Thursday, 26 February 2015

Outdoor smoking bans (again)

That revolting individual, Lord Darzi, is calling for a ban on smoking outdoors again. In the British Medical Journal, Darzi and Simon Chapman are playing a game of good cop/bad cop, with the latter assuming the role of a half-decent human being by opposing the policy.

...some have invoked the virtues of shielding children from the sight of smoking as worthy evidence in this debate. They may concede that smoking in wide open spaces such as parks and beaches poses a near homeopathic level of risk to others, but they point to an indirect negative effect from the mere sight of smoking. This line of reasoning is pernicious and is redolent of totalitarian regimes in their penchants for repressing various liberties, communication, and cultural expression not sanctioned by the state. North Korea’s residents are routinely subjected to such fiats, but many of us would recoil at the use of such reasoning elsewhere.

Totalitarian is the word. The idea that individuals should pretend to be something they are not in order to fulfill the state's vision of a virtuous country is deeply sinister. That they should do on pain of arrest is frankly fascistic.

I have nothing to add to what I said about this last year so, if you're interested, read that.

It hardly needs to be said that smokers, like nonsmokers, have never volunteered to be role models for other people's children. The claim that adult activity should be criminalised if it can be witnessed by minors does not have to be taken to its logical extreme for it to be exposed as absurd and totalitarian. It is plainly not a serious argument. And yet, if I did feel the need to act as a role model to children, I would, first and foremost, impress upon them the importance of ignoring and despising unjust laws. I would hope to teach them that there is, in any society, a minority of bigots who resent liberal values and who will do whatever they can to impose their own lifestyles upon them. If flouting a draconian law will help a child realise that the state is not its friend, then I will cheerfully light a cigarette in any street or park.

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