Ethics Quiz: The Smokeless Tobacco Ban

Chicago recently became the fourth city—Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco—to enact a ban on using smokeless tobacco in sports stadiums. I initially ignored it, in part because I never use the stuff and have never known anyone who did, and in part because I knew that Major League Baseball has been trying, with some success, to discourage its ballplayers from chewing and especially spitting on camera, since it is a) disgusting and b) encourages impressionable tykes to take up an ugly and perilous habit. I’m inspired to make the issue an ethics quiz because of the pronouncements of law professor-blogger Jonathan Turley on the issue and the vociferous debate his comments sparked on his blog.

Turley wrote…

This is a lawful product like smoking tobacco. People have a right to make choices about their lifestyle so long as they do not harm others. That is why I always supported the bans on smoking in public areas due to the second-hand smoke research. That is an externalized harm. What is the externalized harm of smokeless tobacco?

…I happen to deeply dislike smoking and I find chewing tobacco disgusting. I also do not question the link to serious health problems like cancer. However, that should be the subject of an educational campaign by the government and MLB. Yet, in the end, people need to be able to make choices in our society rather than go down the path to paternalistic legislation regulating our good and bad choices.

His supporters on the blog were typified by this comment by Beth (not our Beth, I presume)…

“Tobacco, in all forms, is NOT a singular activity that affects no one else. Tobacco use weighs very heavily on the public at large in the form of health care costs, higher insurance premiums, toxic litter, poisoned air and ground spit. To suggest that limiting tobacco, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes should not be controlled substances goes against all manner of policy for the public good. Wrong stance, Mr. Turley.”

This comment, from “wonderer,” is a fair summation of the other side, which mostly came from the libertarian side of the metaphorical aisle:

“The efforts to ban “icky” behaviors are of a piece with the bans or taxes on sugared beverages. What seems to be happening is that some people want to push bans on behaviors of “out of favor” groups. Those “big soda” people are Walmart denizens, so they clearly need to be told what to do. But keep hands off urban bicycling. As risky as that is, it’s one of the things “enlightened” people do. Bans (at least here in California) seem to be all about the condescension.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is a ban on smokeless tobacco in ballparks an abuse of government power and an unethical breach of personal choice, autonomy and liberty, or is it a responsible use of government power to encourage public health and safety?

I’ll hold my fire on this one until sufficient numbers weigh in. Remember, the issue here isn’t policy, but ethics.

 

 

68 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: The Smokeless Tobacco Ban

  1. I think the ban is ethical. It’s a fine line and I don’t think there can be meaningful or effective enforcement, but I think it’s ethical. You know who will have this enforced against them? Those who spit a glob of chew on the ground or chuck a cup of spit at someone else. Those who chew responsibly will likely never be enforced.

  2. Many years ago I was involved with a group called GASP (Group Against Smoking Pollution). Our goal was simple: Ban smoking in supermarkets in Massachusetts. Our approach was to make smoking a public health issue and thus, remove it from becoming a political circus. The success of our endeavours is quite clear.

    Smokeless tobacco is not a banned substance but a regulated one. Baseball does not give a squat about what the players and customers do on their free time with the product but have limits on where it can be used. They choose to keep it out of the park – good. That applies to other businesses.

    In Massachusetts, many towns and cities require that you now be 21 years old to purchase tobacco products and some are pushing for 25. I would support both if they also apply the same age limit to lottery tickets (fat chance).

    Smoking is now well regulated and some of it is self-regulated. No need to raise limits – JMO.

  3. I’ll throw a curve ball in here. I think it should be negotiated between the players union and Major League Baseball. Let’s face it, the only place it’s a problem is in the dugouts and on the field. I can’t remember ever, ever seeing anyone in a ball park other than a player chewing and spitting.

    I suspect the union opposition to agreeing to such a ban would be that chewing tobacco, aka spit tobacco, is a nicotine delivery system and therefore essentially a PED, like caffeine in massive amounts of coffee available in dugouts and clubhouses. It’s a long season. Almost two hundred games.

