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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

(non) Smoking!

Sometimes its just a beautiful sunny day and you find yourself with nothing worth saying.

Maybe on those occasions I really shouldn't bother saying anything at all, but I can't help myself ;-)

Excellent news yesterday, the House of Commons voted to implement a no smoking ban in all public places. Hurrah.

Already I saw on the news that smokers are protesting that this violates their civil liberties. Apologies but that is bull shit. They can smoke in their own homes and out in the street, just not in enclosed places open to the public. In addition what right did they have to impose their second-hand smoke on people who work in bars, pubs and clubs? On an unrelated topic McQ at QandO summarises this point rather neatly:
"Freedom does not spring from having or doing only what they 'need", but being able to do what they want as long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others when they do so."

Also the complaints about loss of trade are likely to turn out to be hollow. The ban has not killed off the pub trade in Ireland, nor in New York and other cities in America. I lived in Boulder Colorado for two years. It has a non-smoking policy and I can tell you that its bars and pubs were thriving! Our local was almost impossible to get a table at on a Friday night. And it was fantastic; I could go out, get completely plastered and come home and not stink like a dirty ash tray. It was wonderful and I look forward to the same experience in the UK come the summer of 2007.

It might also mean that the general population gets healthier if it encourages people to smoke less (certainly less second hand smoke problems). If that is so it might just save the NHS some money - the old adage of smokers supporting the health service by paying the tax on their cigarettes is worn out. It is just not accurate in this day and age where smokers who develop severe illnesses are treated long past the time they might once have died.

So hurrah for free votes in Parliament, why can't more be free?


Anonymous said...

When the government tells you that you cannot smoke on your property, or in your own home, will you have the same ambivalence to this, just because you are not a smoker ?


Kav said...

No, and I don't see that happening over here. There is not the policitical support for it in parliament, nor do I ever see there being.

The issue over the recent vote was an issue of supporting people's rights. When I go to a public place, be it a bar or a place of work, I have the right not to have to breath potentially harmful smoke. Why does a smoker's right to smoke trump my right not to breath in said smoke. I also support people's rights to smoke if they wish. I know it is potentially lethal but it is their decision and that right still remains. They can still smoke outside amongst non-smokers and in the privacy of their own home. There are lots of things that are limited that are harmless to others. Masturbation, to take one comedic example. You can masturbate in private but not in public, and I think there are few amongst us who would argue that is a bad thing. But why, when it does not actually hurt anyone else?

See that is the difference between smoking and many other things. When you smoke you don't just affect yourself, you affect everyone around you, whether just through simple discomfort or worse. Again why should the rights of the smoker trump my rights as the non-smoker?

Anonymous said...

At what point in time did your "rights" as an individual consumer surpass the rights of the property owner to run and operate their own business in the manner of their choosing ?


Kav said...

Now that is the strongest argument and not one that is easily countered. I am not capable of coming up with an effective rebuttal that would satisfy you.

What I would say is that all business run within limits imposed by government. You may think that is a bad thing but I think that some of them are good things. To serve alcohol a bar must be licensed. Why? Because alcohol is a restricted substance for right to wrong. So straight away the owner cannot run his/her business in a manner entirely of his/her choosing. Of course precedent does not mean that you should do something one particular way.

My question, I guess, is where do you draw the line? Since it is the property of the owner does that mean that anything should go? Should there be limits to what is done in there? What limits should there be on the limits?