Opinion: Smoking and Liberty

Stephen Tall, starting a debate last week on the Lib Dems’ position in the polls, unintentionally started a quite different debate regarding the specific issue of smoking and liberty.

Laying my cards on the table from the start; I am a smoker and have been for over a year although I am in the throes of trying to cut back. Despite this, when it was introduced I just about came out in favour of the ban because I think there was enough evidence that the public health concerns are genuine, and, ultimately, I was prepared to trade a little of my individual liberty in this instance. You can debate the scientific evidence for and against this point ad infinitum, but there is also the issue that smoking smells pretty terrible etc, etc.

In these circumstances I found it possible to support the restriction on my liberty because I was imposing on others. Could you possibly extend that logic to support a ban in all public places? Yes, I guess you possibly could, but this would be a point where a line is crossed because the effects of second-hand smoking were exacerbated by being in a confined space. Ultimately smokers are usually aware of the risks and it is their decision whether to take that risk or not. It is a question of whether people have the right to control and govern what they do with their own bodies. Smoking in a confined space took that right away from other people, but smoking in an open space where air can circulate does not.

The Guardian reported recently that the latest smoking figures show nine million people still smoke – which is a minority but nonetheless a sizeable one. Disproportionately it is people on lower incomes who smoke the most (although income is not a sole determinant):

According to Professor Martin Jarvis, a psychologist at University College London and a leading specialist in the field of smoking and health inequality, this is not a question solely of income: every main indicator of a lower socio-economic status is likely, independent of each of the others, to predict a higher rate of smoking. If your educational level is below the average, you are more likely to smoke. If you live in rented or overcrowded accommodation, you are more likely to smoke. Ditto if you do not have access to a car, are unemployed, or on state income benefit.”

So, people who think higher taxation is the answer should consider this; that you are already hitting people hard who are at the bottom of the pile. This also shows that there are numerous reasons people start smoking. It is wrong to think people just do it as they think it’s ‘cool’; it is just as likely to be a coping mechanism with pressure generated by external circumstances. At the very least it should lead to an end to the intolerance that sometimes seems to exist for smokers. We are people, too, you know, and if you drink or ingest anything to induce a pleasurable response then you are in fact not an awful lot different to smokers.

Jarvis goes onto say smoking

might be considered a form of self-medication: nicotine (and it is pretty much accepted that nicotine is why people smoke) is “doing something for you that you value. Many smokers think it helps them deal with stress, reduce anxiety. Of course, there’s very little evidence that it actually does that.” Mainly, it seems, all smoking a cigarette does is relieve the (temporary) withdrawal symptoms you get from not smoking a cigarette.”

Despite this, those on lower incomes are more likely to want ‘value-for-money’ so will inhale more nicotine. Therefore, people will always make sure they can afford to do it and from anecdotal experience I can say with total conviction that this is correct: during a rather rough financial patch last month I smoked significantly more than I do now my situation is more stable. Taxing people out of smoking won’t work, and I am going to be radical and say that it is time to end the annual tax hikes that smokers have to endure. It is time to look at changing people’s material circumstances in a way which may well change their need for this form of ‘self-medication’ as part of any serious anti-smoking strategy.

Measures such as the incoming pictures of mangled up throat and lungs will equally have little effect. In fact, in the Guardian article those interviewed at the end seemed to demonstrate that the measures may in some way harden people’s resolve as they feel rather crushed by government policy. What has proved to be successful is where serious money has been invested in providing support services through the NHS; in other words, more carrot and less stick. Other possibilities include the exploration and promotion of devices like electronic cigarettes which deliver a nicotine hit without the harmful chemicals and therefore side-effects of conventional cigarettes.

It is time for a serious rethink of attitudes to this question; this may be an unpopular view with the non-smoking majority but the phrase ‘tyranny of the majority’ is becoming increasingly relevant in this case.

* Darrell Goodliffe blogs at Moments of Clarity.

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95 Comments

  • Fact: tobacco has been around for thousands of years and in common use for 500 without evidence of the slightest harm. Fact: fhe smell of burning tobacco is one of the most delightful on the planet. You’ve been listening to paid liars. If you want to get a whole lot smarter
    go to FORCES INTERNATIONAL. You still won’t have any political clout, but you won’t continue to make a fool of yourself.

  • Mark Senior 20th Oct '08 - 9:35pm

    A sad truth is that the freedom to go into a smoke free pub has in many cases led to no freedom at all as so many pubs have just closed completely . Many people are now buying cans of beer from the supermarket and watching the big footie match with their mates at home where they can smoke if they wish instead of down the pub where they can’t and the beer is more expensive .
    As a Liberal there should be freedom of choice some pubs for smokers and others for non smokers with the market deciding on the proportion of each .