    • The player ban isn’t uncommon for minor league teams. In the late 90s my son was a batboy for a Double-a team in the Southern League. He would come home with bags of sunflower seeds every game. The team wasn’t allowed to use any form of smokeless tobacco while in the stadium. Instead they were given sunflower seeds. One could argue that spitting seed hulls wasn’t much better than spitting tobacco. But, sunflower seeds didn’t stain shoes or clothes.

      • Isn’t there a scene in one of those baseball goof movies where the players in the dugout are up to their chests in sunflower seed shells by about the third inning?

        • I discovered sunflower seeds when I was 14, and ate so many that my blood pressure shot up to the point where my doctor had me taking a diuretic before my 15th birthday. It was the salt. When my doctor finally figured out what was happening, I had saved 4 or 5 large shopping bags of shells which I had planned to use by filling up the inside of my brothers Volkswagon Beetle. A change in diet brought down my blood pressure for a few years, and I never did complete my project. The bags of “spent,” shells remained inside of my father’s otherwise unused navy locker in the garage for at least 20 years after I had moved out. At one point my parents discovered them and were more disgusted than amused.

          Salt, nicotine, caffeine, sugar… sheesh where shall it end?

          Oh, and the owner of the team and or stadium should be able to set their own rules regarding smokeless tobacco. It is their business.

  4. I think the ban is ethical, for health reasons if nothing else:
    And why not? Electronic cigarettes don’t burn and so there is no smoke. And no smoke means no second-hand smoke. And no second-hand smoke means no health worries for the non-e-cig public who happen to be in the vicinity. Sounds reasonable and what a boon for nicotine addicts. Relegated, lo all these years, to standing outside in the freezing cold or blistering heat to get their fix and unable to inhale while in flight, now e-cig users can reenter conventional society.

    But is there really no second-hand “smoke”?

    Don’t be so sure. A small study by Wolfgang Schober of the Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority and colleagues published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health in December found that vaping worsened indoor air quality, specifically by increasing the concentration of nicotine, particulate matter, PAHs and aluminum — compounds that have been linked to lung and cardiovascular disease and cancer among other health effects.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-chameides/e-cigs-and-second-hand-va_b_4948399.html

    • Agreed that the ban is ethical on grounds of public health — the nicotine is still there, absorbed by the mouth tissues, and no less addictive than it always was* — as far as I can see, nicotine alone should be enough to put it on the legally proscribed lists (but yes, that’s another subject for another day).* “Education” against addictive ‘recreational’ drugs has never been effective. What clear conclusions there are on anything about all forms of smokeless tobacco is that it has NOT been very effective in smoking cessation; instead, among teenagers, including athletes, the two forms of tobacco are often being used in conunction.

      I agree with Tim LeVier that it would be difficult to police, particularly when it is known that many ballplayers are habitual users.
      There’s a very peculiar article on baseball and chawbaccky** here:
      http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2012/mar/14/citylights1-chewing-tobacco/#

      *That being said, having your teeth fall out isn’t a healthy outcome either. How does that happen, you ask? Chew and spit tobaccos irritate and eventually destroy gum tissue (regardless of expensive toothbrushes and regular checkups), which leads to receding gums, gum disease, cavities and tooth decay, and scratching, abrasion and bone loss around the teeth. The surface of the tooth root can then be exposed, leading teeth to loosen and fall out. And THAT being said, both doctors and cancer organizations are reluctant to let go of the idea of a 1:1 correlation between smokeless tobacco and oral cancers that has been shot down by repeated studies; unlike both first- and second-hand tobacco smoke that has long been known to be directly related to COPD and lung cancer.

      ** Or was that the name of a character in Star Wars?

      • The correlation disappears when you remove the previous smokers and sometimes smoke. I am not saying using smokeless is healthy but it isn’t a public health concern. Linked is a study that was done specifically targeted West Virginia, the largest consumer of smokeless, turns out they have a lower oral cancer rate than the rest of the US.

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9868728

        • You are correct, Steve. And I was on a tobacco soap-box, not excused by the mere “nicotine alone SHOULD be enough to put it on the legally proscribed lists.” Public Health is just that. I am in favor of NO ban.

          However, I did comment on the oral cancer, if you will re-read: “both doctors and cancer organizations are reluctant to let go of the idea of a 1:1 correlation between smokeless tobacco and oral cancers that has been shot down by repeated studies” I am very careful about reporting on health issues.

