It is common knowledge that traditional cigarettes present an array of health risks. What often goes unmentioned about cigarette smoking, however, is the impact they are having on our environment. The butts left behind by a smoker are found on our streets, sidewalks, and just about anywhere you find people. The butts left behind by smokers take 18 months to 10 years to decompose.
The butts are not only an unsightly trash problem, but the chemicals found in the filters are leaving behind toxins. When cigarette butts get washed into storm drains they get washed into the ocean. The tar and toxins seep into the soil and affect the fish and birds that come in contact with them.
A greener alternative to cigarettes is choosing to use an electronic cigarette. Electronic cigarettes are re-usable and powered by rechargeable batteries. A single nicotine cartridge is often the equivalent to an entire pack of cigarettes. Not only are electronic cigarettes better for the environment, they are better for the health of the user and the people surrounding them.
After hearing about all the health risks associated with smoking tobacco cigarettes, governments have started to take an initiative and ban the smoking of cigarettes in public places. Some states allow local businesses such as bars and clubs to be exempt, while other states ban the smoking of tobacco cigarettes in a public facility completely. Over the past 10 years, all but 12 states in the United States have passed some form of a state-wide ban on smoking tobacco cigarettes. It is estimated that over 72% of Americans live under some type of public smoking ban.
As there are currently no federal guidelines for smoking bans in America, each state and local government has the ability to regulate the type of smoking ban that is in effect. If a state has a state-wide ban, that ban must be followed by all local governments; however, the local government has the ability to pass their own amendments to the law which are often times stricter than the original state ban.
2005 saw the passing of a statewide smoking ban in the state of Washington. The Washington State smoking ban prevents the smoking of tobacco cigarettes in any public place of business especially bars, clubs and restaurants. Smokers must also be 25 feet away from any windows, doors and ventilation shafts that could go inside a place of business or a public area. The statewide ban does not go as far as to ban smoking of tobacco cigarettes in a private workplace or a private residence. This ban also allows for 25% of hotel and motel rooms to be reserved for smoking rooms.
The smoking of tobacco cigarettes is still permitted on designated Indian reservations across the state of Washington, as Indian reservations do not have to operate under the state laws of Washington and therefore do not have to observe the smoking ban. This allows many casinos and restaurants that are on these premises allow the smoking of tobacco cigarettes indoors, although they have designated non-smoking facilities.
Almost every state has some form of unique local smoking bans. However, California has some of the strictest overall state smoking bans when it comes to the smoking of tobacco cigarettes.
California smoking ban bans the ability to smoke tobacco cigarettes in any enclosed area of work such as restaurants, bars, clubs and offices. Various provisions are made for hotels and motels such as allowing 65% of the rooms to be used for smoking, designated smoking areas in hotel lobbies and the ability for small private workplaces that employee no more than 5 people to allow smoking.
Other bans in California include the inability to smoke tobacco cigarettes within 20 feet of a working door or window in a public facility. California also banned smoking of tobacco cigarettes in a vehicle where a minor child (one who is under 18) is present. This ban was put into effect after a study suggested that children exposed to second-hand smoke inhaled over 75% of the toxins and poisons associated with second-hand smoke.
Recently California lawmakers proposed a ban on smoking in public parks and beaches. While the state ban on that has not happened, many local city governments have already taken the step and banned smoking on public owed sidewalks, bus stops, beaches, parks and other public areas.
While these state-wide smoking bans were put into effect in order to help decrease the risk to public health that second-hand smoke is associated with such as an increased susceptibility to cancer, breathing difficulty and hair and skin problems, they also served the purpose of helping decrease the amount of tobacco smokers. By making the ability to smoke tobacco cigarettes harder in public places it has caused many smokers to seek an alternative means to smoking such as nicotine gum or electronic cigarettes.