Instigator / Pro

On Balance, Smoking Should be Criminalized in US


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

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After 2 votes and with 5 points ahead, the winner is...

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Contender / Con

*cracks knuckles* let's do this. This can include E-cigarettes, or marijuana.

Smoking: the act of inhaling and exhaling the fumes of burning plant material.

Criminalized: punishable by law

Round 1
Since I am 99% sure I have no chance of winning, I hope Danielle is fine with self-plagiarism.
A frail, old man hunches alone in a dark, gloomy room. Smoke rises from his dry, cracked lips, smothering his face. He had no friends--all earlier ones given up-- due to his terrible breath and yellow teeth. And what did he have to gain? Lung cancer, kidney malfunction, hospital fees rising to the thousands, cigarette packs putting a dent in his budget every year. He regretfully stares at the blank wall, wishing he could undo it all, wishing he could prevent his first cigarette. Alas, it is too late-- he coughs with some effort and takes his last breath as the white cylinder sucks his life and soul away.

Cigarettes. Such is the name of the terrifying assassin. Six million victims die annually from smoking, the number-one cause of preventable death in the U.S. The deaths are even more than those from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, and firearm-related incidents combined. It is always a dreadful scene to see those related to mourning victims at the somber funeral. Crestfallen families think of it as their fault that they could not prevent their family members' deaths. No one should smoke, because it is hazardous for health as well as safety.

1st hand: Basics
First of all, cigarettes contain greater than seven thousand dangerous chemicals in it when burned, and at least 70 are known to cause cancer. A person’s overall health diminishes as a result. First-hand smokers practically transform through gaining yellow teeth, skin, and fingernails, some losing their teeth from their bad habits. Smokers are also known to get headaches, lung cancer, and bad breath. Furthermore, they have greater chances of a heart attack or having a nonfunctional kidney. Other diseases, such as the cancers of the lung, esophagus, bladder, pancreas, and stomach, among other body organs, as well as acute Myeloid Leukemia, are all possible outcomes. There are still yet further adverse effects on women, as they have the effects of obtaining Preterm (early) delivery, Stillbirth (death of the baby before birth), Low birth weight, Sudden infant death syndrome (known as SIDS or crib death) Ectopic pregnancy, and can even have Orofacial clefts in infants when pregnant. Smokers are immensely sacrificing their real bodies just for pleasure. But this is illogical-- being physically well for life is much more important than the momentary satisfaction smoking brings.

1st hand: Addiction
Cigarettes not only weakens the human body, but it also adds a terrible chemical called Dopamine into the brain, enhancing an addiction. Sufferers tend to feel like a hole is missing from their lives, thus causing paranoia, a suspicious personality, leading to an overall withdrawal from social situations. Eventually, the feed on Dopamine can cause irregular blood flow and cause mental disorders, leading one to become psychotic or insane. It can also overwork the brain as Dopamine is usually created from electric signals in the brain. Other much less harmful activities exist, supplying just the right amount of Dopamine; we need only look for them. Music, exercise, merely spending time with family can bring such pleasure, and none of these activities are remotely dangerous. Such an addictive behavior ought not to dominate one's life.

2nd hand: Environment
To add-on to the self-effacing effects, smoking outside leaves casualties to breathe in this pollution too. In the United States, two out of five adults do not smoke, yet secondhand smoke affects half the children, and statistics show 53,800 in total die every year from exposure alone. It is clear: these secondary effects can infringe on citizens' rights. The damage does not stop there; third-hand smoking exists. Tobacco can linger in the air for a long time after smoking stops, and stay on our clothes. Many dangerous chemicals form from third-hand, such as carcinogens and heavy metals, like arsenic, lead, and cyanide. Sticky, highly toxic particulates, like nicotine, can cling to walls and ceilings. Not only so, but these chemicals can also re-emit back into the air and recombine to form harmful compounds. The side effects are too powerful for people and the environment.

Would you believe if someone told you tobacco was a thief too? It drains the money from everyone, as well as the government: merely one pack a day can accumulate to the costly $2000 yearly. Businesses also have to suffer from the loss of workers. In only one-year, California lost more than $18.1 billion due to a lack of productivity and health care costs. Because of the massive harms and damage, patients have to check every two or three months to make sure their body is healthy. If they are not, then they have to spend massive amounts of unnecessary money. In England, 400,000 people quit smoking due to banning smoking in public areas. Nearly two-fifths (39%) of all smokers said the ban had helped keep them out of a hospital. These statistics show that unlike Prohibition, more support the government than not, and as such, its command of banning smoke across the country should continue.