      • The idea that a ban becomes ethical if the behavior is self destructive would require the banning of alcohol, processed foods, sugary drinks, energy drinks, candy and Twinkies… Just to name a few consumption items. This idea should be anathema to any reasonably liberty minded person, or anyone who takes a minute to think about it.

        “Education” against addictive ‘recreational’ drugs has never been effective.”

        Is especially stupid, Sorry Penn. It depends on the drug. We’re talking about Nicotine, right? Have you seen the national smoking rates? They’re declining, and have been for decades. Concentrated education is the answer. But more:

        “What clear conclusions there are on anything about all forms of smokeless tobacco is that it has NOT been very effective in smoking cessation; instead, among teenagers, including athletes, the two forms of tobacco are often being used in conunction.”

        E-Cigarettes are not a form of tobacco, they are a source of nicotine. So are eggplants and potatoes (if at much smaller concentrations)((To be clear: eggplants and potatoes are not tobacco either.)). And were e-cigarettes ever actually marketed as smoking cessation? I’ll be honest, they might have been, but the ads I’ve seen were mostly “It’s not smoke, it’s water vapor” that gave the impression you wouldn’t have to freeze your ass 10 feet from a public entrance way. This is like bemoaning that the little dixie cups of water they hand out during marathons are not effective in reducing litter. Their purpose isn’t to reduce litter, it’s to hydrate, but if we found a cup that decomposed cleaner: all the good.

        “instead, among teenagers, including athletes, the two forms of tobacco are often being used in conunction.”

        Is a chicken and egg fallacy, actual tobacco consumption is on the decline across all demographics. It’s much more likely that teenagers who were already smoking opted into e cigarettes than teenagers started with e cigarettes and decided to take up smoking.

        • Ah, so you picked up on an erroneous use of tobacco instead of its chief addictive ingredient, Nicotine. Clever that. The studies stand: young men (aka boys) in particular have not only taken to tobacco and smoking substitutes, they have simply added the new nicotine providers to their lives. Whether E-s or snus or whatever they can get hold of that contains the drug (including patches: now there’s a correlation with alcohol for you — get kindly Uncle Kinny to buy some Nicoderm and slip it to ya on the sly).

          As for the rest of your rant, see my reply to Steve, above.

          • I am pretty clever, thank you. That said, I don’t think you are. Words mean things, and I think that as opposed to crying about me reading what you wrote and addressing it as you wrote it, you might want to own your mistake, and resolve to attempt to do better in the future. Regardless.

            You didn’t actually address what I wrote. You didn’t in the reply to Steve either. I’m not sure if this is a reading comprehension or laziness problem. I mean… You don’t have a duty to reply to me, I obviously can’t make you reply to me, but I can at least call out a little bit of bullshit. So here: Stay with me! Ignore the squirrel! Focus!

            In order:

            1) I disagree in the strongest of terms with the idea that a product having adverse effects makes a ban on that product ethical. I think it’s stupid to even suggest, and I think less of you for writing it, because even suggesting it required a fundamental lack of thought that I just can’t ignore.

            2) Education has absolutely, empirically, been shown to decrease use of addictive substances, and especially recreational drug use. Tobacco usage prevalence has dropped from The mid forties to the high teens in America over the last 60 or so years, specifically because the adverse effects of tobacco were dragged kicking and screaming into the light. It may have required a generational change, but it worked.

            3) I can’t think of a marketing promotion that ever said that E cigarettes could or should be used as smoking cessation. I think in that you made up a use for them that no one really thought of, and then bemoaned their inability to do the thing they weren’t conceived with in mind. Unfortunately, bacon is not a dietary aid, either. I think that E cigarettes were sold as alternatives to producing smoke (So they didn’t have to stand out in the cold) and as being healthier than smoking (See below*).

            4) “The studies stand: young men (aka boys) in particular have not only taken to tobacco and smoking substitutes, they have simply added the new nicotine providers to their lives.”

            Underage smoking is not new, and the rates at which they smoke is reducing. Every concurrent generation is smoking less, and that’s even if you include E cigarettes with tobacco.

            I want to point out again: E cigarettes are not a smoking cessation program, and they were never meant to be. Your assumption that they are somehow bad because they don’t fulfill that lofty goal is baseless and unfair.

