Wednesday, 12 October 2022

The smoke-free 2030 target

More Westminster rumours. 

This time it's reckoned that health secretary Therese Coffey is shelving the unpublished 'smoke-free' plan. Some say that she doesn't even know that the government has a target of making England 'smoke-free' by 2030 because she's been too distracted trying to run the health service.

Is this true? Who knows? But there shouldn't be target for how many people smoke in 2030 because it's none of the government's business. The target was only created by Theresa May to give her some sort of legacy. It wasn't even in the last Conservative manifesto.

I've written about this for the Spectator...

A pack of cigarettes costs £13, you can’t smoke them anywhere except outdoors and in private dwellings, they haven’t been advertised for 20 years, they are hidden behind shutters in shops and have been in beige packaging with gruesome photographs since 2017. 

Everyone has got the message that smoking is bad for you and the government would rather you didn’t do it. Having exhausted every sensible idea to deter people from smoking – and several half-mad ones – we have surely reached the point at which the individual’s right to choose is respected. My body, my choice, as they say.

What is the argument for turning the screw on this beleaguered minority yet again? In a paternalistic editorial, the Times acknowledges there is ‘a balance to strike between individual freedom and public health’ but that ‘smoking reduction has long moved beyond this binary tension’ because there is ‘common consent that reducing smoking is the right thing to do’. In other words, the freedom of individuals no long matters once the rest of society disapproves of them. This is what John Stuart Mill meant when he talked about the tyranny of the majority. If your mind is clouded by a dislike of tobacco smoke, try substituting  ’free speech’ or ‘religious freedom’ to see what an ugly and dangerous sentiment this is.


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