“Smoking is bad for the health of the smoker and should therefore be discouraged.”
I have no doubt that smoking is bad for the health of smokers. I also have no doubt that every single smoker is aware of this fact. Many things are bad for our health: Not eating five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, not drinking eight glasses of water a day, not exercising regularly, drinking alcohol, eating fatty foods, eating salty foods, etc, etc, etc.
However, people have the right to determine for themselves if the pleasure they derive from an activity is adequate compensation for any impact it may have on their health ?
Do we want to live in a world where we are all force fed a nutritionally optimal diet, washed down with water, before being marched outside for mandatory exercise ?
If we own nothing else, we own our physical bodies and should be free to do with them whatever we wish, without interference from the state.
“Smoking related diseases cost the NHS billions of pounds a year, so smoking should be discouraged”
The health gestapo are increasingly using this as a reason to tell people how to live their lives.
How about the logically identical argument:
Age related diseases cost the NHS billions of pounds a year, so getting old should be discouraged
Perhaps some voluntary euthenasia, for those pesky old folk who keep getting ill and using up the budget !
Fat people, old people, disabled people, drinkers, premature babies, accident victims, etc all cost the NHS more than a tee-total, vegan marathon runner.
Most life-style choices have some impact on our health. Are we really saying that we want a world where our decisions are not ours to make freely but should be made to minimize the NHS budget !
“Most people don’t smoke and would prefer to go to pubs and restaurants without smokers”
If this were true then the free market would have solved the problem long ago. Entrepreneurs would have set up no smoking pubs, no smoking restaurants, etc and the customers would have deserted the existing establishments en-masse. Non-smokers would have ample choice and the remaining smokers would be catered for in a small number of smoking only establishments.
If it needs a government ban then obviously non-smokers were not bothered enough to vote with their wallets. If they don’t care enough to make smoke free enterprises a viable commercial proposition then why force the issue with Nanny State intervention.
Why is it not acceptable for a group of free individuals, who all chose to smoke, to get together in their own private club and smoke?
“It is a health and safety issue for workers in smoke filled environments”
I have yet to see anyone marched into a smoke filled pub at gun point and told they must work there. People are free to make choices about what sort of work they will do and for what wage. Working as a deep sea diver is probably far more dangerous than working behind a smoke filled bar, but people are allowed to do it. Professional boxers work in an extremely hazardous environment, by choice because they feel that the high rewards are ample compensation.
If people are really concerned about smoke filled environments then few people will apply for such jobs. As the supply of willing labour falls the wages on offer will rise. At some point enough people will decide that the extra wages are fair compensation for the smoke filled environment and the positions will be filled by willing workers.
Markets work very well at letting individuals decide for themselves what they want to do with their lives. The problem is that the Nanny State doesn’t like some of these freely made choices and wants to tell people how they should live.
“The Majority of People Want a Smoking Ban So it Must be a Good Thing”
Freedom is about protecting the minority from the majority mob. In Nazi Germany the people voted for Hitler and the majority supported the extermination of the Jews. In ancient rome the majority of people were in favour of slavery and feeding Christians to the lions.
Just because a majority of people think something does not make it right, or give them the right to compel a minority who think differently.
I am sure that we could generate a majority opinion in favour of banning:
Fox Hunting (Oops, already managed that one)
Supporting Manchester United
Virtually every activity is a minority interest for part of the population. Defending freedom means supporting the minority whose activity you don’t like and hoping they will defend you when it is your minority interest that is under threat.
“If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind” – John Stuart Mill – On Liberty 1869