  • Rhetoric innes 20th Oct '08 - 10:37pm

    There have been recent studies that show that smoking does increase (or make individuals more likely) to suffer from depression.
    While 30% or so of UK adults smoke severe depression sufferers have double this level of smoking.
    The lethargic effects of smoking bring more inactivity and hence more bodily and mental problems.

  • Mark Littlewood 21st Oct '08 - 12:07am

    The smoking ban in so-called public places (actually mainly private places which choose to open to members of the public) is part of a government strategy to “denormalise” smoking tobacco.

    It has many elements which are intrinsically illiberal but I am equally annoyed by the way smokers are singled out for special treatment.

    There may or may not be potential health risks from passive smoking. If there are, I’m not persuaded they are very great. I’m certainly not persuaded that they are as great as the risks of “passive drinking” (alcohol being a contributory factor in a lot of violent crime) or “passive driving of a motor vehicle” (with about 3,000 deaths a year on the roads – let alone the numebr of injuries).

    A clinching argument for the smoking ban was the potential health risks for bar and restaurant employees. But if one takes the view that passive smoking is an unacceptable health and safety risk, there are a huge number of other professions that become logically susceptible to similar interference.

    For example, being a pit crew member or a steward for Formula One motor racing (several injuries and at least one death in the last few years) is enormously riskier.

    Quite apart from the libertarian argument against the smoking ban, I find it totally nonsensical that we allow young men and women to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, but a barman can’t serve me a drink if I’m puffing on a Marlboro because it’s TOO DANGEROUS!

  • Clegg's Candid Friend 21st Oct '08 - 12:24am

    “being a pit crew member or a steward for Formula One motor racing (several injuries and at least one death in the last few years) is enormously riskier.”

    What is your evidence that the casualties from passive smoking are “enormously” less than one death in “the last few years”?

  • Mark Littlewood 21st Oct '08 - 12:29am

    Well, it’s one death and a few serious injuries from recollection. I don’t claim to be able to quote the stats chapter and verse – I’m not sure they’re even tabulated. But it’s surely hard to believe though that being a barman in a pub allowing smoking is more dangerous.

    Even if you think it is, consider coal-mining, dangerous construction projects, movies that require stuntmen etc.

    I think the burden of evidence is on those that want to initiate bans, not on those who don’t.

  • Rhetoric innes;

    “Recent studies show…” I have read some BS in my day, but you get the prize. Tobacco is the best antidepressant known to man, which is the main reason it’s enjoyed by 1.5
    billion worldwide. And it’s the only reason Big Pharma wants to outlaw it and replace it with prescription drugs at ten prices.

    It occurs to me that you could be an antitobacco operative
    what with your “studies” claptrap. If so, you’d as well forget
    this one–no depression sufferer is gonna quit.

  • Has no-one commented on Darrell’s opening remarks: “I’m a smoker and have been for over a year”…!
    Is this guy a freaking nutter? Do we need to hear from someone so STUPID that he actually starts smoking!

    Spaghetti Monster save us!

  • The best argument against the smoking ban is probably the awful collections of nicotine addicts puffing away outside doorways and spoiling pub gardens.

    Once again the absurdity of the ‘libertarian’ argument shine through as
    “Mainly, it seems, all smoking a cigarette does is relieve the (temporary) withdrawal symptoms you get from not smoking a cigarette.”

    It is certainly true that for some people the smell of burning tobacco is one of the most delightful on the planet. For others, the opposite is equality true.

    >Nobody is denying that tobacco is injurious to health.

    Oh but they have and they still do, and even those accepting some harm might argue for other benefits – the illusion of reduced stress, avoiding weight gain, cheering the rest of the office up by popping out for the 5th time that morning for a fag break.

    >The question is whether that is justification for prohibition.

    It’s regulation, rather than prohibition that we have at the moment. Personnally, I think the line has been drawn in the wrong place and I would support the lifting of the smoking ban.

  • Grammar Police 21st Oct '08 - 8:08am

    I just wanted to come back to Tom P on this:

    “Again, employees are not forced to work in smokey environs; they do not have to take the job. They take it knowing the risks of second hand smoke, much as road-workers know that they will inhale a lot of car exhaust, bicycle couriers run the risk of being knocked off their bikes and soldiers risk being shot. It is a calculated risk that one takes when one accepts the work.”

