Thursday 18 April 2024

Libertarian prohibitionists - you've heard it all now

I wasn't going to write about the tobacco ban again for a while, but the ludicrous spectacle of prohibitionists purporting to be champions of liberty has set me off. 

Their logic is that smoking is so addictive that it restricts freedom. They claim that smokers do not actually want to smoke, but were foolish enough to get hooked in childhood and are now unable to quit. And so, despite the evidence of your eyes and ears, it is the people who keep banning things who are standing up for freedom while libertarians support enslavement. 

This was the message of a slightly Orwellian editorial in The Times yesterday which explicitly described smoking as “enslavement” and described the right to smoke as “a fake freedom”. It was the message of Deborah Arnott, the CEO of the Department of Health’s sockpuppet pressure group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), who said: “Smoking is not a free choice. It is an addiction.” And it was the message of public health minister Andrea Leadsom who told the House of Commons that “this is not about freedom to choose; it is about freedom from addiction.” The words ‘addiction’ and ‘addicted’ were mentioned 83 times in that parliamentary debate.

I have already conceded that giving up nicotine is more difficult than giving up cupcakes (although Chris van Tulleken may disagree). But the rhetoric around addiction this week has reached a different level. We have been told that smoking is not  only a difficult habit for some people to break, but is almost impossible, so much so that smokers “face a lifetime of addiction”, as Bob Blackman MP put it, and that while smokers might say that they want to purchase tobacco, they actually do not.

It is difficult to reconcile this with figures from the Office for National Statistics which show that 69 per cent of all the people in England who have ever smoked are now non-smokers. Andrea Leadsom is one of them. Despite claiming in her speech that people who take up smoking can look forward to “a life of addiction to nicotine”, she also mentioned that she gave up a 40-a-day habit when she was 21. Deborah Arnott is also an ex-smoker. She only gave up after she got the job at ASH. I suppose it wouldn’t have been a good look.

Read the rest at The Critic.
Regarding that Orwellian Times editorial. Let's remember what they say about banning tobacco sales completely for when they inevitably support total prohibition in a few years' time. 
And let's give a shout out to Peter Hitchens who doesn't think nicotine (or anything else) is addictive, but wants to ban smoking anyway because he doesn't like it and he thinks he knows best. At least he's honest about it.


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