Ban on Smoking in Bars and Restaurant.

The banning of smoking in bars and restaurants in New York was necessary especially if you look at it from the normative ethics point of view. Normative ethics is a theory that is concerned on how we live. It is very distinct from metaethics and applied ethics. The great things to note in normative ethics are the person or entity who is involved in perpetuating the act. The second thing is the act itself which will affect the person doing it. The third principle governing normative ethics is the consequences that arise from the combination of the first two elements of this ethics (Shelly, 1998).

Smoking is a luxury activity which is not practiced by many but a few individuals who have got extra money to spare but not necessarily money wastage. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with it because it can not be viewed from a moral point of view since it is a matter of choice on individual. It becomes a moral issue when its practice starts on infringing the rights of other people and its outcome is harming other people as well as the perpetrator. There are theories that govern normative ethics which must have been taken into account at the time the ban was enforced (Frederic, 2006). Among the key things considered here were the health and safety of the workers, the environment of those bars and restaurants which in most cases are closed and there is no enough air in circulation.

In any kind of profession, it must be noted that there are risks associated with it but a limit must be imposed as to what constitutes accepted and reasonable risks. Some may argue that before one gets a job and signs the contract, he should be aware of the risks that are associated with the job. What happens when those agreements are violated and the welfare and the health of the employees is put at risk at the expense of someone who is having fun? This is a deontological consideration since it is dealing with the morality of the act that is done by a few people which is affecting the environment that is supposed to be clean for all to breathe fresh air. This makes smoking another moral issue when the public is concerned and their safety. Someone’s right can only be considered so if it is not interfering with other people’s rights and liberties which when that is applied to smoking, it then becomes an ethical issue (Frederic, 2006).

Professionalism is an ethical term in itself which shows that there must be some rules that should be adhered to in order to foster good working conditions and environment which will ensure good relations among colleagues. In most professions, smoking is outlawed especially in public offices and violation of the statue can lead to a hefty fine. This is done so as to protect the public against exploitation by a few who only mind about their interests. For professionalism to be viable, virtue ethics come into play to define what is considered right and what is not accepted within the public domain. Virtue ethics is an arm of normative ethics that is concerned with some aspects of our actions and what is generally acceptable to many (Shelly, 1998). Smoking is only done by a very small number compared to a vast majority of the population that harbors the practice. Like in this case, banning of smoking might seem a bad idea and an ill advised venture but according to virtue ethics, its main concern is doing whatever it can (whether perceived bad or good) to institute some desirable consequences.

A utilitarian consideration was also done in imposing the ban. This was mainly concerned with the outcome or consequences of smoking. The corollary of concern here is not the smoker but the environment and people around. There is a concept that is advanced about secondary smoking whereby if you are smoking in a crowded or poorly ventilated place, people who are around you will be affected by the smoke the cigarette produces and the effects on them will be hazardous to them as it is to you who is smoking. We all know about the dangers associated with smoking which include causing lung cancer and ill health. Frankly speaking, it will be ethically wrong for someone to cause other people harm and therefore the law must step in to ensure the safety of the public (Frederic, 2006). The consequence of smoking outweighs other perceived advantages to the government in terms of the tax those tobacco companies are paying and also the personal gains to the individual smoker. Looking at the environment side, there are no any positive gains except pollution of the air and perforation of the O-zone layer.


I completely agree with the ban on smoking in bars and restaurants in New York since it is in accordance with normative ethics which is governed by three theories namely deontology theory, virtue ethics theory and utilitarian theory or what is commonly referred to as consequentialism. This was not meant as a punitive measure but a way to protect the environment and the health of non smokers and workers in those environments.




Frederic, G. (2006). Social work values and ethics. New York: Columbia University Press.

Shelly, K. (1998). Normative ethics. New York: Westview Press.

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