Wednesday 31 May 2017

Prohibitionists for human rights

This is a new one...

After completing a collaboration with multi-national tobacco giant Philip Morris International (PMI) to develop a “human rights implementation plan” for the company, the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) concluded that immediately stopping the sale and marketing of tobacco is the only way for tobacco companies to uphold basic human rights...

Following DIHR’s completion of their work, they concluded:

"Tobacco is deeply harmful to human health, and there can be no doubt that the production and marketing of tobacco is irreconcilable with the human right to health. For the tobacco industry, the [United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights] therefore require the cessation of the production and marketing of tobacco."

These hideous prohibitionists will cling to any argument to achieve their goals. Tobacco is a plant. Insofar as people have a 'right' to health, it is a right that is breached by nature and the ageing process every day. In any case, a 'right' to health is very different to an obligation to be healthy. 

As so often in the topsy-turvy world of 'public health', the truth is the very opposite of what these people claim. Individuals have ownership of their body. If they wish to smoke a plant that grows naturally in the earth, they should have the right to do so. If they want to make this easier by paying somebody else to plant it, grow it and process it, they should have the right to do that as well.

Quite obviously, the 'production and marketing of tobacco' is not 'irreconcilable with the human right to health' because it does not harm health without the active participation of the individual. Equally obviously, banning people from buying a product is a violation of their rights, even if it might improve their health. If this has to be spelt out, it is only because single-issue pressure groups have debased the currency of human rights.

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