Does smoking cigarettes really cause heart attacks? Should it matter?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Randwolf, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

    Decline in Incidence of Heart Attacks Appears Associated With Smoke-Free Workplace Laws
    So how to balance personal freedom against the "greater good" of society? Thirty three percent less heart attacks seems a substantial decrease indeed. But should we extend the current smoking bans by "eliminating loopholes [and] encouraging expansion of smoke-free policies to include multiunit housing, motor vehicles, casinos and outdoor locations"? Where does it end?

    The logical action would simply be to outlaw smoking tobacco altogether but the special interest groups (i.e. Big Tobacco) have too much power presently for this to be a reasonable expectation. So compromises are made...

    Assuming the premise that my freedom to swing ends at the tip of your nose second hand smoke in a restaurant or bar could be seen as invasive. However, expanding no smoking zones to include personal dwellings, cars and even outdoors might be overstepping a bit in my opinion.

    Perhaps I'm biased because I smoke and have for thirty years but I still cling to the antiquated notions of privacy and personal liberty as long as I'm not harming anyone else. If you come to my house and don't like the smoke, leave. If it bothers you whilst riding in my car, get out.

    I realize that there are precedents (e.g. California) and similar laws in place regarding recreational drug use but in general I'm opposed to the "nanny state" enforcing what I can and can't do in the privacy of my home.

    For that matter, how do you feel about laws currently in place in so many areas banning smoking from restaurants, etc.? Does the government even deserve the right to enforce these policies? Remember, they are privately owned businesses not governmental or public facilities.

    On the other hand, perhaps you believe the "greater good" outweighs the rights of the individual in these cases. After all, the members of society at large have to bear the costs of providing the infrastructure to support these "private" businesses. So why should they not have a say in the conduct occurring within said establishments? Where is that balance?

    So how about it? To what degree should the government have the right to restrict my activities for my own good even if I'm harming no one else?

    JAMA and Archives Journals (2012, October 29). Decline in incidence of heart attacks appears associated with smoke-free workplace laws. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 29, 2012.
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  3. Balerion Banned Banned

    I used to think so too, until I quit smoking three years ago and know really just how invasive is really is. The lightbulb moment came not a week after I quit, when, on the drive home from work, I realized I could smell people's cigarette smoke from other vehicles. This may sound like the most obvious thing ever, but I had literally never noticed it until I quit. Most likely because my sense of smell was no longer dulled by my pack-a-day habit. Now, if I have my windows open, I can smell the smoke from passers by, or neighbors who step out for a puff. I don't know how much harm is being caused to me, and I'm not all that concerned--14 years of smoking is damage enough, I'd guess--but I can understand why people want to limit it. Your personal liberty ends when you start threatening my health.
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  5. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    your personal liberty is less important than the rights of children and even animals. Neither of them have the ability to chose not to inhale your smoke so yes a ban in an encosed space like a car or even a house when there are children and pets are forced to inhale that same air is definitly warented
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  7. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

    I might buy that.

    What about if I live alone or when driving by myself? What then Asguard? Do you go with Balerion's observations to support a ban under those conditions? And if I'm all alone in the middle of a forest preserve? Unfair to the wildlife perhaps? Why don't you just say yes, the state is justified in enforcing laws solely for "your own good"? No limits to curtailing personal freedoms as long as the regulations purport to ensure the safety of... well, other humans, animals or your own self, right?
  8. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    I think all of it is blown way out of proportion. I lived with a smoker as a child and no one in my household ever became sick because of second hand smoke. I'm sure there are those who are sensitive to it, but I think they are a minority. Yes, we should be able to smoke whenever and wherever we want--keep the government out of our lives. It has become the cause of radicalism that desires to dictate well being for all. If you think they will stop with smoking, just wait and see. They are never satisfied. I believe there was a thread earlier that pointed out NYC's attempt to limit soda pop consumption.
  9. Balerion Banned Banned

    It's not "for your own good," but "for the good of others." Risking my health by using tobacco should be a choice. I lose the ability to make that choice when you're allowed to smoke in my presence. Now, that doesn't mean you shouldn't be allowed to smoke anywhere, but I think there should be more limits than there are.

    What about you? What do you think of the points I raised?
  10. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    Slippery slope. What was the argument for the prohibition of alcohol? Medical. Economic, political, and social? We're seeing much the same with tobacco.
  11. Neverfly Banned Banned

    In addition, when you drive by a person on the sidewalk, you're spewing fumes at them. Whenever you fart in public, etc.

    The reason that slope is slippery is because there's literally nothing we can do that some other person cannot claim effects them somehow.

