Struggle Against Smoking Violates Smokers' Rights?

Members of the State Duma are preparing a new revision of the legislation limiting tobacco smoking. According to Nikolai Gerasimenko, deputy chair of the health protection committee, the document will ban smoking in private vehicles.

Would this ban be followed by a ban for listening music, drinking, speaking and thinking? These activities can be distractive, too.

It is an interesting piece of legislation because it means that if legislators are busy with laws like these there are no more complicated issues left in Russia, at least in traffic and health protection areas.

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Something is wrong with this picture. The quality of air in cities leaves much to be desired, tap water is not drinkable, swimming is prohibited in most of the places, and a lifestyle of a city person leads to heart attacks and strokes.

But the “civilized world” is concerned with fighting smoking. Smokers turned into oppressed minority. I am not pleading for everyone to smoke; it is definitely an unhealthy habit.

But Russia considers itself to be a liberal and democratic country. Yet, the impairment of smokers’ rights looks quite strange. Of course, there are plenty of places where smoking is not allowed, for instance, gas stations or airplanes. Smoking in public places might not be a good idea either.

But why the society that is fighting for the protection of non-smokers’ rights impairs the rights of smokers? This cannot be justified by the care for their health. Fast food is harmful, too, and real meat is hard to find in sausage, and other foods do not contain too many natural ingredients.

Adults should be responsible for themselves. If they want to breathe smoke let them do it. In many cities smog is much more dangerous than cigarette smoke.

It seems logical to protect the right of non-smokers to breathe fresh air. However, elimination of designated smoking places by many businesses makes employees spend half an hour for a cigarette since they have to leave the building and come back. Some do not even have a right to go for a smoking break, which does not have a very positive influence on their performance.

Cigarettes are not healthy, but they help smokers relax and concentrate.

The appropriate solution that does not violate anyone’s right is very simple. It is separate sections for smokers and non-smokers, designated smoking areas, etc. I think that using stairs and toilets for smoking is much worse than using specially designated areas, both for smokers and non-smokers.

Some like to say “you are smoking around kids!” In this case it is clear that situations can be different. It is not a good idea to smoke in a kindergarten, but if you come to a smoking section in a restaurant with a kid it is another story.

If the modern society protects liberties, it should protect everyone’s liberty, not those of select groups.

Andrei Bortsov

Read the original in Russian

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov