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In Helling v. McKinney, the Supreme Court held that compelled exposure to environmental tobacco smoke ("ETS") may constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Section I of this article explores the medical evidence linking ETS to lung cancer, heart disease and certain other health risks in nonsmokers. Section II examines the history of the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, particularly as it relates to dangerous or unhealthy prison conditions. Section III analyzes the decision in Helling v. McKinney. Section IV questions whether a judicial ban on smoking would itself constitute cruel and unusual punishment to smokers. Finally, Section V illustrates that the Supreme Court's decision in Helling is consistent with Eighth Amendment history and precedent.



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