This killer’s loitering is quite deadly. Cigarette butts may become accidental arsonists so to speak. Greater than 7,500 smoking-related house fires occur each year, the statistic that goes together with the fact that it is the leading cause of house fires. These house fires have killed up to greater than 1,000 every year. Those who survived were largely injured, not to mention property loss alone is worth up to half a billion. In the bigger picture, the human pain, suffering in addition to health care costs up to a hefty 4 billion dollars. Not only so, but a study also finds hay within one-third of its trials catching on fire from cigarette butts. According to the National Fire Protection Association, these cigarette butts caused about 12 percent of outside fires. It remains evident; even if one does not care about their health, sickness, they should at least fear the ignition of fires, and ultimately, property as well as life loss from the aftermath.

For one, to dry tobacco, each year, up to 600 million trees provide for tobacco. Forests prevent floods and droughts; they bring us fresher air and slow global warming and unhealthy air pollution. Not only can forests being harmed, but sea creatures are harmed too, as they can accidentally eat a cigarette and die as a result. These cigarettes, when thrown into the ocean, take 12 months to break down in freshwater—and an estimated five years in saltwater. The amount not properly disposed of is almost as much as the people in the world-- 7 billion! We destroy wildlife as a result of these cigarette butts. Evidence finds cigarettes within the stomach of young birds, and sea turtles as well. Merely in the state of California, the government has to spend $41 million annually to compensate and be able to clean up. The environment is part of us; it is essential to our lives.

Pre-emptive counter-arg
Many believers of liberty against the banning of smoking say citizens have the freedom of choice. For the first time, it may seem so—anyone can stop themselves once they see the terrible effects. But what about those young first-timers who are unaware? Immediately they are trapped into a mess which they cannot escape, involving the aforementioned chemical Dopamine. Cigarettes are nearly impossible to put down—in fact, nearly 17 million Americans try to quit each year, but unfortunately, merely 8 percent of smokers manage to succeed. Thus, 92% lose their freedom of choice, and what good is that? A ban, although having 100% declined the freedom of choice, has only positive health benefits and no economic cost. Among a survey of over 8,000 smokers in four countries, there was a 90% consensus: given the chance to restart, they would not smoke again. This is a clear show of violation of autonomy that proponents advocate for.

The same senior, without haven taken any cigarettes, stands strong, taking a clean deep breath of fresh air. Bright light shines through the window, and he smiles with clean teeth as he thinks of the past, the decision he had made to never let the smog cloud his body and mind and dominate his life. Laughing and talking with his friends by his side, he lives the rest of his life with decent savings. The world would be a better place without cigarettes. The government should take action immediately and stop that puff of exhaust from coming out of all smokers' mouths. Houses would be much safer, the economy of families—and the world— would be stabilized, and most importantly, we would save the environment. Let us hope that other dangerous drugs, as partners-in-crime, will also be abandoned so that everyone will live a fulfilled life.

Sources: (in no particular order) 

Round 2
Danielle’s argument went up in flames
Introduction and Overview

I'd like to thank my opponent for this debate and apologize for missing the first round. 

Our government protects the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. The right to be left alone, or to be free of government scrutiny into one’s private beliefs and behavior is often referred to as the "right to privacy." This concept largely comes from  the Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut, where Justice William O. Douglas famously said that a general right to privacy is found in the penumbras, or zones, created by the specific guarantees of several amendments in the Bill of Rights, including the First, Third, Fourth, and Ninth Amendments respectively [1].  In this debate Pro must demonstrate the government has the right to enact this kind of legislation in the first place, and then must prove why doing so would be a good idea when compared to the blowback and potential alternatives. I suspect the latter will be the most fruitful part of the discussion and I look forward to a great dialog. 

The Harms of Smoking 

A good part of Pro's argument stems from the reality that cigarette smoking poses bodily harm. I will not deny that, though it's worth noting that less than 10% of lifelong smokers will get lung cancer. Even fewer than that will contract the long list of other throat or mouth cancers [2]. So while smoking absolutely does contribute to most cancer diagnoses, the majority of smokers do not get cancer, and comorbidities have a significant effect on those that do get cancer [3]. 

