1. Smoking in Nursing Homes
A major government report on passive smoking has recommended that all nursing homes
introduce policies on smoking by staff and residents that reflect the same principles of
safeguarding the health and amenity of non‐smokers that the report recommends should apply
in the general community. You work in a nursing home where smoking by some semi‐ambulant
elderly patients has traditionally been allowed in common indoor lounge areas. There are 20
elderly residents who spend hours in this area each day. Eight of them smoke heavily. Of those
who do not, three regularly object to the smoking. One staff member argues that the nursing
home serves as a final home for these patients; that the state has no right to intrude into private
homes; that any health effects from passive smoking are unlikely to significantly alter the health
"outcomes" for the residents anyway; and that smoking represents one of the few remaining
pleasures for these people.
Proponent position: that all staff and residents must not smoke inside the nursing home.
Opponent position: that residents who choose to smoke should be allowed to do so inside the
Suggested reading to start with:
Goodin RE. The ethics of smoking. Ethics 1989;99:574‐624.
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