    I don’t agree that the risk of passive smoking in a pub is *quite* the same – soldiers fight in wars, road sweepers sweep busy roads; and couriers weave in and out of traffic – the risks are inherent in the work they’re doing (without the risk there would be no work).

    People who work in pubs and restaurants risk slipping over, dealing with drunken customers, spilling hot food, lifting heavy barrels – they are risks inherent in the job.

    All our health and safety law is around preventing unnecessary risks and reducing necessary ones.

    Time to dust of my sharp knife-juggling example . . ?

  • Mark Littlewood 21st Oct '08 - 8:33am

    Grammar Police – defining what constitutes so-called “unnecessary” risk is the problem here though.

    I suppose if we put a two-pint limit on the amount of beer people can drink every night would lower the risks of fights breaking out in pubs and bar staff being subjected to abusive and threatening behaviour.

    The problem is that – to some degree – passive smoking is a “necessary” risk. If you ban it, more people drink and smoke at home and jobs disappear. Hard to measure how much, but clearly some bar jobs have been lost due to the smoking ban. So some bar staff are simply no longer able to take an alleged risk that they may have been willing to take. Presumably, it’s not much of a risk at all for bar staff who choose to smoke.

    I still don’t see the argument that the free market isn’t both a liberal and sensible solution – on both the demand and supply side here.

  • “There is no popular campaign I am aware of to repeal the bans, and no sign that any serious political party plans to do so.”

    Are you saying the LPUK aren’t a serious party?

    What about all those people from the Freedom Zone at the Tory conference who want to repeal the smoking ban? Their policies would all be heralded with wild acclaim by the public, I’m sure…

    http://www.tfa.net/the_freedom_association/thefreedomzone.html (sponsored by FOREST, no less).

    http://www.lpuk.org

    You’ll rue the day you mocked us.

  • Pubs, clubs and restaurants are NOT public places, they are private establishments. It is astounding (and quite telling) to watch the extent to which so many Lib Dems will twist and warp their definition of “liberal” in an attempt to justify their support for such an inherently illiberal policy as the smoking ban.

    It seems that liberal principles only count for anything when the activity under attack is one that Lib Dems happen to approve of.

    Principles shminsciples.

  • There is indeed an issue of liberty here. And that is the liberty of innocent people to go about their lawful business in public places without being forced the breathe other peoples’ vile, poisonous fag effluent. Smoking should be banned in ALL public places, open or enclosed, and also in private in the presence of children and domestic animals.

    Beware those who try to present faggites’ “rights” as a civil liberties issue. All are stooges of the tobacco industry.

  • Darrell wrote:

    “I will merely say smoking is lawful business….”

    But it is not lawful business under all circumstances, is it? Any more than opening one’s bowels is?

  • Mouse wrote:

    “The best argument against the smoking ban is probably the awful collections of nicotine addicts puffing away outside doorways and spoiling pub gardens.”

    No, this is the best argument for banning smoking in ALL public places. No more need to cross the street every few minutes, or hold one’s breath while running up stairwells.

    I’d turn the hose on them (well, figuratively speaking).

    For those faggites (like the late Auberon Waugh) who actually WANT to get lung cancer, all I can say is Beachy Head is quicker and cheaper.

  • What about my rights as a non-smoker? What about my right to go to any restaurant or pub and enjoy a meal or a pint without choking on tobacco fumes or coming home smelling like someone had rubbed the contents of an ashtray in my hair? This is one – possibly the only – example where the views of the majority are actually more liberal than the minority.

    Just to drag the debate on a bit, what really sickens me much more than the smokers outside pubs and restaurants is the sight of patients outside hospitals, drip in one hand and fag in the other. Why should we be wasting money on treatment if they are not doing the most obvious thing to help relieve the problem?

  • Darrell wrote:

    “What amazes me is the bile you pour forth would never accepted against people who drink…”

    The two are not comparable.

    Drinking in public places need not cause harm to innocent third parties. OK, if some clown downs a whole bottle of Southern Comfort in one go he might keel over and fall on top of someone, or he could vomit over the pavement. But that is an extreme example. It is quite possible for public drinking to be discreet and unobtrusive.

    Public smoking, by contrast, causes inevitable harm to anyone who happens to be in the public place in question when the faggite decides to indulge his habit. The miasma of filth he belches out is indiscriminate in the harm it causes.

  • Mark Littlewood 21st Oct '08 - 12:42pm

    I hope Sesenco is just on a wind-up. It would be hard to imagine a liberal actually holding such extreme views.