Comorbidities like obesity are huge contributing factors to one's health, especially for smokers [4]. Despite the growing mountain of evidence that obesity leads to a significantly shorter lifespan per increased health risks including cancer, we do not criminalize people for getting fat nor for promoting unhealthy eating. Instead the government encourages healthy initiatives such as school lunch + exercise programs; laws that make restaurants put the caloric value of food on the menu;  ordinances that prevent cooking with trans fats; or partnering with farmers to provide more options to food stamp recipients. What they do not do is criminalize unhealthy personal choices and create an entire new class of criminals for the justice system and society to deal with. 

The Blowback of Criminalization

One reason the government does not attempt to pass overreaching laws that ban sugar or criminalize obesity is because of our right to bodily autonomy, and our constitutional right to privacy. Another is because history repeatedly shows the immense harm and societal blowback of Prohibition. 

Consider that alcohol is very problematic. The Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs evaluated the effects of drugs on the body and their impacts on society, including the effects on families and on costs in areas such as health care and corrections. Alcohol was deemed the most harmful drug, even more than doubly harmful than crack and heroin [5]. It was certainly deemed more harmful than nicotine. The undeniable harms of alcohol is what led the country to criminalize alcohol for 13 years. Here were the effects: 

- Immediate decline in alcohol use (falling 30% of pre Prohibition levels) but over the next several years, increasing to about 60 to 70% of pre Prohibition levels,  meaning people drank more post the prohibition of alcohol than before it 

- The rise of organized crime as a profitable and violent black market flourished

- An expansion in federal powers which led to a more penal criminal justice system we are trying to change today 

- Increased discrimination against non whites

- The creation of "moonshine" a.k.a. homemade alcohol which was even more toxic 

- A negative impact on the economy: Prohibition caused the loss of at least $226 million per annum in tax revenues on liquors alone. It also caused the shutdown of over 200 distilleries, a thousand breweries, and over 170,000 liquor stores [6]. Furthermore, the amount of money used to enforce Prohibition eventually doubled the original amount, which leads me to my next point and the crux of my position in this debate: the prohibition of nicotine would be an even more expensive and problematic undertaking than the status quo.

The government realized that banning alcohol (which was demonstrably more harmful than nicotine) was a huge mistake and moved to reverse that decision. Prohibition is not looked back on fondly, and for the last several decades the U.S. has waged an even more catastrophically futile movement known as the War on Drugs. This well intentioned undertaking has been a cataclysmic failure for many reasons, most notably the blowback. Right now the U.S.  is legalizing marijuana across the country because we recognize that on-balance legalization is preferable to criminalization, yet Pro wants us to regress and go back to punishing people for victimless crimes.

Can you imagine if people were now being stopped and frisked for having a pack of cigarettes? Apparently Pro does not care about the constitutional infringements and other rights violations that people would endure, certain populations in particular. It would increase interaction with police and arguably worsen tensions with law enforcement. It would harm communities of color that have more policing, creating a disproportionate impact that unfairly targets and punishes poor people more harshly; we'd see even more black fathers in trouble. It would increase the size and scope of government, costing taxpayers more money to police and prosecute people. It would contribute to the cycle of crime whereby convicted criminals have a harder time finding work (or have to go to court multiple times for a minor infraction) and therefore commit more crime. Etc. There is no way that the punishment (even a fine) would fit the "crime" of an unhealthy personal behavior like cigarette smoking. It would only hurt the individual even more, and on the macro level society even further. 

Re: The Environment and Second Hand Smoke 

I have referred to smoking as a victimless crime, though I understand the problems with second-hand smoke and pollution. However we must consider everything on-balance.  Cars, dust, industrial processes, gas stations and agriculture all contribute to global pollution, but we don't ban any of those things or consider automobile drivers criminals for the secondhand fumes they give off. Just like with toxic emissions and other concerns, we implement regulations and other protocols to lessen the negative impact. 

Regulating Cigarettes Is a Better Solution 

Because criminalizing things is so legally and culturally problematic, the government has found that actively discouraging certain things is a more fruitful endeavor than banning. There are many things the government can do to scale back smoking without infringing on anybody's rights. For example, (1) the state can enact policies that do not impose mandates on everyone, but only restrict products in publicly-funded spaces such as school campuses or hospitals. This will lead to less places people can smoke legally thereby deterring use. (2) They may limit the use of certain harmful chemicals; the government has already made it so that every harmful chemical in cigs must be reported. (3) The government funded huge anti smoking campaigns that have had positive results. Not only are there so many campaigns geared toward students, but millions of people were inspired to quit smoking from the CDC's anti smoking ad campaign [7]. 