            *Also: While the science is still out of the exact health ramifications of E cigarettes, the science is not out on cigarettes or nicotine: Nicotine is one of about 4000 chemicals in a cigarette, and aside from being addictive does not carry anything approaching a serious side effect. Nicotine is not a carcinogen, it does not cause necrosis, it does not cause respiratory distress. I’m not going to say that E cigarettes are healthy, or even health neutral, but I think that unless new information comes to light, it is reasonable to assume that they vault the low bar of being less damaging than tobacco.

            • (1) I voted NO on the ban.
              (2) I never mentioned education.
              (3) I never mentioned marketing. You are arguing with yourself and, pathetically, losing.
              (4) The Surgeon General of the United States: “ Report on Smokeless Tobacco in the U.S. September 9, 2015.
              Although cigarette smoking in the U.S. has been on the
              decline, the latest survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that the use of smokeless tobacco among youth has increased steadily since 1999. In 2013, the CDC showed that 14.7 percent of high school boys and 8.8 percent of all high school girls reported current use of smokeless tobacco products. Each year, an estimated more than 400,000 kids age 12-17 use smokeless tobacco for the first time. In 16 sates smokeless tobacco use among high school boys is higher thn the national rate, with the highest boys’ rates in highest boys’ rates iAlabama (23.1%), Arkansas (24.2%), Kentucky (22.3%), Montana (21.6%), North
              Dakota (22.0%), Oklahoma (21.2%), Tennessee (20.9%), West Virginia (27.4%) and Wyoming (21.9%),

              Dual Use: Smokeless Tobacco Use and Cigarette Smoking
              Research shows that youth who use smokeless tobacco are also more likely to smoke cigarettes. For example, according to a 2010 study based on data from national U.S. surveys, the prevalence of cigarette smoking is substantially higher among middle and high school males who use smokeless tobacco than among those who do not. For 12th
              grade males, the prevalence of smoking one half pack of cigarettes or more per day was nearly five times greater among smokeless tobacco users than non-users. The
              national Monitoring the Future Survey of secondary school students reports that 20 to 50 percent of daily smokeless tobacco users are also daily smokers.
              Dual use of smokeless tobacco and cigarettes is concerning, because users can face greater health risk than they would from using either product alone. Youth smokers, including those who transitioned from smokeless products put themselves at greater risk for tobacco
              [now pay attention HT: here’s your marketing]
              Phillip Morris USA’s Marlboro Snus are now sold nationally in a variety of flavors, and Ligget Group;s Grand Prix Snus and Lorillard’s Triumph Snus were test marketed in 2008. Because these products do not require spitting, their use can be easily concealed. One high school studene\t admitted using Camel Snus during class, saying, “It’s easy, it’s super discreet and none of the teachers will ever know what I’m doing.”
              In addition, Star Scientific’s Ariva tobacco lozenges and Stonewall Hard Snuff, both forms of dissolvable tobacco pellets were test marketed in three cities in 2009. R. J. Reynolds pulled the products due to reports of health risks, though they put them back out for limited testing in 2013
              Camel Orbs are pellets of ground tobacco resembling tic tacs, Camel Strips are flat sheets of ground tobacco that work like
              dissolvable breath strips, and Camel Sticks are toothpick
              -like sticks of ground tobacco. The Indiana Poison Center issued a warning that the products’ resemblance to non-tobacco products put children at risk for accidental poisoning.
              As required bythe Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco
              Control Act of 2009, the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee of the US. Federal Drug Administration reviewed the products and released a report stating they had “concluded that the available evidence, while limited,
              leads to a qualitative judgment that availability of DTPs
              [dissolvable tobacco products] could increase the number of users of tobacco products.

