It's a question that brings a much bigger question and I think it's been discussed some time ago right here on OpiWiki although I don't remember where it was:
How far do we go when freedom crosses the path of other important elements of society, such as security and, in this case - public health?
Most smokers will bring freedom as an argument to defend their rights to smoke. And they're not totally wrong. After all, once we ban cigarettes, where would we stop? Do we ban other dangerous things? How about alcohol? How about firearms ownership? Tanning salons? Race car driving? Red meat? In the end, will we even be able to eat and drink what we want?
Sanitizing society, in general, is an awfully scary concept to me. Because it brings the flag of progressivism along with it. And progressivism is hard to counter. Actually, it's unstoppable. After all, they keep on saying it; you can't stop progress. If you are against it, you are a dinosaur, if not worst. Because sanitizing society does not come alone - it has an army of scientists and experts, well armed with studies and statistics.
How can we truly be for the right to smoke cigarettes without sounding like an egoistical person - or like an addict? Who is against measures that'll make our cities a better place to live? If we ban cigarettes, won't we live longer? If we ban cigarettes, won't our children live better lives?
I'm against banning most things people want to ban. But cigarettes have such a devastating cost. There's just so much evidence that proves it nowadays. If there's one thing I'd ban, it would be cigarettes. But it would probably be the only consumable good I'd ban at the moment.
Cancer, but also cardivascular diseases and, of course, other health-related problems are caused by smoking. I might sound like Scrooge here, but listen, there's so much taxpayer money we're losing because of cigarette smokers, it goes beyond imagination. Think of all the things we could do with that wasted money. All the costs due to medication, visits to the doctor, operations...
And of course, heavy smokers eventually end up getting in a pretty bad physical shape, so they are not as productive as they would be at work if they were not smoking. I might be forgetting a few more examples, but I think you get the picture: smoking not only causes cancer, it is a cancer. It's a cancer we know our society has. And we know how to eradicate it. Why wait? Is freedom truly going to get a big blow if we ban cigarettes? What if we are simply trading one freedom for another? Maybe we should consider the offer. If we're not seduced by the freedom of living a better life, at least we can settle for the freedom of getting more money in our pockets.
That is, of course, if the government wants us to keep it - but that is another question. :P