(4) Policies may also restrict sales of cigarettes to particularly vulnerable populations such as children. We already see this done with cigarettes, alcohol and now even food and energy drinks. (5) Government restricts the way businesses like tobacco companies advertise to children. (6) Heavily taxing the cigarette industry has curbed use significantly [8]. Point (7) is mandating the Surgeon General's warnings about the dangers of smoking on every cigarette package has brought attention to the harms of smoking just like other initiatives.  And I could go on and on with other examples. For instance you could ban smoking cigarettes around children or more heavily penalize fires started by cigarettes for negligence. 

In short, policies that inform the public are often met with less resistance than the more restrictive ones. They are more legally and arguably more ethically sound as they promote and allow for better decision making. Indeed cigarette smoking has just hit an all-time low despite the lack of criminalization. There has been a decline of approximately two-thirds in the more than 50 years since the first Surgeon General’s report warned of the health consequences of smoking [9]. This tells us that we can effectively promote healthier lifestyle choices without violating anyone's rights. 


Smoking is not an immediate threat, and not necessarily a fatal one. We do not criminalize all things that are harmful such as tanning salons despite the risk of skin cancer or bakeries and sugar despite the obesity epidemic. We don't criminalize unprotected sex; we advise against it. It is preferable to society on balance to continue heavily regulating the sale of cigarettes, which has a demonstrable positive effect that continues to be more successful with each passing year. In this way we can lessen the harms of smoking without introducing a plethora of new harms and blowback from criminalizing cigarettes. 

Round 3
Harm of smoking

While we do not make it *illegal* to have overweight people, Japan has enforced penalty for having people beyond a certain threshold of weight. This encourages people to be fit, and though not very effective in the already well-kept Japanese population, a similar idea could be enforced in the US. It's just the question of legality then, if you fine companies for having overly fat people, then even though it's not a law, the "criminalization" is very similar to punishing with a small fine for people who decide to smoke. And I don't really want to get to legal specifics with Danielle here, but it's a very small difference that's hard to argue against. Obviously, putting in prison would be counter productive, but a fine, one way or another, fits my premise and burden of proof.

Notice that con only focuses on cancer and the percent out of all smokers. But the comparison to nonsmokers is apparent:

"Estimates show smoking increases the risk:
  • For coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
  • For stroke by 2 to 4 times
  • Of men developing lung cancer by 25 times
  • Of women developing lung cancer by 25.7 times"
So even 10% is really bad. I mean, if we normally had a 10% chance of lung cancer, that would be one of the most deadly disease in history (700 million would have obtained it!)

Economic Harm

So firstly, obviously entirely prohibiting alcohol is ridiculous, as it is an important disinfectant in medicine use. Similarly, Tobacco can still be used in trade, reducing the power of con's argument, especially use of jet fuel, along with pesticides, cooking. So notice how I did not say ban tobacco use. Because Tobacco is quite flexible, I do not think that the smoking industry alone contributes enough to the economy to outweigh the 18$ billion lost in job production, 41$ million for clean up in litter, and the fire related incidents with 4$ billion damage to property and health. And con did not negate the fact that people actually want to quit smoking, unlike the inability to quit alcohol (they very much enjoy drinking it, so prohibition fails). 


I counter, with the fact that we HAVE added criminal related provisions to prevent circumventing our purpose. says: "Beginning in the 1970s, Congress enacted a set of laws to protect the nation’s air, water, and lands from uncontrolled pollution. These laws responded to the consequences of unregulated industrial development that had fouled those resources to the point where rivers were not fishable, air was unhealthy to breathe, and land contamination put Love Canal at the forefront of national consciousness. Over time, environmental regulation has been very successful at reducing the amount of pollution  Americans face every day (see sidebar).

Because the substantial gains from these environmental statutes were accompanied by significant compliance costs, criminal provisions were included or added to deter illegal shortcuts.  Managers and executives of businesses that produce pollutants are sometimes tempted to break the law to avoid the costs of treatment equipment and disposal fees.  Most ECS prosecutions target those who have knowingly chosen to break the law because they feel environmental responsibility is too much work or too expensive.  An early and continuing goal of criminal enforcement is to ensure that businesses that intentionally disregard environmental statutes do not gain a competitive advantage over those that bear their share of the cost of clean air, water, and land.  In addition, criminal prosecution acknowledges that environmental stewardship has become a mainstream value, such that most Americans recognize that polluting and the illegal taking of wildlife are repugnant."

As you can see, environmental basis for criminalization can be founded.