    He does a good job of characterising the extremist anti-tobacco position though. And shows how concerns for public health can often be a thin cover for an essentially aesthetic dislike of certain lifestyles.

    Comments such as “queers make me sick” or allegations about how bad Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi food shops smell fit the same sort of model.

    His suggestion that all libertarians are effectively in the employ of the tobacco industry really tickled me.

    It again shows that when people’s dislike for a particular lifestyle, choice or position becomes so maniacal, they even become blinded to the possibility that any stance other than their own can held in good faith.

    On the stooge point, the main anti-smoking lobbying group (ASH) is enormously reliant on donations from major pharmaceutical firms, who obviously make a fortune from nicotine replacement therapy and would surely like to make more. That’s just a matter of fact. It doesn’t mean that all those who support the smoking ban are agents of Pfizer though.

  • Mark Littlewood:

    Are you angling for business from the tobacco industry, by any chance?

  • Mark Litlewood wrote:

    “His suggestion that all libertarians are effectively in the employ of the tobacco industry really tickled me.”

    I have never said any such thing, as you well know, Mark Littlewood.

    Your tactic is transparent. Characterise anyone opposed to smoking and the tobacco industry as an intolerant extremist.

    I would respectfully invite you to withdraw your disgraceful insinuation that I am a racist, because that is demafatory – something which, as a PR man, you should know.

    I am intolerant of evil. Forcing innocent people to breathe fag effluent is evil, and I will continue to oppose it whatever you or any other apologist for the tobacco industry cares to throw at me.

  • Mark Littlewood 21st Oct '08 - 12:56pm

    To answer KL’s points, I don’t believe you have a right to go to any pub or restaurant and dictate to the rest of us (and the owner) what the smoking policy should be.

    No doubt though, in a free market, your tastes and preferences will be catered for. There are certainly a very large number of people who want to receive the same smoke free service when they go out for a meal or a drink. Folk like me – who really value smoking before, during and after a meal – will presumably choose, by and large, to frequent different establishments.

    On the NHS point, I might have some sympathy if tobacco duty wasn’t so crushingly massive. About 80% of the price of a packet of fags goes to the government in taxation. The revenue generated far exceeds even the most hysterical and extreme estimates of the costs of treating smoking related diseases.

    By all means remove the tax on cigarettes (reducing the cost of a packet of twenty to about 80p) and cease treating smoking-related diseases on the NHS. That would provide all of us who do smoke with easily enough extra money to take out first class private health insurance to cover smoking-related ailments, afflictions and diseases. But to suggest that smokers should be put to the back of the queue – or denied treatment altogether – when it’s actually non-smokers who are being subsidised is a bit much, frankly.

  • Charlotte Gore wrote:

    “Fear of passive smoking is whipped up to hysterical levels so that people irrationally hold their breaths and cross roads and smokers are made to feel like criminals.”

    Wrong, Charlotte Gore. There is nothing irrational in my holding my breath and crossing the road. I do both these things in order to avoid having to breathe fag stink. I don’t want to breathe fag stink because I hate it and have done all my life.

    And something else you need to know, Charlotte. I have held my breath and crossed the street long before anyone had heard of passive smoking.

    Oh, and Charlotte. It is I who is made to feel like a criminal, not the faggites.

  • Mark Littlewood 21st Oct '08 - 1:05pm

    Sesenco – what you actually said was “Beware those who try to present faggites’ “rights” as a civil liberties issue. All are stooges of the tobacco industry.”

    Well, that includes all those who are libertarian on the smoking issue then.

    I don’t think all those opposed to the tobacco industry are intolerant extremists. But I do think some are.

    I certainly did not imply that you’re a racist or homophobe. Merely that you’re stance on cigarettes seems to be an aesthetic one, not a rational one. Those who argue for e.g. tougher immigration or repatriation policy often have the same level of bile directed at ethnic minorities. I want to make it entirely clear, however, that I don’t put you in this category with regard to either sexuality or race.

    I do think you’re use of the word “faggite” is just gratuitously offensive. Ascribing “evil” to those who smoke is also incredibly extreme.

    I’ll try and find the stats. But as a non-driver, I am “forced” to inhale fumes from cars. I’d be interested to know the health risks on that.

  • Mark Littlewood 21st Oct '08 - 1:33pm

    “Charlotte Gore Says:
    21st October 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Ah a classic reason vs. hatred debate. joy.”

    It was ever thus 🙂

  • Mmm, debate…

    I can happily draw a distinction between clubs restaurants and pubs.