    While one may appreciate a considerate smoker, one also has the option of moving his butt a few feet away instead of trying to control the other person.
  12. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    Currently the SA legislation (and probably the othe states) have bans in cars with pets and children under 16, actually with children it's not choice, there rights are by international treaties and supersedes anything else

    As for complete ban Tasmania is concidering legislation which would ban anyone born after the year 2000 from buying smokes, in otherwords a gradual ban which doesn't penalise those who already smoke
  13. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

    That's what I'm struggling with. At what point does your right not to be adversely affected by my actions get trumped by my personal freedom? I really don't have a problem with the whole smoking in restaurants issue, I actually enjoy not having a cloud of smoke hovering about while I eat. And I remember when there was a cloud hovering.

    What I do have a problem with is the state trying to protect everyone from each other to the point that all pretense of privacy and liberty is eroded beyond recognition. The smoking bans are just an entry point to the underlying issues raised by this nanny mentality. I hate to mention the "slippery slope" fallacy but sometimes it can be a valid threat. I believe this issue is symptomatic of just such a case. For instance, I also don't understand mandatory seatbelt laws, unless you want to get into the social costs of my being more severely injured or even killed in an accident that I might have waked away from.

    These arguments only go so far before they come into direct opposition with what I perceive as my inalienable rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There inevitably will come a point where we must decide exactly how much freedom we are collectively willing to surrender in exchange for security. They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. - Benjamin Franklin

    I'm sure we all have personal opinions on where this line should be drawn and I am trying to elicit a consensus amongst the community on just where that point is. Failing in that endeavor I hope to at least gather some opinions and extract some enlightenment from the diversity.

    Personally, I currently believe that there must be a balance such that one says enough is enough. Take smoking outside as an example. If I am standing under a tree thirty feet from you smoking a cigarette I do not believe it is reasonable for you to expect me to put it out just in case you decide to approach. You are free not to do so. This contrasts considerably from smoking in a restaurant or on an airplane where the other person has no choice whether in being exposed to second hand smoke. Where do you believe the appropriate boundaries should be drawn to accommodate our mutually exclusive desires?
  14. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    State has an international duty to protect children, there is no "balance" you are REQUIRED to have a focus on the child not on the adult
  15. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    And you will find that most are willing to give up their neighbor's liberties quite readily, which is painfully clear where smoking is concerned.

    You should have offered a poll. My personal opinion is based on personal experience, much of it being from my youth. Everybody got along just fine until the wieners grabbed the podium. There was no problem before it was made into a problem.

    If it were only so simple. Some fanatics get bent out of shape by nothing more than a sniff of tobacco. Nagging has become politically correct. I once stood outside to smoke a cigarette and still somebody complained. I don't think they were prepared for my response.
  16. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

    So staying within the fairly narrow confines alluded to in the OP, exactly how far is my "focus" supposed to reach? Is smoking two feet from a child acceptable? No? What about ten? Fifty? At what precise distance does the focus blur? When do we switch to valuing my personal freedom to [insert potentially harmful activity] over protecting the interests of others, be they of majority age or not? Do we ever? If we do, then that is what I'm referring to as "balance". If no such point exists then you have answered my question as far as your own values are concerned. You are entitled to an opinion, just don't weasel about. So, in this context, how do we achieve balance?
  17. Neverfly Banned Banned

    You will find that the opposition will always make a strong case of how your "freedom" should be trumped for the "greater good." It's not that they don't have some merit in their arguments, it's that they do not value Freedom the way some of us do.
    And they justify it every step of the way.

    I don't always disagree with giving up some freedoms. But it really is slippery- give 'em an inch...
  18. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

    Unfortunately people are often all too willing to sacrifice their neighbors' liberties and it's not limited only to smoking.
    I don't believe anyone would argue that personal liberty and privacy are rapidly deteriorating in favor of security. This is a given in the post 9/11 world. My question is where will it end? Are these concepts becoming obsolete, much like feudalism did? Will our grandchildren have to ask "Dad, what does 'privacy' mean"? When they are seventeen years of age no less? Is this where it's headed? I'd like to think not but I have grave reservations.

    Perhaps. My experience tends to make me believe that polls can discourage elaboration.

    Agreed. We also somehow survived without mandatory helmet laws and padded playgrounds. This is not to say these developments are necessarily bad but if you leave the issue of children out of the equation I think "mandatory" and "freedom" are necessarily in opposition. I want to preserve the concept of freedom and privacy before it regresses to mere conception and finally disappears entirely.

