Public Smoking on the National Mall: Ban or Not? Essay

Outdoor public smoking on the National Mall should be banned because it is risky for nonsmokers and the cigarette butts cause a litter problem. When people smoke in public, not only do they risk their own health, they risk the health of the general public. One could argue that smokers should have a designated smoking area on the National Mall, but according to the World Health Organization, there are no safe levels of second-hand smoke whether it is indoors or outdoors. Toxins that our lungs are exposed to on a consistent basis, which is caused by secondhand smoke, can be dangerous to our health.

Chemicals such as benzene and arsenic are inhaled from second-hand smoking and can cause cancer. The National Mall is one of the largest tourist attractions in Washington, DC and it attracts millions of people, including families. If a child is not subjected to the toxins from cigarettes at home and in their daily lives, they should not be subjected when they are out of their homes. Even if children were not exposed, non-smokers in general should not be put at risk. Smoke in the air–even outdoors–can cause asthma attacks and bronchial infections, among other reactions.

Smoking in public does not only affect our health but it also affects our environment and can be costly to clean up. Taxpayers should not be responsible for cleaning up the remnants left over from smoking. Cigarette remnants do not stay confined in one area, it tend to spread. It is an eyesore and is unattractive to see on the grounds of the National Mall. Another important issue is, many tend to throw their lighted cigarettes on the ground and it continues to burn. This is a fire hazard and can easily start a fire which poses another threat to public safety.

Being that the National Mall is a huge tourist attraction, it should maintain its beauty. From a smoker’s standpoint, it would be unfair to completely ban smoking on the National Mall. We too pay taxes and contribute towards the cleanup. Also, we have rights like nonsmokers and should not be banned from the National Mall because we smoke. We want to spend time with our families at the National Mall and still be able to smoke if we want. Smokers are aware of the risk caused by smoking and it is our choice what we subject our bodies to.

Nonsmokers should avoid smokers if they are concern about secondhand smoke and their health. To make everyone happy, there should be designated areas for smokers. If nonsmokers enter those areas, they would be doing so at their own risk. In conclusion, banning smoking on the National Mall will protect the public health from the toxins found in cigarettes and will help keep the grounds of the National Mall clean and beautiful. Although smokers may argue about their rights, they do not have the right to litter and risk the lives of the general public visiting the National Mall even if they had a designated area.