    I draw a line at public houses not being public spaces, maybe we should reclassify them instead.

    I also find it hard to dispute the idea that private members clubs should be able to set their own rules and allow smoking if that is what the members wish.

    I’m interested where exactly Sesenco drwas the line as it seems so far to be in defence of his own preference and is justified on those terms – in my book that doesn’t match the highest standards of scrutability.

  • Mark Littlewood wrote:

    “Merely that you’re stance on cigarettes seems to be an aesthetic one, not a rational one.”

    On the contrary, I consider it to be entirely rational. Fag effluent is both harmful to health and a nuisance. It is also avoidable (unlike traffic fumes, emantions from pig farms, etc).

    “Those who argue for e.g. tougher immigration or repatriation policy often have the same level of bile directed at ethnic minorities.”

    However, smoking in public is a matter of choice and is inherently wrong. Being black, Asian, etc, is neither inherently wrong nor a matter of choice.

    “I want to make it entirely clear, however, that I don’t put you in this category with regard to either sexuality or race.”

    Thank you for that.

    “I do think you’re use of the word “faggite” is just gratuitously offensive.”

    I don’t agree. It may be mildly offensive to some people, but it is also humorous. I find that humour does tend to help make issues clearer and encourages people to engage with them.

    “Ascribing “evil” to those who smoke is also incredibly extreme.”

    I ascribe evil to the activity.

    “I’ll try and find the stats. But as a non-driver, I am “forced” to inhale fumes from cars. I’d be interested to know the health risks on that.”

    As a proud driver (my car has 100,000 miles fewer on the clock than Lembit’s) I can confirm that road traffic is useful and necessary. Public smoking, by contrast, serves no useful purpose.

    As for Charlotte Gore, I think the lady might be a lost cause.

  • Sesenco,
    do you serve any other purpose except for inciting humour?

    Come on, either you go the whole “I don’t like it, we must ban it” hog or you don’t – like Mark V says.

    Halfway measures are only any good if you can create clear definitions for the conditions under which you do so, which you haven’t.

  • Oranjepan, what we need to ban is smoking in situations where it harms innocent third parties – eg, people going about their lawful business in public places, children and domestic animals. I have nothing against people poisoning themselves in private.

  • Folks, I’ve seen a lot of hot air on this blog,but not a word about air cleaners. I’m not surprised. These machines leave indoor air cleaner than outdoors , which pulls the plug on the “Stench “gang as well as the ” Murder” gang.The WHO’s argument that traces of smoke still remain to murder innocent bystanders is something that no thinking person would accept. But we don’t have many thinking people around, do we?

  • right, so please clearly define public, private and innocent in the context you used the terms.

  • Mark Littlewood 21st Oct '08 - 2:23pm

    Sesenco – a few points here.

    Firstly, I assume that you accept my criticism that by claiming “all” those who put the civil liberties case for smoking freedom are stooges, you have effectively asserted that all libertarians are in the employ of big tobacco.

    Moving away from points-scoring, to the substantive argument…

    I don’t think that you’re distinctions between “choice and nature” and “necessary and unnecessary” don’t bear much scrutiny.

    You’re right, of course, that my decision to smoke is clearly more of a matter of choice than my skin colour…BUT…there is now some evidence that nicotine attraction/addiction is based (possibly in large part) to genetic differences in neural receptors. Effectively, propensity to smoke and keep smoking may actually be in part a matter of “nature”. Of course, this doesn’t preclude banning smoking in public. An analogy can be drawn with homosexuality (I underscore here again that I’m not accusing you of homophobia, just illustrating a point). Even if homosexuality is wholly genetic, it’s still a choice to kiss in public. I don’t think this choice should be banned by the government even if it makes some people feel physically sick to witness gay kissing (although, of course, different pubs/clubs etc will impose different private rules on acceptable levels of physical intimacy). It’s just not as simple as nature v nurture or personal choice v genetic make up.

    The distinction between “necessary and unnecessary” or “needs and wants” is similarly hazy. We need to eat, for sure. But we don’t need to eat pigs (or possibly any animals). So, your example of the horrible smell of pig effluent being a social necessity isn’t really true.

    Similarly, on driving a car, there must be many journeys which aren’t necessities. Convenient for sure. Possibly the only way to get to work unless you move house. But what about a Sunday drive? Or driving rather than walking (or taking more environmentally friendly transport) because of bone idleness? Should such “lifestyle choices” be allowed in your regime? They involve people polluting my atmosphere for their leisure and convenience.

