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Editorials |

The Civil Liberty of Smoking CigarettesCivil Liberty of Smoking Cigarettes

Laura E. Crotty Alexander, MD; Atul Malhotra, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

From the Pulmonary and Critical Care Section (Dr Crotty Alexander), VA San Diego Healthcare System; and the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine (Drs Crotty Alexander and Malhotra), University of California San Diego.

CORRESPONDENCE TO: Laura E. Crotty Alexander, MD, VA San Diego Healthcare System and University of California San Diego, 3350 La Jolla Village Dr, MC 111J, La Jolla, CA 92161; e-mail: lcrotty@ucsd.edu


FINANCIAL/NONFINANCIAL DISCLOSURES: The authors have reported to CHEST that no potential conflicts of interest exist with any companies/organizations whose products or services may be discussed in this article.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2015;148(1):6-8. doi:10.1378/chest.15-0340
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Extract

Some political figures have made a point recently about the importance of civil liberties. These individuals point to the importance of freedom and discourage government interference in personal matters. Despite the known health risks, 20% of the US population smokes conventional tobacco cigarettes.1 Many smokers argue that they enjoy the habit and do not believe that others should have the right to regulate their behavior. Smokers represent a financial burden on the health-care system, but pay considerable consumption tax during their lifetime and, thus, their economic impact could be debated. The argument changed from one of personal freedom to include issues of public health when the impact of secondhand smoke (SHS) was recognized. No longer were smokers simply affecting themselves, but also their children, spouses, and other innocent bystanders. Indeed, roughly 40% of children worldwide are regularly exposed to SHS, and 600,000 people are predicted to die annually from SHS.2,3 Some data also suggest that smoke exposure may have transgenerational consequences such that an individual’s adult health may be affected by prior exposures experienced by one’s mother or grandmother.4

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