              Meanwhile, Philip Morris USA has also introduced its own
              toothpick-like product ith flavored tobacco coating under both the brand name of the most popular cigarettes, Marlboro, and
              one of the most popular smokeless tobacco products, Skoal. These Marlboro and Skoal Sticks come in our flavors and have been testmarketed in select markets in Kansas starting in March 2011.
              The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) issued a warning about the products

              Predictions
              –Increased youth access to smokeless tobacco products as the new low-weight tobacco products continue to be inadequately taxed at the state and federal level.
              –Increased efforts by smokeless manufacturers to encourage adult smokers who are concerned about their health or were interested in quitting to switch to smokeless tobacco rather than quit completely
              — Increase in nicotine addiction due to dual use of smokeless and combusted tobacco products light of increasing limitations on public indoor and workplace smoking.
              –Increased youth experimentation with smokeless tobacco (due to the ability to use it discretely/secretly) and it could be a deterrent to youth tobacco use cessation efforts.
              — Decreased cessation rates as smokers use smokeless tobacco products in places they cannot smoke rather than being abstinent from tobacco and nicotine exposure.

              (5) If Steve or anyone else is dissatisfied with my response or wishes to continue the conversation, I’m sure they can decide for themselves. However, in your case, since you continue to misrepresent simple statements, willfully (or stupidly) misunderstand my intent, then proceed to invent ill-researched or ridiculous arguments stretched out from your own misapprehensions, you may expect no reply from me in future.

              • #WhichPenn

                “(1) I voted NO on the ban.”

                “pennagain
                March 21, 2016 at 9:22 am
                Agreed that the ban is ethical on grounds of public health — the nicotine is still there, absorbed by the mouth tissues, and no less addictive than it always was* — as far as I can see, nicotine alone should be enough to put it on the legally proscribed lists (but yes, that’s another subject for another day).*”

                “(2) I never mentioned education.”

                pennagain
                March 21, 2016 at 9:22 am
                “Education” against addictive ‘recreational’ drugs has never been effective.”

                “(3) I never mentioned marketing. You are arguing with yourself and, pathetically, losing.”

                What you said was:

                “What clear conclusions there are on anything about all forms of smokeless tobacco is that it has NOT been very effective in smoking cessation;”

                And what I said was:

                “And were e-cigarettes ever actually marketed as smoking cessation? I’ll be honest, they might have been, but the ads I’ve seen were mostly “It’s not smoke, it’s water vapor” that gave the impression you wouldn’t have to freeze your ass 10 feet from a public entrance way.”

                I’d expect nothing more from you than to get hung up on the word “marketing”. My point was that E cigs weren’t ever meant to be used as smoking cessation aids, and you saying they failed to curb smoking trends is stupid. Umbrellas don’t act as electric grounds

                “(4) The Surgeon General of the United States: “ Report on Smokeless Tobacco in the U.S. September 9, 2015. (…)”

                I’d love you to site that. I couldn’t find the source document, and the spelling errors lead me to believe that this came from an advocacy site that drastically edited or misrepresented a real study. “In 16 sates smokeless tobacco use among high school boys is higher thn the national rate, with the highest boys’ rates in highest boys’ rates iAlabama

                “[now pay attention HT: here’s your marketing]”

                I read it, I’m still not sure what point you’re trying to make. Point four had the following points in it: A) Kids already smoke, B) The rate of kids who smoke is decreasing, C) E cigs were meant as a more continent and less unhealthy alternative and D) While E cigs might not be healthy, they are most probably less unhealthy than tobacco in reality.

                To which you copy-pasted an article that spelled ‘student’ as ‘studene\t’ that said that kids who smoke tend to also vape. Part of me wants to send the author back to school, the other doesn’t care, because what it says is irrelevant. Of course vaping and smoking usage will correlate. But cessation rates ARE still increasing, startup rates ARE still decreasing, and smokeless tobacco probably is less unhealthy that tobacco… So what’s your point?

                “(5) If Steve or anyone else is dissatisfied with my response or wishes to continue the conversation, I’m sure they can decide for themselves. However, in your case, since you continue to misrepresent simple statements, willfully (or stupidly) misunderstand my intent, then proceed to invent ill-researched or ridiculous arguments stretched out from your own misapprehensions, you may expect no reply from me in future.”

                My achy breaky heart, be still.

  5. I sat literally three feet away from a guy for ten hours a day for a couple of months before others clued me in that he was chewing and using a soda can as a discreet spittoon. There has to be a very strong bias against the extension of state power, and I don’t think a sweeping ban passes that test.