    Starting to ban or allow certain activities based on some centralised analysis of the social “usefulness of purpose” is a pretty chilling route to go down.

    On the word “faggite”, I don’t usually come over all PC. But this time I will. Is the supposed amusement value in it sounding a bit like “faggot”? Or what exactly? Again, I’m only accusing you of persecuting smokers – not other minorities, but a whole plethora of abusive terms are often used against minorities by people who don’t like them. I’m against banning such abuse, but it can be offensive and isn’t usually very funny.

    Similarly, a belief that smoking in public is an “evil” activity, really is off the scale…

  • Ive been a heavy smoker since age 15 and in the intervening years have consumed over 600,000 unfiltered cigarettes, While my health is not perfect at my advanced age, you’ll play hell blaming any of my health problems on cigarettes. And then we have fanatics crossing the street to avoid a whiff of smoke in the breezy outdoors.with car smog everywhere.

    I never realized how many fanatical bastards exist until the Fraud of the Century became fashionable. It would seem that the dumber the argument the louder it’s presented. God help us.

  • Mark Littlewood:

    Rather odd that you should be praying in aid yet another dubious claim of genetics, when advocates of smoking have until very recently at least been claiming that nicotine isn’t addictive (eg, Bob Dole).

    If addiction to tobacco is genetic, this strikes me as rather odd. Tobacco has only been available in this country since the beginning of the 17th century. But then, geneticists have also claimed to have found a “gay gene”, that Israel is developing a bomb that only kills Gentiles, and that blondes are about to die out.

    On the harm point. Perhaps it would be better to describe the internal combustion engine and the keeping of pigs in sheds as “useful” rather than “necessary”. Smoking, by contrast, has no beneficial function. It is exclusively negative in its effects.

    What does a faggite lose in not being able to indulge his habit in public places or in front of children and domestic animals? He loses the opportunity to abuse his body, which is good for him. And he loses the opportunity to harm others, which is good for the rest of us.

    If anyone is offended by the term “faggite”, hard cheese, quite frankly. What faggites do to innocent people and animals offends a great deal more.

  • Mark Littlewood 21st Oct '08 - 3:02pm

    Sesenco,

    I have never argued that nicotine is anything other than addictive. I don’t agree with Bob Dole on very much. So, it’s pretty unsurprising that I disagree with him on this too. I don’t know what you find odd about this at all.

    My argument was that propensity to nicotine addiction could be genetic. I stand by that. There is some evidence that the same is true for alcoholism too.

    Your lapse into banning or not banning things based on “usefulness” was precisely the trap I didn’t expect you to walk into. Such an approach would entail a fantastically illiberal society too. Smoking has brought me a lot of personal pleasure and helped me cope with stress. Tobacco farming keeps a lot of people in work. Don’t know how “useful” your state would consider this. Or how “useful” it would consider modern art, alternative comedy, playing rugby or a whole host of other activities.

    “Usefulness” – in other words some centralised judgement of social utility – as a basis for allowing or prohibiting certain activities is pretty much as close to the polar opposite of liberalism as I can imagine.

    If you seriously believe losing the opportunity to abuse your own body is good for you, there are a whole ton of other activities you’ll be wanting to prohibit.

    I stand by what I said on “faggite”. It’s just gratuitous and unfunny. Use it if you want, but it doesn’t help your argument.

  • Mark Littlewood 21st Oct '08 - 3:30pm

    I completely agree with Tom Papworth’s repetition of my argument. 🙂

  • Tom Papwroth wrote:

    “Why do you keep calling smokers and liberals “Faggites”? I will assume it is not because you are making a pun with “Faggots” (an offensive term for homosexuals) and assume that it is merely a desire to label and pigeonhole those with whom you disagree. Irrespective of one’s view on the topic at hand it makes you sound childish and so diminishes the power of your argument.”

    You obviously haven’t been reading my words with much care. I don’t call liberals “faggites”. I use the term to denote people who abuse the poisonous plant known as “tobacco”.

    Using the term, “faggite”, actually strengthens my argument, because I reach out to real people. If prissy politicos don’t like it, then that’s too bad.

    Perhaps you should start talking to your own constituents, Mr Papworth. I’m not so sure you do that too often.

  • Alix wrote:

    “Ah. You mean she won the argument. So awkward when people do that.”

    What you mean, Alix, is that she is pro-tobacco, like you.

    Let’s take a look at what she wrote in that post:-

    (1) She gave a false account of my personal history with regard to public smoking.

