—causing more harm to themselves. Maybe the World Health Organization and Framework Convention on Tobacco Control should enforce governments to use the majority of the money from the industry towards strengthening tobacco prevention programs and ad campaigns. Next, place more restrictions on areas where a person can no longer smoke; for example, in the street and in outdoor parks, etc. There are many ways that could possibly help deter people from smoking, but ultimately if a person wants to smoke they are going to do it. To outright “denormalize” tobacco use would be a step in the wrong direction. As for punishing the tobacco industry, they should be financially responsible for smoke-related illnesses.