Where There’s Smoke…

  The House of Commons has just passed a resolution allowing the government to impose a blanket ban on smoking in cars containing children. Just to be clear, this emphatically does not mean that a ban has been created – it merely enables the government, at any point in the future, to do so. This is quite likely to occur in the fairly near future, as failure to do so would be highly damaging politically, but as of yet, no. Just to be clear: you may continue to poison your children’s lungs for a little while to come. 

  Now, it would be fair to say that I broadly support this move. I do think that children need to be protected from dangerous chemicals, of which tobacco smoke is one, and government’s major responsibility is to prevent harm to the citizens of the country which is governs. It is a sad, sad thing that legislation is even necessary in this area – seriously, why the Hell is anyone smoking in front of their kids anyway? – but NHS statistics suggest that 430,000 children are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke in their family cars. So yes, this move was an unfortunate necessity.

  But…

  There’s always a but, isn’t there? And in this case it’s a big one, because this move DOES impinge on civil liberties – there’s no question of that. You can argue the toss one way or the other as to whether this particular impingement is justifiable – and as I say, I would consider that it is – but it represents what is a creeping attempt to curtail the freedoms of the people. Now, as a once radical anti-smoker, it will likely come as a shock to many who know me when I say I think the ban on smoking in pubs should be overturned. I agree that in restaurants, shops etc. it is reasonable but pubs are traditionally places where people go for their leisure time – and if they want to smoke, why legislate to stop them? There might be those who don’t wish to breath in the smoke, of course, but it would be a fairly simple matter to put a screen of some kind up to create a smoking area if a pub wants to attract both smokers and non-smokers. In any case, this kind of decision should rest with the landlord – not the government.

  The reason I support the new move is because the protection of children has to be legally enforced. Simply put, children should not be exposed to dangerous chemicals until they are old enough to take that decision for themselves. Adults, though, should be free to do what they wish provided it does not cause undue harm to non-consenting persons. So yes, legalise marijuana. Yes, allow smoking in designated smokers’ pubs. Yes, allow people to continue gorging themselves on fast food if that is their choice. If health problems result from this, then they should be made to pick up the tab, but it is firmly not government’s job to tell adults what they can and can’t do in situations where it hurts no-one else. Civil liberties are important, and we must begin the process of clawing them back from the state.

  Otherwise, when they come for the really important ones – freedom of expression, assembly, religion etc. – we’ll be so used to it no-one will think twice.

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2 thoughts on “Where There’s Smoke…

  1. Random collection of thoughts much appreciated. And yes, I do keep changing the layout and colour scheme etc. I'm still not 100% happy with it, so be prepared for more changes in the future. And I like to feel I have matured somewhat since the days of said organisation. Although, having said that, I'm still as much an advocate of a federalised British state and stronger links with the Commonwealth as I ever was. Just for different reasons

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  2. Thought I'd stop by and see how the blog's doing, and wow it's all completely different! Be prepared for a collection of random thoughts, that don't necessarily connect with one another or with common sanity.

    I've often wondered why smokers' pubs or non-smoking pubs with a smoking area aren't allowed. Anything to stop the smokers congregating in the beer garden or breathing their dirty fumes at passersby on the street. And it is deeply unsettling when a government decides it has the moral authority to instruct you on how to behave. Do as we say because we're better than you.

    Your views on civil liberties sound close to the harm principle;I wonder if you've read / heard about John Stuart Mill's 'On Liberty'? If not, it's worth checking out. It may be a dry, stuffy and frankly capital V Victorian, read, but it's got a lot of interesting libertarian ideas that essentially boil down to “do what the hell you like as long as you're not harming other people” (Mill is nowhere near as blunt as this, more's the pity). If nothing else, you can enjoy the irony of the epitome of an upper middle class member of the Victorian political establishment actively encouraging (other) people to be eccentric weirdos who make a fool of themselves in public. It's a hoot.

    Seeing your link to Left Unity made me reflect how your political views have changed beyond recognition (for the better I might add) over the time I've known you. It wasn't that many years ago that a certain imperialist party was making the rounds on Facebook, but sshhh don't tell anybody! *cough* Closet fascist. What?!

    I do appreciate the plug for the always wonderful Planet Rock: the home of Darren Redick's badly delivered traffic reports and endless Screw Fix commercials.

    Anyway, random collection of thoughts over, so I'll stop writing. In the words of Arnie, “I'll be back”, a statement that is here used as both a threat and a promise.

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