    (2) She sought to maintain that forcing other people to breathe tobacco smoke is reasonable behaviour.

    I’m not sure that getting one’s facts wrong amounts to winning the argument. But if she made you feel less bad about your own smoking habit, Alix, then you have something to curse her for.

  • Tom Papworth:

    So you stand for forcing people to breathe other people’s tobacco smoke? There are more illiberal things, but frankly not too many.

    Mark LIttlewood:

    At least you are honest enough to admit that you are yourself a tobacco abuser. Not everyone in this thread is so candid.

  • Mark Littlewood 21st Oct '08 - 4:11pm

    I’m not sure I’m a tobacco “abuser”. Unless you also reckon I abuse Big Macs and lager.

  • Tom Papworth wrote:

    “Nobody is forcing anybody to do anything.”

    Yes you are. You’re saying it is OK for people to smoke in public.

    Your colleague, Mr Canvin, is highly respected. A real gentleman of the old school. You, by contrast, have a reputation for invisibility. Thank goodness.

    Alix:

    So what have I said that you object to?

    Charlotte Gore maintains that my dislike of tobacco smoke stems from an irrational fear of catching lung cancer. It doesn’t. I have detested tobacco smoke long before passive smoking was ever heard of. So how does getting one’s facts wrong amount to winning an argument?

    Congratulations on chucking the fags, by the way. Perhaps you should wear a lapel badge to encourage others to follow your exmaple. “7 months fag free”. A friend of ine signs his emails “X number of days without a fag”.

    Mark Littlewood:

    I think we’ll allow you Big Macs and lager. McDonalds maybe US corporate thugs of the worst kind, but no-one is forcing us to eat their tat.

  • Mark Littlewood 21st Oct '08 - 4:38pm

    Sesenco – no one is forcing me to smoke tobacco either. And I consume the product in the way intended. That’s way I wondered why you had me down as a tobacco “abuser” rather a mere “user”

  • Mark Littlewood wrote:

    “That’s way I wondered why you had me down as a tobacco “abuser” rather a mere “user””

    What I meant is that you “abuse” tobacco in the same way that other people “abuse” crack cocaine, etc. My point is that a lot of people who sneer at recreational drug users are tobacco (ab)users. Malcolm Muggeridge was one. When someone pointed it out to him, he stopped that very instant. At least Mug wasn’t a hypocrite.

    Tom Papworth:

    Accusing someone of being a stalker is defamatory.

  • Julian H:

    There are two serious points here.

    (1) We have to be careful what we write in public fora.

    (2) Mr Papworth should not be allowed to get away with slinging gratuitous insults in order to cover up his poor record as a local councillor.

  • Julian H:

    Are you actually familiar with Councillor Papworth’s record?

  • Mark Littlewood 21st Oct '08 - 5:23pm

    This discussion – supposedly about liberalism and the smoking ban – has now long since departed from farce and is about to be washed ashore the craggy rocks of tragedy.

    I don’t know anything about Tom’s record as a councillor, but on the couple of times I’ve met him, he seems an intelligent, articulate and hard-working bloke. But why don’t we leave his council record to his constituents?

  • Grammar Police 21st Oct '08 - 6:17pm

    Mark, just coming back to you from earlier this morning – I don’t agree that passive smoking has to be an inherent risk in working in a bar, restaurant or office. Your argument is based around the idea that fewer people might drink in pubs if they can’t smoke their too. That may be true, but it doesn’t link the two things.

    As for limitations on the amount of drink that can be sold to prevent the risk of drunken behaviour – well, what about rules on legal age to purchase alcohol, rules on not serving drunk people, and schemes like pub watch etc?

    I come at this not from someone trying to defend the smoking ban per se, but as someone who can see an argument for restrictions on smoking in public that are compatible with liberal principles.

  • oo, this seemed to have sparked off in the meantime.

    For the record I can bring myself to back this ban, but that depends on getting the conditionality correct.

    So even assuming the health implications until Sesenco can expand on the definitions of public, private and innocent to general satisfaction I think the onus is still on the prohibitionists to prove his rhetorical point is anything more than imposing his own wishes on others.