Regulation vs Ban

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem strong enough. From con's own source, out of 2 million who claimed to be inspired, only 100,000+ succeeded (5%). That confirms my "95% cannot be done/quit/swayed" statistic, without a stronger motivator. Looking at the contrast of completely smoke free policies, it's evident that the reduction is far more powerful.  Europe went from 97% to 3% in Ireland, 84% to 3% in France. In New York nearly 100% of bars and restaurants were smoke free. California managed to gain 20% compliance after four years, four times more effective than mere regulation. Even the worst, Germany, still reduced its smoking population by half. 

Dropped arguments
- Con drops that the 50,000+ children dying from second smoke and does not give a foundation for cars and industries to have a similarly powerful effect
- Con drops environmental impacts, if nobody smoked then we can save a vast majority of trees cut down per year for tobacco
- Con drops that 90% fail to quit (helping me with her source), and 90% people want to quit, thus their motivations are vastly changed enough that the autonomy is extraordinary difficult to control
- Con drops accidents from smoking littering
- Con does not outweigh the 18$ billion lost in California alone, not to mention all 50 states.
Re: Harms of Smoking

I've conceded that smoking is harmful in the last round. Pro has not denied the fact that less than 10% of lifelong smokers get cancer. Extend my argument that smoking is not an immediate threat and not necessarily a fatal one, especially without comorbidities. While I realize the danger of smoking and secondhand smoking, we do not criminalize all things that are harmful  - we regulate them. 

Re: Economic Harms

I never mentioned banning tobacco, so Pro spent time arguing against a point I did not make. 

Pro states the difference between alcohol and cigarettes is that people actually want to quit smoking whereas they enjoy drinking. That is not entirely true. Alcohol is extremely addictive [1]. There are many reasons alcohol is considered the most dangerous and deadliest drug in the world [2, 3]. Alcoholism destroys families, 1 in 8 Americans is an alcoholic, and 90% of alcoholics relapse [4]. Moreover, alcohol abuse causes economic harm. It costs the U.S. a minimum of $250 BILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY which is considered a drastic underestimation, because there is no way to determine all of the economic loss [5]. 

Extend my argument that despite being definitively more harmful and more costly than cigarettes, we do not ban alcohol - we regulate it. 

Re: Environmental Concerns

Pro states "Congress enacted a set of laws to protect the nation’s air, water, and lands from uncontrolled pollution." I appreciate him repeating my point and making it again for me, because that is exactly the argument I made in the last round.  I never denied that there is an environmental basis for criminalization. What I said is that we can implement regulations to protect the environment from cigarettes just like we do from innumerable other toxins and fumes. Indeed Congress does NOT ban harmful pollutants - they regulate them.

Re: Regulation

Pro says regulation is not enough because "only 100,000 people have succeeded" at quitting smoking per my source. That is false. My source explicitly says "CDC’s Tips campaign has helped at least 400,000 smokers quit smoking for good since 2012. Tips is also extremely cost-effective and a best buy, saving both lives and money.  With a year-round campaign we could save even more lives and money" [6]. 

Next my opponent provides sources showing that in places like California, New York, France and Ireland, people complied with smoking bans in certain spaces. I would again like to thank my opponent for repeating this point for me, because that is exactly the same argument I made in the last round. I noted that government could ban cigarettes in certain spaces which would deter use. Pro verified this point by highlighting Smoke-Free zones are a way to reduce smoking. Extend this argument in favor of Con. 

Re: Dropped Arguments

A)  Pro says I dropped his point about the environment which is absurd. It is poor conduct for Pro to force me to waste character space by copy and pasting my response to him from the last round which was literally under the heading titled Re: The Environment and Secondhand Smoke: 

"I understand the problems with second-hand smoke and pollution. However we must consider everything on-balance.  Cars, dust, industrial processes, gas stations and agriculture all contribute to global pollution, but we don't ban any of those things or consider automobile drivers criminals for the secondhand fumes they give off. Just like with toxic emissions and other concerns, we implement regulations and other protocols to lessen the negative impact."

Regarding children dying from smoke, I conceded right off the bat that smoking is harmful.  I pointed out that we restrict the sale of cigarettes to children; that we do not advertise cigarettes to children; and regarding second-hand smoke proposed that we can ban smoking around children. Furthermore I responded to his point about costly accidents from cigarettes by suggesting increased penalties for negligence (i.e. a cigarette starting a fire). It is flat out wrong to say I dropped these arguments.

