Why is it so difficult to ban smoking?

China has recently banned smoking in public places and this measure has been met with skepticism. The enforcement is likely suspect. With such a large population dependant on tobacco, it will be a miracle to “eradicate” this menace. (Read this)

Why is it so difficult to ban smoking despite all the evidence pointing to detrimental effects to our health?

No one has clear answers to this.

Could it be addiction? Even if the legitimate sources are snuffed out, the availability of cigarettes in the black market is likely to flourish. Stemming the inflow of cigarettes is like trying to keep drugs out. It is almost impossible to make our borders impenetrable. Regulation rather than a total ban is often chosen. Moreover, many of our lawmakers themselves are smokers. Smokers will continue to smoke!

Could it be the money? Often tobacco companies are cash flushed and support many causes from politics to charities. Many of these companies have also diversified their activities making them less reliant on tobacco alone. Therefore, these companies are here to stay and chiding them may threaten to remove this financial resource.

Enforcement? I won’t even start on this as it will be close to impossible to have any realistic enforcement and may be a total waste of public funds.

Ultimately, it is about education. Teaching students when they are very young on the ills of smoking. Teachers themselves need to be good role models and not take up that habit. Investing on educating future generations is the key to stem the tide of new smokers!

There is no shortcut route like what China is doing today. It is a waste of time to have a blanket ban on smoking. Malaysia did that years ago and it has clearly failed. New strategies need to be employed and we need to work from thee ground up.

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