New York’s ban on smoking in bars and restaurants is very agreeable in my opinion for many reasons, most especially in the perspective of utilitarian and deontological ethics. Even paralleling the law to a miner’s case in which they accept the potential harm the job might cause them, the same principles of safety and working conditions are still present in the banning of smoking in bars and restaurants, therefore rendering the example as inapplicable in this situation.
Whether or not second hand smoke is more or less lethal than the studies churn out, the basic tenet of this argument is that second hand smoke is still a health concern no matter how small it is and that the effects of it is not negligible as all studies concur. This argument will be based on the assumption that no matter the study, all researchers agree that there are negative impacts of second hand smoke to bystanders. Also, this does not mean to say that law being discussed is not a silver pill to the health hazard of inhaling second-hand smoke as a whole.
First off, let’s take care of the parallelism of accepting work hazards. In the mining industry, toxic gasses, dangers of cave-ins and other potentially fatal hazards are known to all workers and operators. In the reasoning of those who are against the new policy, employees and customers who go into these places accept the potential hazard to their health, much in the same way mine workers accept theirs. However, there is an obvious hole in this argument. Mining safety standards are one of the most stringent and important operational fundamentals of the industry. Without it, companies would be shut down. This proves that people’s health is indeed at the forefront of society’s concern. Masks, safety equipment and other paraphernalia are used by the workers to ensure that they would not get toxicity levels in their blood to dangerous levels as long as they work in the mines.
Comparing this with the logic that people in bars and restaurant accept the risks of second hand smoke is nothing but a fallacious self-serving argument by smokers who have no regard for others who are more conscious of their health. In bars and restaurants, there are no safety gears or gas masks distributed to the workers and the people who go in the restaurants to mitigate any of the health concerns that go hand in hand with smoking. In essence, the law is based on utilitarian principles that rely on the fact that the interest of all at the end of the day. While non-smokers might see this as an infringement of their rights, this is not the case. They are still allowed to smoke elsewhere but in the prohibited areas, but more importantly, they are being saved from their own self-destructive habits. This law as already stated, however, is not a silver pill to the complications that arise from cigarette smoking both for the smoker and the second-hand smoker, but the minimal effects would still be felt and appreciated by those who are health conscious and are averse to cigarette smoke.
In the light of deontological ethics, it is still evident why the smoking ban is entirely as agreeable as in the principles of utilitarian ethics. The law, first of all, has the correct motivation in trying to ensure a healthier citizenry in the state as well as protecting the interests on non-smokers. While it does intend the hinder the rights of individuals to smoke in such establishments, it does not hinder the rights of people in the absolutist sense. Rights are still accorded to individuals to do what they want, provided that they don’t do it in areas where others are unavoidably susceptible to them, such as the aforementioned establishments. Upon each individual lies the burden of self-control that is needed to make civil society run smoothly. In this case, allows them to still practice their individual rights to do what they want, while still extending a modicum of respect to others who claim their rights to a healthier environment and lifestyle that is free of cigarette smoke.
Moreover, already establishing in the first argument (in the miners’ case) that safety and well-being of individuals is one of society’s primary concerns, it is therefore each and every person’s duty to look after the interest of one another in terms of health issues. More strictly speaking, this moral duty of upholding the rights of others to live healthier and safer lives is one of the most valid arguments in the deontological perspective. Regardless of the consequence of initial boycotts to restaurants (which would soon be resolved anyway), both the duty to uphold such moral standards and the duty to follow the laws of the land are imperative in the realm of this school of thought in ethics.
In this analysis, in both perspectives of ethics, namely utility and deontology, the law falls in the realm of being ethical. Both perspectives of ethics agree that banning smoking in restaurants and bars serves a greater purpose that is beneficial to most of the parties concerned as well as having good motives for the issuance of the law. The agreement toward the ethical approval of the law is not argued only in the perspective of bias of a non-smoker such as myself, but the school of thought of ethics has proven the point in a more objective manner. Therefore, the only conclusion that can be drawn from this analysis is that the banning of smoking in bars and restaurants is both agreeable and ethical.