July 30th, 2009
10:35 AM ET

Why not prohibit smoking?

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/01/09/who.still.smokes/art.smoking.hand.gi.jpg"%5D

Tony Newman
Special to CNN

Cigarettes kill; 400,000 people die prematurely every year from smoking. When we analyze the harm from drugs, there is no doubt that cigarettes are the worst.

They kill more people than cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and all other illegal drugs combined.

More than 800,000 people are arrested every year for marijuana, the vast majority for possession, yet all the data from studies that compare the two substances show that cigarettes are more harmful to an individual's health. If we make these other drugs illegal, shouldn't we outlaw the leading killer?

Considering how we deal with less harmful drugs, making cigarettes illegal seems logical. Over the past decade, we have seen, in states from California to New York, increasing restrictions on when and where people can smoke - and even momentum toward tobacco prohibition.

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Filed under: Health Care
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Sabrina In Las Vegas

    I love Los Angeles for this reason...smoking is not allowed in public places.

    July 31, 2009 at 1:46 am |
  2. Susan Lewis

    A little regulation as far as chemicals and such is not a bad idea. I've quit and gone back many times (currently not smoking). While I know full well that smoking is a deadly habit, I sincerely feel that alcohol is a far more urgent issue. You can see a cigarette, you can smell it. You can choose to walk away. You don't know a driver is intoxicated until it is too late. You don't know a parent or spouse walking in the door is reeking drunk and spoiling for trouble until it is too late to get away, often your getting away and attempting to not engage/provoke only causes trouble anyway. As a child who had to live with a drunk, and who married her example, I really think you need to focus on alcohol. Seriously. A cigarette won't make me deadly behind the wheel, it won't make me hurt people who love me. It won't make me commit unspeakable acts I cannot recall later. That's the plain truth.

    July 30, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  3. Kara

    I agree cigarettes are disgusting and I personally wish they were illegal. But as stated-the government makes too much money off of them.
    At least states are moving in the right direction banning smoking in restaurants and bars. (although some states still havent done so which to me is ridiculous.) why should the rest of us need to smell and breath peoples smoke? Having lived in California, the rule about smoking away from buildings is a great rule as well. Its not fair for people who dont smoke, and hate the smell of it to have to walk through people's smoke and have it blown on them. Go somewhere else smokers-I dont want your cancer.

    July 30, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  4. Jim

    I smoke it is my only vise It is either that or buy bullets. everyone dies it is just a question of from what & when. I ain't dead yet.

    July 30, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  5. Bakari

    Seeing that the sell of tobacco is a business, someone is going to have to jump through alot of fire hoops to even attempt to ban cigarettes. I personally hate cigarette smoke, but I'm pretty sure my opinion doesn't matter. I say just raise the price of cigs to $15 per pack and $50 per carton. The government raises the price of gas, a necessity, something the people need to get back and forth to work and make money. What do we NEED cigarettes around for, what's the benifit?

    July 30, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  6. Shannon Patrick, DC

    Prohibition of alcohol didn't work. How would trying to prohibit cigarettes be any different? And the health effects of smoking have been advertised and messaged to the public for years. If of age, well informed Americans are choosing to smoke regardless of the negative research surrounding nicotine, it is their choice. Also, the price of a pack of cigarettes in Maryland went from $5.41 to $6.70 over the course of this summer alone. Look at it this way: smokers pay for health care.

    July 30, 2009 at 12:36 pm |
  7. Melissa

    I so completely agree. Cigarettes should be made illegal.

    Canada has made massive leaps against smoking by very slowly making it illegal and increasing the price of cigarettes (and the taxes they receive for them) by a huge amount. Cigarettes are slowly being phased out. A person is still free to smoke them, they just pay the price for doing so, and are no longer allowed to forcibly subject everyone around them to the smoke.

    In Alberta, for example, it is illegal to smoke inside any public buildings (including the colleges and universities) and within 20 feet of any door leading to a public area.

    Yes, people flipped out at the idea with each tiny change made, but they eventually got over it and found out it wasn't as bad as they thought.

    Cigarette smoking in Canada is down to about 24% of the population from the over 80% it was during the 1980's.

    The Canadian governments idea was quite brilliant and is succeeding beautifully in slowly making it socially unacceptable to smoke.

    In the US, I'm not sure it would work because most of the citizens seem to have this completely insane idea that anarchy is better than anything else.

    July 30, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  8. Heather,ca

    I heard a year or so ago that the number cause of cancer world wide is smoking. The problem is the tobacco industry makes a fortune on it and they have bribed enough of our government to look the other way. I'm all for banning it, but prohibition of drinking didn't go very well, it failed completely and led to the rise of organized crime who took advantage of it and a made a fortune.

    July 30, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  9. Isabel, Brazil

    Smoking kills. Everyone knows their curse, but to help the smoker quit smoking is very... very important. This is not an easy thing.

    July 30, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  10. Cindy

    No matter how many people cigarettes kill they will never be outlawed because it makes people and the government way too much money to do away with it.


    July 30, 2009 at 10:42 am |