  • I have just returned from a cruise on which smoking was allowed in almost all outside areas. This ruined the cruise for us and prompts me to write the following

    The smoking issue is presented as a “debate” and a lot is talked about civil liberty. The issue is so clear it could not be simpler.
    1. A civil right is the right to pursue one’s own interests in so far as they are legal and they do not infringe on the rights of others. Breathing obnoxious and unhealthy fumes is clearly an infringement wherever it occurs.
    2. Smoking is a serious discomfort for most non smokers. Ask them. Recent laws to prevent it inside public areas was a response to this clear fact.
    3. Allowing smoking in any area protects the rights only of the smokers and infringes on the rights of others.
    4. Children are subjected to smoking without recourse for 18 years and if this were any other offence against them it would be actionable in law.
    5. People who find smoking obnoxious are prohibited from Cruises, Boat rides, Outside eating and numerous other activities.
    6. Other similarly socially unacceptable behaviour is not tolerated because it is less wide spread and is not an addiction with large money involvement. It is an offence to spit or dispose of litter. These are far less of a problem for non smokers.
    7. Restricting smokers from indoor smoking has had a predictable and detrimental effect. I could avoid Pubs but I now have them in doorways and sitting in outside seating areas where I am obliged to go.
    8. After 30 years of information stating that smoking is deadly for the smokers and others and is offensive to non smokers and especially children we are still paying large sums to beg them not to do it. We should by now be telling them it is unacceptable.
    9. The argument that they have contributed to tax and been the victims of cigarette companies has long since run out.
    The problems with smoking do not relate to reason or rights they are as follows:-
    1. There are a lot of smokers who are also voters
    2. There is big money involved
    3. It is difficult to police
    4. Smokers are addicts and likely to rebel violently to a total ban.
    So it seems we are not concerned with what is clearly right but with what is pragmatic. Please do not justify Wars and other government acts on the basis of rights and justice. There is no such thing.

  • MJB,
    smoking may cause noxious fumes, but whether or not they are obnoxious is a matter of opinion.

    A personal distaste for certain smells is not enough to justify legislation.

    The health-related and environmental aspects of the issue need clearer definition – passive smoking is generally considered definable where it occurs in enclosed spaces, so if you wish to broaden this out and describe it as unacceptable pollution then you start to encroach on territory regarding all forms of pollution and problems arise with questions of jurisdiction and legitimacy.

    Until there is international consensus on these principles enforcement is impossible.

  • MJB has stated an unanswerable case with far greater eloquence than I could muster.

    The irreduceable issue is as follows: forcing innocent people to breathe tobacco smoke is unacceptable in a civilised society and should not be tolerated.

  • Sesenco,
    please define ‘civilised’.

    I don’t think everyone where will accept your definition, seeing as it is predicated on an issue where there is still no conclusive solution.

    Who is forcing who here?

  • Oranjepan:

    You are raising non-issues. The law is perfectly capable of fashioning adequate definitions of terms like “public place”, etc.

    BTW, the accusative of “who” is “whom”.

  • And dative as well.

  • You sound authoratative on linguistics, Sesenco – so it’s a shame you don’t like the vernacular, which is a much more human form of language.

  • Authoratative on linguistics.

    Authoritarian on everything else.

  • As the “ranting loon” who got the first comment in, I must address your own lame-brained comment. I speak unvarnished fact and you speak an unvarnished fraud and I’m a ranting lunatic.

    How much is your Robert Wood Johnson check for?

  • Anonymous wrote:

    “Authoratative on linguistics.

    Authoritarian on everything else.”

    Which is presumably why I oppose martial law for under 16s. Tee hee.

  • Joe Camel:

    It sounds as if you’ve done to your brain with tobacco what George W Bush has done to his with Jack Daniels.

  • Senenco:

    You’re not fooling anyone with a 3 digit IQ. Blow it out your left wing cloaca,

  • Joe Camel:

    Yes, pro-tobacco mountebanks do tend to occupy the right, don’t they?

    Consider, if you will, that sickeningly sanctimonious, holier-than-thou moraliser, Dr Roger Scruton. Yes, it turned out that said self-proclaimed paragon of pure virtue was being paid by Japan Tobacco to plant pro-tobacco articles in the press.

    This is the same Dr Roger Scruton who thinks hanging people by mistake is OK, who finds tearing foxes to pieces “morally uplifting”, and calls upon us oiks to show “respect” to our “betters”.

    You’re in nice company, Joe Camel.

    (No, I’m, not going to use this post to maul a silly old man. Far better to savage the likes of Scruton.)

  • Sesenco:

    See the above. As a young whippersnapper,come back when your brain is fully developed.

  • Thanks for the compliment, Joe Camel.

    That’s the benefit of never having handled a cigarette. Looking young at my age!

  • Sesenco:
    Are you a politician i.e. one who has clout in things like smoking bans? If not, why do you waste your time?

    Answer the question.

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