01 January 2008

Is Smoking Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose?

Kicking off 2008 with a soupcon of sarcasm...

The last time I opined on this topic our blogosphere colleague Jackie D. blew a gasket here and there. So I hope she's unarmed and sober when she reads about the continuing march to ban smoking freedom here and abroad.

The latest:

Illinois to ban freedom in public places.
Germany gets on the anti-freedom bandwagon of tyranny.
Even France (!) has slipped past the event horizon and into the black hole with a spaceship full of liberty.

Let's face it: everybody is restricting smoking. Universities, cities, states, and countries. You know it's serious when Europe gets on the train (England, Ireland, Spain, & Italy also have bans). Is this a worldwide trend against personal liberty?

No, it's part of the worldwide trend in recognizing scientific evidence, in this case public health. Smoking itself is not the target of the bans. If it was, they would just classify tobacco as a drug and make it illegal. The goal is to reduce the harmful health effects on others. That's why the bans are specific to public places. No one is prevented from lighting up; they are only prevented from affecting others. In this sense, the bans are analogous to noise ordinances: we are not prevented from listening to music, just from playing it loud enough to bother neighbors (something I wish my neighbor understood. Interestingly, she is a smoker).

Another thought: the "smoker's rights" coalition is considered a libertarian philosophy. I don't think it is. True libertarianism says individuals should be free to do whatever they want as long as it doesn't infringe on the liberty of others. Smoking harms non-smokers and therefore crosses that line. So what the "smoker's rights" coalition really believes in is the acceptability of harming others. The word for that is not "libertarian."


Anonymous said...

Could you explain the "unarmed and sober" remark?

Why do you think other individuals have ownership of your health, and you ownership of theirs?

You are certainly free to ban smoking...on your own private property. Smoking bans, however, deny property rights and reappropriate private property as "public" space. This is not the case.

For example, you tried to draw an analogy previously between smoking sections in restaurants and peeing sections in swimming pools. When I explained to you that the analogy was nonsensical, as it is quite legal (as it should be) for you to have a peeing section in your home swimming pool, you failed to acknowledge your faulty logic. I don't know why you are bothering to make the same flawed arguments again, but perhaps blogging anonymously leaves you free from fear of embarrassment.

Anonymous said...

My apologies: I re-read the previous idiotic analogy between peeing sections in swimming pools and smoking sections in restaurants and see that it was a moron named David Emery who was leaving those comments. As far as I know, you are not David Emery, and I am sorry to have associated you with such intellectually bankrupt arguments.

Anonymous said...

I'm angry that I'm not allowed to fire my shotgun randomly in public places. Damn those fools who hold me responsible for their own health!

WestEnder said...

Wow... looks like we can bring the blown gasket tally to three.

But I'm sure everyone sympathizes; it must be hard being an island of brilliance in a vast ocean of nonsensical, idiotic morons like physicians, scientists, nurses, epidemiologists, economists, public officials, and even the occasional blogger making intellectually bankrupt arguments all over the industrialized world.

Wes said...

An honest question: Which are more important - civil rights or property rights?

(Yes, I know there are multiple possibilities and combinations here.)


Denae said...

I think the ban is a bit of a conspiracy by pub and bar owners. Seems like EVERYONE in London smokes so now people just stand outside with their pints under the heat lamps. This frees up more room at the bar for the other punters who want to buy more alcohol. Then, everyone kind of just rotates and more customers can be served more quickly.

It was eerie in France and Italy this year with no smoking but really people just move outside so bars, pubs now need to have nice outdoor spaces. Could be someday soon that smoking outside on public property will also be banned but only in the US I'm sure.

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