Smokers rights benefit community

Nicotine fiends, your days of smoking in public may be numbered.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, by the year 2020, all 50 states could impose a smoking ban in bars, restaurants, parks, and the workplace.

Currently, 25 states and cities, such as Washington D.C. and San Francisco, have already enacted anti-smoking ordinances in which users may be cited for lighting one up in public.

Smoking is, after all, a choice, but those who choose to light up shouldn’t have to surrender all their rights to those of the non-smoking variety.

According to the CDC, states are welcoming bans to not only deter new users, but to also shield non-smokers in the area.

For every ban that goes into place, whether it’s in a bar, a restaurant, or school, there needs to be a designated smoking area. Without this, smokers risk being taken advantage of by the law.

Although the local and state governments intend to ban smoking in public as the right direction to protect the health of non-users, the ban fails to accommodate tobacco users who pay taxes.

Smokers are taxed 87 cents per 20-pack of cigarettes, according to the California Board of Equalization, 12 cents due to a cigarette tax as well as a 75 cent surtax. Out of the 87 cents,  10 of those go into the state’s general fund while 50 cents provide low-income child care programs throughout California.

The remainder of the funds go to anti-tobacco education as well as fire prevention and environmental conservation programs.

Smokers are already paying an elevated price to exercise their right to smoke through these high taxes, and they shouldn’t have to worry about being in the correct area on top of everything else.

In reality, unofficial smoking areas already exist. If you’re in a bar and California law states it’s illegal to smoke in that bar, you go outside to smoke.

While cigarettes are still being sold in this country, law-makers need to provide alternatives such as designated smoking stations for users, and they need to do so through laws similar to the ones in place to ban smoking, thus guaranteeing the preservation of smokers’ rights.

SF State’s designated smoking areas are the ideal example of how smokers can be accommodated while keeping the remainder of the campus tobacco-free.

Beginning fall 2004, the University became a smoke-free campus. Designated smoking areas were created at least 30 feet away from campus buildings. Smokers caught in prohibited areas were cited. Why not have a system like this everywhere?

Smokers normally abide by the rules because non-smokers are straightforward if bothered by the fumes. If a smoker is told to move, most would comply.

It just doesn’t make sense to ban an item when the government benefits from it financially. Cigarettes are already regulated based on age, making them nearly impossible for minors to purchase because of the requirement of an ID and scanners that detect fraudulent identification.

It is right to protect the lives of the innocent, the young who cannot defend themselves against second-hand smoke. However, what about offering smoking-friendly bars where non-users could expect to be surrounded by it?

Like alcohol, smoking cigarettes is a lifestyle that individuals choose, and it’s up to their discretion when and where they should do it as long as they comply to local and state laws.

It is like the government giving a gun to someone, which is legal, and telling them not to pull the trigger.

If someone is given it, they should know when and where is the right time to use it—or else not offer it at all.