Do Governments have a legitimate role to protect citizens from the harmful effects of their own decisions to smoke or are such decisions up to an individual?

Tobacco is one of the most widely-used drugs in the world. Over a billion adults legally smoke tobacco every day. Tobacco is slowing taking a billion people in the world towards doom. The long term health costs are high for smokers, who suffer from various heart and lung diseases, reduced concentration and continually diminishing immunity.

Non-smokers, accompanying smokers or those who are in their close vicinity, also become “Passive” smokers and bear the toll of various inevitable diseases as they inhale the smoke which has an ill-effect on their respiratory systems. Thus, the health costs are high-for smokers themselves, and for the broader community in terms of health care costs and lost productivity. There has been awareness among people from many years, about the ill-effects of smoking and various campaigns run by the government, NGOs and local bodies to encourage people to quit smoking but the result has not been impressive. The solution is to nip the problem in the bud. School authorities and parents should keep a close eye so that children do not start to smoke because they think it is “cool”. They should be made aware of the harmful effects of smoking.

The government could play a vital role too. Smoking should not be high-hand in advertisements and movie commercials which have a significant impact on people. It could levy high taxes on tobacco products to keep people away from its reach. Rules for checking children buying such products should be made stringent.

The onus to protect from such products also lies on individuals as will-power always does the trick. The knowledge of the importance of being healthy has to be realized from within. It goes a long way to check the problem. Thus, the solution requires both legitimate actions of government and firm individual decisions to eliminate the problem.

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