The most important thing to bear in mind is that public health has no regard for individual choice. As a movement which measures its success largely in averaged outcomes and national statistics, its focus is not on minimising harm to third parties or helping individuals to make informed choices – although it will employ those arguments – but on controlling people to force its desired outcomes.
Boris’ quaint notion that there is no justification in preventing him lying on the grass with a cigar because he was harming nobody but himself will cut no ice with the public health movement. It’s bad for his health, so it should be stopped. Many, probably most, public health activists make no secret of their intention to prohibit tobacco.
But their ambitions are not limited to tobacco. Some months ago there was an outbreak of press hysterics about sugar, the ‘new nicotine’. This should have surprised nobody. There was always going to be a ‘new nicotine’, just as when sugar taxes have tripled the price of a Yorkie bar and we’re drinking cola from olive-green ‘plain cans’ with pictures of clogged arteries on them there would be a ‘new sugar’.
For years it has suited both sides of the public health debate to pick on cigarettes. Lovers of booze, food, or idleness could pretend that there was some particular wickedness in tobacco that warranted making a special case of it, whilst public health activists could establish useful precedents to wield against fresh targets when the time came.
Come that time has.
Do read the rest.