Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A fine line

Much energy is being spent arguing that a smoking ban is illiberal. The basis of opposition being that it is an unwarranted restraint on personal behaviour. If smoking only harmed the smoker, this would be true. The problem is that secondary smoking turns out to be extremely dangerous. So smokers harm themselves, which is acceptable, but they also seriously harm other people, which is not.

The only vague problem that I have with a ban on public smoking is that perhaps private smoking clubs could be permitted- but then obviously the staff would have to be smokers too, and anyway how do you police this without undermining the whole basis of the law? Nevertheless, perhaps a licensing regime, much like that for alcohol itself, might have been adopted.

I am against the state interfering in most aspects of personal behaviour: there is a fine line between protecting citizens and nannying them. This law is dangerously close to that line, but to be honest, over many years, I have got more and more fed up with the thoughtless and nasty behaviour of smokers.

As a barman, when I was a student, I had to clean the garden behind the bar. Despite plenty of ash trays I never failed to pick up less than 150 cigarette butts from the grass each day. A disgusting job, especially after rain. After that, I could not feel anything but supportive of those non-smokers who work in bars and who do not want to be exposed to secondary smoke and all the other nastiness of tobacco.


Jock Coats said...

>> ...over many years, I have got more and more fed up with the thoughtless and nasty behaviour of smokers.

Having been for many years a smoker of exemplary courtesy and consideration for others, I guess people will now moan at me for breathing smoke in their general direction near the front doors of their favourite establishments.

For I shall not be compounding the ill-health the tobacco may risk me having with pneumonia when the only shelter is under the front porch.

Jon C said...

Yes Jock, I for one will be moaning at you for blowing smoke in my direction.

If I walked around air-stabbing knives I'd be arrested or removed from the pub, even if I didn't hit anyone. That's because putting other people at risk for your own fun is not acceptable.

Liberalism is about freedom of the individual. But when your actions impose on my freedom, MINE take precedence.

Jock Coats said...

Not what I said.