B) Here are the arguments of mine that Pro has explicitly ignored: 

1. Banning cigarettes would not withstand judicial review per our constitutional rights - he dropped this argument entirely 

2. The Prohibition of alcohol failed and was ultimately repealed even though alcohol is more dangerous and costly than cigarettes 

3. Criminalizing cigarettes would create a lot of harm for certain communities that are over policed, including but not limited to having criminal records, making poor people pay fines when they are already struggling, or forcing them to miss work to attend court   

4. Tensions with law enforcement would escalate as people are hassled for smoking or having cigarettes - searches and seizures would increase along with all kinds of other lawsuits

5. Policing cigarettes would necessarily expand the criminal justice system at all levels, costing taxpayers money at a time we are trying to limit and reduce the scope of our corrections operations

7. We are moving toward LEGALIZATION of recreational marijuana in this country with more and more states realizing how utterly reprehensible the prohibition of it is, yet Pro does not explain why we should take a step backwards and now criminalize even more folks 

8. Pro did not respond to any one of my points about how regulation has been measured to significantly deter use, nor explain why my other proposals would not "go far enough" to address his concerns


Pro says regulations are not enough despite there being a record low number of smokers without criminalization; there are 67% fewer smokers today than in the 1960s which is incredible [7]. There are never going to be zero smokers. People enjoy smoking or they enjoy it enough to get started. If cigarettes aren't manufactured at scale, people will roll their own tobacco at home just like they grow their own pot or make their own wine. Right now every cigarette smoker in America is fully aware of the dangers of smoking yet they choose to start or continue anyway. Pro must justify turning these people into criminals that deserve punishment by law which he has not. I've shown the law does not make all potentially harmful activity illegal; that's why coal mining, tanning salons and gun manufacturers are allowed to exist. Some things are more regulated than others. 

The goal of laws should be to preserve our individual rights and lessen harm to society. By implementing regulations, people can still engage in the behavior they are free to regarding their own body, and the government can implement restrictions to protect others. I'd like to make another argument in this round regarding our constitutional rights, which is that banning smoking could be an infringement of people's religious liberties as well. While Pro says he is okay with tobacco being used for jet fuel and pesticides, Round 1 makes it very clear he is against smoking tobacco. However smoking tobacco is integral to the religious ceremonies of several Native American and other indigenous tribes, therefore we have even more constitutional concerns than the ones I've brought up already.  

Round 4
Harms of Smoking

The question is, how "immediate" is "immediate"? Does there need to be an absolute immediate threat that obviously is life and death? Keckmedicine notes, with merely one puff of smoke,

  • The lining of your nose and esophagus becomes red and irritated from the chemicals and smoke. You may start to cough.
  • The good bacteria in your mouth die, leading to dry mouth and bad breath.
  • The heat and tar from your cigarette can discolor your teeth, gums and lips. Over time, wrinkles and age spots appear. Quitting protects your skin from premature aging.
  • Puckering to take a drag causes fine lines to form around your lips — a dead giveaway that you smoke, because these don’t normally appear on nonsmokers.
Eight to 48 hours
  • The nicotine and carbon monoxide finally begin to leave your system — but, only if you haven’t smoked since your first puff.
  • The excess mucus created to coat and protect your lungs will begin to drain.
  • Nicotine not only is addictive, but it also impedes your sense of smell and taste. It takes two days for your body to flush the nicotine out and for your senses to return to normal.
  • Hearing loss is a little-known side effect of smoking. When you smoke, the oxygen in your inner ear is depleted.
  • Smoking makes it harder for your blood to circulate, so exercising and other physical activity can leave you winded."
There are definitive results shown very quickly even with just a quick smoke. And 2/3's of smokers die from their long term diseases. Con's arg is basically similar to, if you inject you with a poison that has 2/3 chance to kill you in the long run, without knowing the precise chances or exact rate of diseases (no full information), this is still fine. "Not necessarily fatal" is incredibly confusing; if the person wanted to suicide, a suicide is near 100% success rate (shotgun > 99%), and thus 1/3 is a horrible "up to chance". If they wanted to live, 2/3 chance of early death is also incredibly confusing and destroys con's own argument. 

Economic Harms Vs Alcohol

Though I have no precise statistics for people who like to drink alcohol, there are actually certain advantages which may prove that it definitely is below 90% who don't want to drink. Sites have noted positive effects in smaller amount -- "men and women who have four to six alcoholic drinks (i.e. 5-ounce glasses of wine or 1.5-ounce cocktails) per week were, respectively, 20% and 44% less likely to develop a potentially fatal ballooning of the aorta." Another site supports this, noting lower heart disease, and reduced risk of diabetes. At last, we see some good side to alcohol. So the trouble can be resolved with regulation, because only "too much alcohol" is a problem. Remember that there are less than 15% of alcoholics, so 90% of them failing to rehab is a much smaller number than 90% of smokers who fail to quit. (Also, official statistics show closer to 20% succeeding on their own)

Compare to Tobacco pros for people's body (regardless of how much is used): Feels good.

