Stricter smoking laws necessary for San Marcos residents

Opinions Columnist | Mass Communication Senior

The city of San Marcos should pass an anti-smoking ordinance in order to provide citizens with the clean, unpolluted air they deserve.

The majority of San Marcos residents polled in a spring survey support stricter smoking regulations according to an Aug. 28 University Star article. City councilmembers are now reevaluating a 1995 ordinance that restricts smoking in designated public areas. The ordinance could potentially ban smoking in bars, restaurants and other private institutions in the city. Local smokers could face inconvenience if the ordinance passes, but it is absolutely necessary if the community wants to avoid the lasting, dangerous consequences that can come attached to smoking.

Smoking is a disgusting habit with consequences that can affect even those who choose not to partake in the activity. One person’s poor decision-making can potentially ruin the health of those around them—anyone who breathes in secondhand smoke is in danger. Even more despicable is the fact that many smokers seem not to care at all.

The leading cause of preventable death in the United States is tobacco use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Each year, smoking accounts for more than 440,000 deaths nationwide. Secondhand smoke, according to the same CDC website, can be a killer as well.

Secondhand smoke is defined as a combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and that which is breathed out. Secondhand smoke is made up of more than 7,000 chemicals according to the CDC website. Hundreds of these chemicals are toxic and about 70 of them can cause cancer. Secondhand smoke causes an estimated 3,400 deaths in nonsmokers due to lung cancer each year in the U.S.

San Marcos is a college town and therefore home to many students who like to smoke with their friends on The Square. Some students start smoking because their friends do, or because they are exposed to cigarettes while drinking or having fun. If fewer people were allowed to smoke in public places such as The Square, students would probably be less likely to pick up the habit in the first place. The ban would not only be positive in that it would reduce the incidences of secondhand smoke, but would also help to prevent more students from becoming addicted.

People should not have to suffer the second-hand consequences of smoking just because some do not care about the irreversible damage cigarettes can do. Survey results indicated 47 percent of residents questioned supported firmer regulations while 26 percent did not according to the same University Star article. San Marcos officials should heed the will of the majority and ban smoking in public locations.

In order to avoid the consequences of secondhand smoke, something must be done—and quickly. San Marcos officials should adopt the proposed smoking ban in order to safeguard the lives of non-smoking citizens.