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The rationale for smoking bans posits that smoking is optional, whereas breathing is not. Therefore, proponents say, smoking bans exist to protect breathing people from the effects of second-hand smoke, which include an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, emphysema, and other diseases. Laws implementing bans on indoor smoking have been introduced by many countries in various forms over the years, with some legislators citing scientific evidence that shows tobacco smoking is harmful to the smokers themselves and to those inhaling second-hand smoke.
In addition, such laws may reduce health care costs, improve work productivity, and lower the overall cost of labour in the community thus protected, making that workforce more attractive for employers. In the US state of Indiana, the economic development agency included in its 2006 plan for acceleration of economic growth encouragement for cities and towns to adopt local smoking bans as a means of promoting job growth in communities.
Additional rationales for smoking restrictions include reduced risk of fire in areas with explosive hazards; cleanliness in places where food, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, or precision instruments and machinery are produced; decreased legal liability; potentially reduced energy use via decreased ventilation needs; reduced quantities of litter; healthier environments; and giving smokers incentive to quit.
The World Health Organization considers smoking bans to have an influence to reduce demand for tobacco by creating an environment where smoking becomes increasingly more difficult and to help shift social norms away from the acceptance of smoking in everyday life. Along with tax measures, cessation measures, and education, smoking bans are viewed by public health experts as an important element in reducing smoking rates and promoting positive health outcomes. When effectively implemented they are seen as an important element of policy to support behaviour change in favour of a healthy lifestyle.