That's it? Huh. No wonder 90% of people want to quit.


I'm still not 100% convinced. The factories are essential for our industrialized world today, cars for mobility, an essential transportation method. You can't compare them with smoking. Without any of Con's pollution sources, we basically cannot have a developed modern society that can produce thousands of resources and easily get from place to place. But Without smoking, the only thing you don't have is... the smoking industry. Which Con has wisely not brought up how much money it actually benefits, because it can't outweigh the costs. 


And why can't the government use this as a nice slippery slope to ban all smoking? We've banned public smoking. We've banned indoors. That's basically the vast majority of locations. Banning all the locations would surely help even more to quit smoking. Secondly, it says it only costs 300$ per person, but it doesn't say how much it actually saves. It's cost effective, but it doesn't gain as much money in the end result. On the other hand, a 2004 article notes "A study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week examines costs associated with smoking in subsidized housing, finding that adopting smoke-free policies in all such units nationwide would save nearly $500 million annually." Compared to trying to spend money on each person, the smoke-free federal policy wouldn't cost money (as far as I know, legislation of laws doesn't use up the budget), so I don't see the problem here.


Con assumes that people know everything, exactly what they're getting into, but at the same time 90% of people want to quit with my statistics, inferring there's something missing. I personally think the lack of information is a big takeaway that makes it difficult to fully ascertain the situation. In a research, "This study showed that smokers had low awareness about some risk effects of smoking such as lung cancer in nonsmokers (30.1%), impotence in male smokers (52.6%), premature ageing (64%), and stroke (66.3%). In addition, the high score of knowledge and perception was significantly associated with quitting intention." So when people know everything, it's much more likely that they wouldn't start in the first place (presumably, the 90% who have personally experienced what smoking actually feels like, so they now know much more about smoking cigarettes). Cars/factories can't be compared because they're essential. Alcohol can't be compared because it actually is decent for physical health in moderate amounts, while cigarette has no benefits other than a mental pleasure. The 67% of death with Con still trying to say, fatality is not guaranteed. Makes me feel Con is far underestimating just how dangerous cigarettes are. Just how high would it be for con to stop? 80%? 90%? Only 100%, guaranteed fatality? By then, it may be far too late, and kill too many lives. If we can save even one human life, for lesser cost and greater gain, let's ban cigarettes.

Vote for pro.

I would like to thank seldiora for my first debate on DART :) 

Re: The Harms of Smoking

Throughout this debate I have repeatedly acknowledged the harms from smoking, however posed it is not an immediate threat and not necessarily a fatal one. Remember only 10% of lifelong smokers get cancer. I've argued that comorbidities such as obesity are the biggest dangers to smokers which my opponent has never denied [1]. 

Pro contends the harms from cigarettes are immediate because you may start to cough, discolor your teeth, or experience things like excess mucus right away. None of these immediate effects are very dangerous, but just as the onset of these things is immediate, so are the effects when you stop smoking. Your heart and blood pressure decrease 20 minutes after your last cigarette. Twelve hours later, the carbon monoxide levels in your blood return to normal. After just two weeks, your circulation improves and lung function increases [2]. And a new study published  revealed that the lungs can reverse cell damage, with ex-smokers having nearly normal profiles even if they smoked for 30 years or more [3].

That is not to say smoking is harmless because it is not. I am not suggesting that quitting smoking is easy or that we can rely on that to reverse the damage; after all I never denied Pro's argument that cigarettes were addictive. What I said is that we do not criminalize all things that are harmful  or addictive - we regulate them.  We make them harder to advertise or obtain. We limit where people can do certain things. We ban certain things for people under a particular age, etc. There are all kinds of things we can do to deter cigarette smoking or reduce the harms even further. I provided examples such as banning certain chemicals or increasing penalties for smoking around children and others to reduce the harms of second-hand smoke. My opponent ignored these suggestions or simply declared them "not enough" with little to no explanation. 