    This is the crux of the issue. More alarming is it appears those fanatics are us, in the sense that we elect the officials that enact more and more nanny laws. I say let the PC crowd complain. I like my privacy and freedom and respect the memory of those who died to preserve them. The pendulum has already swung too far IMHO.
  19. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    47 million smokers in the US alone, I've often though that tobacco would be a good business opportunity. As long as it's legal, there will always be a demand.
  20. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    Good observation. Much has already changed, yes. The taxes alone can be punitive. It looks like New York, the biggest nanny state ever, has a $4.00 tax on smokes. Then there is the the federal tax.
  21. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

    I own firearms. Where I live, I am allowed to carry them - either openly or concealed - in most places. I am not allowed to carry them in such places as churches, bars, schools, sports events, hospitals and the like - all formally defined as public places. I am not allowed to fire those arms in the places I am allowed to carry them though, unless special circumstances dictate that action. I am allowed to fire them in specified places in a specified manner however. These limits are for the protection of other people (the public), myself, my family (my dog is part of my family) and friends.

    I think that a smoking ban in public places is logical for the protection of 'the public', inclusive of my family and friends. I smoked for 27 years, do not smoke now. I have been exposed to many things as bad for me - if not worse - than tobacco smoke, but that is not the question, is it? The question is public health and personal choice. If we are in a bar or restaurant (or any other public place) when you choose to spark one up, you have made a choice concerning my personal health for me that I may not agree with. To be fair, I may then make a choice regarding your personal health that you may not agree with as well.

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    I can endorse a smoking ban in pretty much all public places. If you are overcome by a nicotine craving in a bar or a church or a restaurant and do not want to go outside, grab your e-ciggie, your nicotine gum or your Pax vaporizer and use that (nicotine in the vapor, no smoke, no smoke byproducts, no health impact on other people nearby so those are legal). Better yet, just switch to those instead of smoking any more for your own - and everyone elses - health.

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    The ban on smoking in apartment buildings is logical as well, as you do not own the property (you are renting), someone else will live there after you have moved on, and tobacco smoke toxins impregnate the carpets, walls, floors and furnishings for later re-release into the ambient air. In a car in traffic you should do as you wish IF there are no children or pets with you in your vehicle. This because the diesel smoke from all of those stinky trucks and buses is a known carcinogen yet is still legal to spew in traffic and the exhaust from other vehicles ain't so good for you either. If you do choose to smoke in your car though, USE THE DAM ASHTRAY - DO NOT THROW YOUR STINKING BURNING BUTTS OUT THE WINDOW.

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    (pet peeve of mine

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    If you want to smoke in an outdoors designated place or in your own backyard or out in the woolies by yourself, just be careful not to start a forest fire and go to it. Prohibition has not worked, does not work and will not work, nor does interdiction.

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    It is not the governments place to make individual health choices for the individual, but it is the governments responsibility to protect individuals from negative health impact due to other individuals personal choices. I think that there is sufficient criteria here to make the pertinent circumstances obvious.
  22. Neverfly Banned Banned

    I always find this argument very interesting. When it's convenient- it's pulled out. But it's not pulled out when it's not so convenient, is it?
    So, the governments place is to protect the publics health, why do we have cars? At all? I mean, people run into innocent people with them. Why do we have airlines? Yet, then, it's ok to take that "risk" because there's something else involved, than just public health, isn't there?
    Smog? A few trivial and minimal actions here and there- and we still have Global Warming to contend with.

    It's a dollar sign. If the pay is good, the public can go to hell.
    But when you want to look like you care, go after something believable, if not effective for actual public safety.
    Our air is being seriously polluted. And it's being allowed.

    Ok, ok ok- airlines. They are trying

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    They gave us the TSA.

    Let's face it- that argument can be effectively used to ban any personal choice at the cost of liberty and freedom.

    Now, I don't mind a smoke free restaurant. The business owner would often have that as a policy, anyway- to encourage business form the majority or people; non-smokers.
    Many business would prefer to cater to both- with an isolated or outdoor setting for smokers. But due to government interference; the business cannot offer that.

    ETA: Don't get me started on carcinogens...

    By the argument given, all diesel engines, (Semis, cars, tractors, locomotives, generators, etc) should be banned from city limits. Yet, this is not the case and it will not happen anytime, soon... That's just one example. $$
    In the REMSAD study, Abt Associates, for the Clean Air Task Force, estimate that approximately 21,000 people in the U.S. die prematurely each year from breathing diesel soot, 3,000 of these from lung cancer. Another 27,000 heart attacks, 14,500 hospitalizations and 2.4 million lost work days are attributable to diesel particulate matter exposures.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2012
  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I just stopped reading right there. There are no people on earth more antagonistic to smokers than the people who used to be smokers. They had their fun and decided to quit, so now they think they're qualified to tell everybody else to quit.