  6. Unethical. Maybe banning spitting on the ground, requiring some sort of closed container, because at least that can be claimed to be about littering, but where does it end? Beth’s claim about healthcare costs justifying the ban could be applied to countless things. Maybe next will be
    compulsory application of sunscreen at the ticket window to prevent skin cancer?

  7. For city owned stadiums, I think it is a perfectly appropriate policy. To force it on privately owned stadiums (do any exist in the majors?), I think would be an overreach, although private owners may adopt such a policy as well.

    There are at least three justifications for banning chewing tobacco: public health policy, litter policy, and exclusive commercial use. Public health includes both the promotion of healthy behaviors such a participation in athletics, as well as the discouraging of unhealthy behaviors, such as discouraging any tobacco use off of private property. This bleeds into litter policy, as copious amounts of spit soaked chews being left around would not be the least bit sanitary. Even sugar-free chewing gum could be banned under this justification. Finally, exclusive commercial vending; the same reason patrons are not permitted to bring their own beer into a stadium could justify excluding chewing tobacco.

    The last two, in particular, address immediate harm to the stadium owners caused by smokeless tobacco: super gross litter, and consumption of a product not bought on site. The first one is a bit of a nanny-state reason on its own, but discouraging use of a cancer-causing chew is a nice side-effect of reducing litter and competition for vending services in the stadium.

    The overreach in this policy would be forcing it on private property owners. If a stadium owner pays taxes, and has no other public investment, he should be permitted to risk littering and consumption of any legal substance he pleases. If the city or county have a large stake or incentive package, that exclusive owner right diminishes, although a remedy of release from the incentive package ought to be honored.

    The bottom line is that I do not see any inherent right to consume smokeless tobacco on public property in general, or within an entertainment venue of any ownership arrangement in particular. Venue attendees are free to consume cancer-causing chew (or cavity causing full sugar gum, etc) on their own dime on their own property, but not necessarily in any park or venue, where the risk of litter and spit cause a real impact on others. Thus imposing this policy on venues with significant public investment is not an unethical proposal.

  8. I think it’s unethical, as opposed to smoking bans which can be justified ethically by secondhand smoke and the fact that many people consider smoking to be a nuisance (Full Disclosure, tobacco smoke gives me personally a raging headache). It’s also dangerous when people nearby have asthma or other similar respiratory issues (The same logic as when my high school banned the obnoxious fad of spraying Axe spray around on school buses). An outright ban on smokeless tobacco has all of the intrusion with none of the justification. Smokeless tobacco is no more of a nuisance than gum, and you’re only harming yourself. Even though I personally find it a repellent habit, that’s not a justification for action. That being said, Like joed I can see a ban on spitting on the ground or leaving spit containers around from a littering perspective, but that’s it.

    • Agreed to all, I highly doubt any lovers of chew will rush to retrieve any used chew. Second-hand chew is absurd, we should not nanny-ban everything that offends some people or else we’d all be in straight-jackets in little rubber rooms, but we’d be SAFE. What bothers me is that most of the nanny wann-a-be’s I know will have a not-so-secret vice that should fall under some ban. They lack the patience and dedication to use persuasion and education (smoking has been on a continual trend down) but pressuring a city council is faster and easier… They never learned the lessons from Prohibition.

  9. I don’t think a clear-cut case for ethical or not can be made. There exists a line separating the behavior a government should be allowed to regulate and the behavior that should be left to the free discretion of individual persons. Our inability to determine and agree upon the exact location of that line prevents us from making a call as to the ethicality of the prohibition. Without this crucial fact (i.e., the actual location of where we ought to draw the line), any determination of ethicality must be based on conjecture and opinion. Personally, I see a dangerous slippery slope leading to government intrusion into every aspect of our lives that will eventually destroy our capability to make rational and free choices. Folks on the other side of the political spectrum see no problem with this. As for me, unless the city has a majority ownership stake in the sporting venues, I believe the prohibition is unethical. (However, I also know this belief is based upon opinions I cannot prove.)