I also gave examples of other harmful things that are legal, including but not limited to alcohol, fast food and sun tanning. In 2014, researchers published a study that found indoor tanning alone led to more cases of skin cancer than smoking did with lung cancer [4].  In 2016, researchers  concluded the death rate from poor diet exceeded those of alcohol, drugs, unprotected sex, and tobacco combined [5]. Extend my argument the government implements regulations to mitigate the harms of things in society, even things that are more harmful than cigarettes.

Re: Economic Harm vs. Alcohol

Pro did not respond to any of the arguments I made about this topic.

Instead my opponent claims there are advantages to drinking alcohol, and therefore because it can have a positive effect on the body,  it is worthy of regulation whereas cigarettes deserve an outright ban. Note this has nothing to do with economic impact. 

I'll respond by saying technically cigarettes have some proven medical benefits too: smokers are less likely to need knee replacement surgery, less likely to develop Parkinson's disease, and can process some medicines better. Smokers are also less likely to get certain kinds of heart attacks [6].  Scientists have found evidence that smoking might help prevent the onset of various dementias [7]. And most significantly, smokers are less likely to be obese [8]. Considering the obesity epidemic kills more people than smoking, that is very significant. 

But I'd like to get back to the economic argument. Pro did not address my point that alcohol  costs the U.S. a minimum of $250 BILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY which is considered a drastic underestimation, and far more than the figures Pro gave for what cigarettes cost - yet again we do not ban alcohol despite the cost.   

Re: Environment

In the last round, Pro conceded the government regulates economic harms including toxic fumes. Ergo we can regulate cigarette emissions and the effect they have on the environment as well. Pro argues that certain harms to the environment are justifiable because they allow our society to thrive. But clearly that's not true of things that pollute just for fun - airplane travel for leisure; motorized vehicles like jet skiis, etc. Consider that golf is not friendly to the environment as it wastes a lot of land and water. Skiing requires a lot of manufactured energy. The use of certain air fresheners and the plastic packaging they come in are all unnecessary luxuries and hobbies that hurt the environment. The fact is smoking cigarettes is not anywhere near as harmful as some other pollutants we allow, and we do allow things that cause harm so long as we regulate it. 

Re: Regulation 

Pro says we should just regulate cigarettes into criminality. I disagree for all the aforementioned reasons I have explained throughout this debate. 

Then Pro says "Secondly, it says it only costs 300$ per person, but it doesn't say how much it actually saves. It's cost effective, but it doesn't gain as much money in the end result." To be honest I have no idea what he is referring to even though I've re-read his paragraph three times. I don't want to drop any arguments, but I can't understand what he is trying to say here. The argument I made is that we can regulate the use of smoking to deter it which Pro has agreed works. I also corrected my opponent's statistic seeing as how he misrepresented what my source said. Hundreds of thousands of people have quit smoking per the CDC Anti-Smoking campaign. I've proven that smoking campaigns and other regulations have deterred cigarette use significantly. 

Fully Dropped Arguments: 

1. Banning cigarettes would not withstand judicial review for numerous rights violations
2. The Prohibition of alcohol (which is more dangerous) failed and was repealed
3. Criminalizing cigarettes would create a lot of harm and legal blowback
4. It would make the criminal justice system more expensive and weak
5. That's why we are moving toward legalization of things like marijuana 
6. We regulate things that are more harmful than cigarettes
7. Regulation has deterred use significantly and we can expand it even further 


I've argued that cigarette smokers are aware of the dangers of smoking, yet they choose to start or continue anyway. Pro has not justified turning these people into criminals that deserve punishment by law. Instead he said that people are ignorant to the risks of smoking and proved this point with an irrelevant source. He cited research about Iraqi smokers which is wholly irrelevant to this conversation, as the laws and regulations we have in the U.S. do not apply to Iraq and therefore their numbers do not reflect ours at all. This was arguably an abusive use of citation by my opponent.

I've advocated for additional regulations that would deter smoking even further. By implementing regulations, people can still engage in the behavior they are free to regarding their own body, and the government can implement restrictions to protect the individual and society at large. The blowback of criminalization, which I explained at length in my first posted round, cannot be understated. Despite Pro completely glossing over the legality of this proposal and its unintended consequences, it would be an extremely problematic endeavor. Indeed calls to ban cigarettes would be met with many legal challenges that would not stand. Most people understand that cigarettes are harmful and agree we should all be informed to the fullest extent possible. But we also do not want to forfeit our constitutional rights and the general spirit of liberty and privacy. The government can and should implement regulations that on balance weigh the importance of protecting society, with the significance of personal freedom. I've outlined many ways this is possible and preferable to the alternative. 

Thank you.