    Less flippantly, former smokers are extremely sensitive to the smell of smoke. Mrs. Fraggle used to smoke. Today she will climb over twelve rows of seats in a theater to tell somebody to put out his cigarette--a cigarette I didn't even know was there! (Well thirty years ago anyway. Today you don't often encounter smoking in theaters anymore.)

    No. You just don't get it. Your senses have been attuned to the smell of tobacco because you spent your whole life teaching your central nervous system that tobacco is a pleasure. The rest of us don't have that problem. Please don't assume that because you're now a crusading nanny that the rest of us must be too. Personally I don't give a flying fuck about smoking, but I do care about freedom and I don't like to see it abridged.

    Well aren't you just the quintessential convert. You had your fun and now you want to make sure nobody else gets to have theirs. What a nice guy.

    "Special interest groups???" How about the tens of millions of people who like to smoke? Don't they count? The nanny-state advocates seem to think that smoking is just a bad habit like scratching your balls in public.

    Nicotine is a mood leveler, a possibly unique psychoactive drug that can both elevate a person a little bit out of depression, and pull a person a little bit down out of excessive excitement. And the person doesn't even have to be enough in touch with his own feelings to figure out which way he needs to go.

    Considering the abysmal track record and astronomical cost of psychotherapy, tobacco is an incredibly cheap and incredibly effective way to solve a problem that shrinks can't solve. Sure it has a long-term cost: decreased life expectancy and (in many cases) more dire end-of-life issues than most of us will have to endure. But most humans heavily discount the present value of future costs and benefits. They have to be browbeaten into putting money away for retirement. If they don't care whether they'll be able to afford food in forty years, guess how much they care about the illnesses they might suffer in forty years?

    Especially if that will be forty years of having to live with the sub-clinical level of manic-depression that they're self-medicating with tobacco. Some of them would rather die tomorrow than have to live another day feeling like this.

    Perhaps Balerion is a guy who started smoking only because of peer pressure in high school, and now that he's stopped he has no manic-depressive moods to deal with (once he went through withdrawal). But I have a really big surprise for you: all people are not the same! Many people started smoking because it was a psychological life-saver.

    So please don't assume that his life is like theirs and what worked for him will work for them.

    Tobacco and alcohol each cause more illness and death than all other recreational/self-medicating drugs combined. Caffeine has fewer first-order effects than tobacco and alcohol, but the second order effects are often dire and they are virtually ignored (insomnia, for starters), as we pander this drug to our children. So as far as I'm concerned, so long as tobacco, alcohol and caffeine are legal, the nanny state has no business outlawing cocaine, opiates, and the rest of the recreational pharmacopia. Much less marijuana, which is arguably the most benign of all popular drugs--it doesn't cause lung cancer, it doesn't motivate people to crash their cars, and it's inspired a lot of great art and music.

    I'm a bar-band musician. Attendance at bars has dropped off since the nanny state decided it's okay to send people out into the parking lot to drive home drunk, but not to let them smoke. As a result, they can't afford to hire live bands as often as they used to. So I have nothing but contempt for the idea of banning smoking in bars. People go to bars to take a psychoactive recreational drug: alcohol. What's wrong with letting them take all the psychoactive recreational drugs they want, as long as they're there?

    The effects of second-hand smoke are the same as the effects of first-hand smoke: they generally don't appear until you're much older. So if you get lung cancer when you're sixty, it's hard to say how much of that was due to growing up with parents who smoked, and how much to living in a city with motor vehicle exhaust in the air, and how much to sheer coincidence.

    Although I'm a libertarian I'm not of the knee-jerk variety. I think one important purpose of government is to make improvements in our lives that we can't make individually, or even by forming private institutions. The problem with cleaning up the air is "The Tragedy Of The Commons" writ large. It would not be feasible for every person who is afflicted with a respiratory disorder to allocate the responsibility among millions of fellow citizens who have pumped tobacco smoke and vehicle exhaust into the air he has been breathing for fifty years, and then bill them proportionally for damages.

    Normally we libertarians advocate an expansion of the use of tort law to sort out grievances. If your neighbor at the end of the block decides to raise hogs and your quality of life is reduced by the smell, then you should be able to sue him for damages, rather than having the county re-zone your neighborhood to disallow farming. If he's making so much money from selling bacon that he can afford to pay you off, you can use that money to move to a more upscale neighborhood and somebody else will buy your house who wants to raise goats.