  10. Unethical, but I am biased. What I have in my mouth is not anyone’s business but my own, gum, cough drop or dip doesn’t matter. If you want to add the tobacco to the littering laws fine, stupid but defensible. Smokeless tobacco comes in several forms how are they going to distinguish what is what? There is also jerky and herbs that are similarly used that look just like it. It would be mostly unenforceable, are they going to search each persons mouth before entry? Is possession in the facility illegal? If not it is a worthless ban, even those who prefer big leaf will just switch to snuff and no one will know. Idiots

  11. Someone presented the basic issue in this way: “Tobacco, in all forms, is NOT a singular activity that affects no one else. Tobacco use weighs very heavily on the public at large in the form of health care costs, higher insurance premiums, toxic litter, poisoned air and ground spit. To suggest that limiting tobacco, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes should not be controlled substances goes against all manner of policy for the public good. Wrong stance, Mr. Turley.”

    The Ethics Quiz Question is: “Is a ban on smokeless tobacco in ballparks an abuse of government power and an unethical breach of personal choice, autonomy and liberty, or is it a responsible use of government power to encourage public health and safety?”
    _________________________

    The clear issue is that no one can or should control what legal substance a person puts in their mouth. They can only control what comes out of it: how and where.

    Everything hinges on how strong an agreement there is by the constituency of that city or state to give decisive power to the municipal entity in questions of health and safety.

    I think the issue revolves strictly around spitting:

    Spitting, I always thought, is illegal, and it is generally recognized as antisocial behavior. What a person puts in his mouth in public and what he choses to masticate and swallow is obviously beyond the reach of anyone, either government or person. But what one ejects from one’s mouth in public, or in any environment where the public congregates, seems eminently controllable: subject to law.

    It would seem to me that the only real way to control what is offensive in the act, is to firmly insist that no part of what one is masticating exit one’s own body.

    If using chewing tobacco is legal, and if the user does not eject it inappropriately onto the ground, I cannot see how a municipality, a private mall, or any other person has a ground to prohibit it.

    • Example of a Massachusetts spitting law (I assume it is in force today)(google search):

      “Section 14. Whoever expectorates or spits upon any public sidewalk, or upon any place used exclusively or principally by pedestrians, or, except in receptacles provided for the purpose, in or upon any part of any city or town hall, any court house or court room, any public library or museum, any church or theatre, any lecture or music hall, any mill or factory, any hall of any tenement building occupied by five or more families, any school building, any ferry boat or steamboat, any railroad car or elevated railroad car, except a smoking car, any street railway car, any railroad or railway station or waiting room, or on any track, platform or sidewalk connected therewith, and included within the limits thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than twenty dollars.”

      “Section 15. Any person detected in the act of violating the preceding section may, if his name is unknown to the officer, be arrested without a warrant by any officer authorized to serve criminal process in the place where the offence is committed and kept in custody until he can be taken before a court having jurisdiction of such offence.”

    • “Is a ban on smokeless tobacco in ballparks an abuse of government power and an unethical breach of personal choice, autonomy and liberty, or is it a responsible use of government power to encourage public health and safety?”
      ______________________

      Abuse of government power and unethical because it is a breach.

      (Next, God forbid, they will establish a law forbidding the entry into ballparks of Texan hyper-libertarians.)

  12. The short story:

    Neither ethical nor unethical, but (Federalism for the win), I’d consider totally within a city or locale’s power to restrict within public places if the people so choose. Elevate this power to higher levels or a larger scope of ban and I’ll then switch my opinion to unethical.

        • I assume you mean spitting for any reason, not just associated with tobacco. As much as I find people spitting on the sidewalk or parking lot nasty, and I use smokeless, I am not sure it can be regulated. Urinating in public is regulated through decency laws, what is the mechanism to regulate spitting?

            • If that’s the case, then someone who is willing to swallow his tobacco juice or expectorate into a hanky or personal receptacle should not be stopped from using the product. I’m pretty sure it isn’t just the spitting.

              • If it isn’t the spitting – I cannot image what else would have been the trigger for reaction against the chewing of tobacco – and if they regulate against it for any other reason, or claimed reason, then it is doubly unethical.

                But I have wondered about government and the health issue in the context of publicly funded health service programs, as in Europe (and Latin America to some extent): If the state is offering health coverage, and this is a publicly-funded service, it seems to me that the government has a case in prohibiting and discouraging unsafe practices, since it is the government/public that has to pay for it.

