The Atlanta City Council is currently considering a ban on cigarette smoking in all public parks within the city. The Council heard public comments on the matter today.
About 19.3% of adults in the U.S. smoke cigarettes according to the CDC. Less educated people are much more likely to smoke, with 45.2% of adults with a GED diploma smoking, compared to only 9.9% of adults with an undergraduate college degree. Additionally, 28.9% of adults living under the poverty level smoke, compared to 18.3% of those above the poverty level.
Surprisingly, one study found that if everyone was a non-smoker, total healthcare costs would be higher. The Health Care Costs of Smoking, which was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that health care costs would be 7% greater than they are now if there were no smokers in the U.S. This is primarily due to longer life expectancies, which outweigh reduced cost of care for smoking related diseases.
Despite this, many municipalities have been aggressively pushing anti-smoking policies designed to curb cigarette use. New York City has made smoking illegal in most of its public areas. Several States, including Georgia, have made it illegal to smoke indoors, regardless of the preferences of the business owners. In Georgia, any enclosed area accessible to the general public is not allowed to permit smoking, unless they bar people under the age of 18 from entrance.
CDC Smoking & Tobacco Use: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/adult_data/cig_smoking/
The New England Journal of Medicine The Health Care Costs of Smoking: http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM199710093371506
Georgia Smokefree Air Act 2005: http://www.georgialibraries.org/lib/library_laws/SmokeFreeAirAct.pdf
Atlanta City Council Public Park Smoking Ordinance: http://citycouncil.atlantaga.gov/2012/images/proposed/12O0966.pdf