    But you just can't do that with secondhand smoke. Both the cause and the effect are so diffused that it's impossible to perform the allocations--and even if you could it would cost so much that it would add another zero or two to the settlement amount, resulting in government bean-counters getting most of the money.

    The organization that spearheaded Prohibition was the Women's Christian Temperance Union or WCTU. They simply felt that drinking was immoral. They brought in medical arguments to win support, but at heart Prohibition was just one more victory for the fucking churches.

    My parents lived in Chicago in the 1920s and saw their city turned into a war zone by Prohibition. Shifting a popular commodity to the black market was a windfall for the Mafia, which overnight grew from a motley assortment of hoodlums into a business enterprise to rival the Fortune 500. America is not a nation of authority-lovers, so making alcohol illegal actually made it "cool" (in today's slang) and therefore more attractive and popular. My mother said the worst thing about Prohibition was that women started going to bars.

    America has no memory--if it did we'd all be weeping over our ancestors' treatment of the Indians and the Afro-American slaves. So we've forgotten the lessons of Prohibition, and the shit-for-brains government is repeating the same error with the War On Drugs. The only thing they changed was to carefully shift the war zone from Chicago to Mexico. If thirty thousand Americans had been gunned down because of a failed government policy, we'd burn down the Capitol Building and tar-and-feather the President. But if it's only 30,000 Mexicans, nobody gives a damn.

    Ah yes, the People's Republic of Down Under is in high gear.

    What pisses me off is all these fashionable new "allergies." When I was younger, one of the nicest things about going to work was smelling all the wonderful perfume the ladies wore. I used to find an excuse to pop into all the offices just to find out what scent they were wearing today. Nowadays a lot of offices don't allow perfume. And if you go into a top-end department store to buy a bottle for your lady, all they have is cheap crap. I asked a lady behind the counter whatever happened to Joy and Opium and all the wonderful perfumes my wife used to wear and she practically broke into tears. She was ashamed of the junk she has to sell today.

    How about peanuts? If we hadn't been allowed to bring peanut butter sandwiches to school for lunch, we would have all starved.

    Dog dander? Hey, if you're "allergic" to dogs you're the last person I want in my life, much less living in the house next door.

    Where did these goddamn new allergies come from? They can't be genetic. In the Middle Ages anybody who was allergic to wheat, for example, would have starved to death before reaching puberty. I find a lot of credibility in the explanation that they're due to overvaccination. Most allergies are simply the body's immune system attacking itself, perhaps because it was never calibrated properly. Not exposing it to chicken pox, etc., during childhood, leaves it uncalibrated.

    I remember the campaign for mandatory motorcycle helmets. (I always wore mine so it didn't affect me.) The rationale was that if you got in a wreck and busted your head and didn't have medical insurance, the citizenry would have to pay your medical bills. To me that sounded like a perfectly logical reason not to allow that person into the hospital until his finances were examined and it was determined that he could pay his own bills. Sure that would have been difficult in the 1970s and he would have died first, but today it's a couple of clicks on a SmartPhone.

    If you choose to ride without a helmet, and you choose to not have a lucrative career that gives you a big bank balance, then you have chosen to die if you have a wreck. Duh?

    The world changes and since we generally appreciate the changes we have to accept the cost. Most people would not want to go back to the Paleolithic Era when there were virtually no laws, because there was no surplus food to store and lot of people died during years with low rainfall. So we put up with the laws and other inconveniences of an agricultural society, in exchange for more food and a greater lifespan.

    But you can bet there were people at the time who chafed at the idea of living in a permanent village, watering plants and grazing animals, when they'd rather be out sleeping under the stars and chasing aurochs for food.

    This is an international forum so I don't think there will be a consensus. We've already had an Aussie log in who believes that the government can do no wrong so we should just shut up and obey it.

    But the USA has fifteen times as large a population, and government grows exponentially larger as the population grows. The Aussies might actually feel that the members of their government, who are much closer to them, are reasonably wise and accountable. But ours are not. Once you rise into the top echelons of American government, you have been selected for only two traits: 1) You love power, and 2) You know how to win elections. Knowing how to govern is not on that list. These people are not close to us.

    Oh don't get me started on that bullshit. I am fed up to death with the conversion of our society into a pedocracy. The only people who have any rights these days are children. And they are too stupid to handle them. People should have to pass a test before they're allowed to have children. Driving a car is much easier but they have to take a test for that!

    I hope you vote Libertarian. You're one of us. Perhaps your screen name indicates that you are.

    Although I have to admit that the world now has problems that Thomas Jefferson could not have solved. I'm beginning to feel more favorable to the Green Party, after noting that neither of the Republocrat candidates mentioned climate change in those so-called "debates."

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