                If one does not have state coverage, and if one’s health issues will fall upon the state if one abuses oneself, I can see why the state (city, municipality) would feel some justification in intervening. By prohibiting the usage, or taxing the offending substance to make it harder to obtain.

                If this is so: “Tobacco use weighs very heavily on the public at large in the form of health care costs”, then it seems to me that the state has justice and ethics on its side.

                There is a strong dual ethical issue here in that case.

                  • Then the issue is that of ‘influence’ and ‘persuasion’ at the core. It means that an adult must modify his activities – not only in this but in all realms – because it will occur, inevitably, that children will imitate adults. The argument ‘I can do what I wish as long as it does not directly harm another’ is seen to have not one, or ten, but hundreds of false bottoms.

                    (I am actually quite interested in this realm of ethics: that what one does, from the smallest to the largest, will have ramifications everywhere. What I notice is that (in this case apparently) they acknowledge the ‘influence effect’ but will deny it (perhaps) in other areas where they are permissive and they don’t want someone else’s morality to constrain them.)

                    If that is a workable argument, and if one is going to push it forward, many adult activities, hobbies, sports activities, rock-climbing, downhill skating, horseback riding, certainly the profession of jockey – and zillions of other activities – will have to be abandoned. It seems you’d have to take it to the farthest points: they say eating lots of red meat statistically increases the danger of cancer. Alcohol consumption. It’s endless.

                    The reason I didn’t focus on that (chewing might cause cancer and influence children to take up the habit) is because you cannot buy tobacco products unless you are 18 year old (generally), and at that age you are seen as capable of consent. A child using those products is breaking the law. It is not an illegal product for adults.

                  • Since there is not much of an issue with cancer and smokeless tobacco, it’s not an argument. This is known, at least at college age, and since so many doctors and organizations insist on using the lie as a frightener, the falseness of the argument just makes it harder to deal with the problem: it doesn’t stop kids smoking, it encourages them to do so.

                    • 3/23 @ 4:02am was a response to Jack 3/21 @6:08pm. When it comes to arguments against smokeless tobacco, close correlations with cancer are off the table. Dental problems, yes, medium-to-long term for sure. Wanna be toothless as 50?

          • And I’d consider it a form of littering. At least in terms of the spirit of the law or the ethics involved- an individual is disposing of something of theirs on someone else’s property and not in a reasonably delineated receptacle (such as a trash can or a cup that the individual plans on throwing away later)

      • But that’s one of those Public places vs public places distinctions that gets us libertarians all in hissy. As a hyper libertarian I can be sympathetic with the argument that “it’s a *privately* owned stadium argument. But then you run into the same issues that confound the antidiscrimination laws. Hyper libertarians will say let private sellers discriminate all they want, it’s only their bottom line they are hurting, but we argue that though those places are privately owned, they are public accommodations and therefore there are some restrictions that can be placed on them if the argument can be made.

        I’d think a sport stadium would fall in that category. And, in my view of history and the American system, if an argument can be made to support such a restriction, leave it to the lowest political entity to handle that kind of power, so that if some want it they can have it and if some don’t they don’t have tk have it.

  13. The smokeless cigarettes do not contain tobacco. They do contain nicotine however, and the health risks are unknown at this point. They emit a vapor but in my experience they do not smell like tobacco. Actually, I would be much more worried about somebody having too many beers sitting next to me. The city of Chicago has gone too far in banning these smokeless cigarettes.

    • The dangers (or not) of vaping are not yet in, though there have been preliminary studies. It takes years to sign off on the short-term effects of new products and sometimes decades or more to determine long-term damages. The public doesn’t like to wait. It wants what its heart wants: NOW! The issue is not whether the vaper on one side of you is going to do something or not; it’s what he’s doing to himself. Same with the drunk next to you on the other side. Question is whether the government, at any level, is going to step in and, if so, if the public will tolerate it. We keep coming back to the fact that the Volstead Act just didn’t cut it.

  14. Spitting isn’t just disgusting it can also spread disease. TB and other bacteria or viruses are often contained in spit, living for hours. In schools and libraries I was always advised to treat it the same as blood. Spitting chaw onto the ground or leaving a spit cup about is a wonderful breeding ground. FYI, leaving a spit cup at a public computer or spilling it is a quick way to get banned from the library.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.