Submitted by George Callaghan…
All around the global liberty is in mortal peril. There is one right that is under particular threat – the right to smoke tobacco.
Tobacco grows naturally. It is aromatic, flavourful and has brought untold contentment to billions. Why is it that consuming this innocent plant through smoking or chewing is now regarded as a disgusting vice?
Smoking kills. No shit Sherlock! Everyone knows that smoking is injurious to a person’s health. I have news for you: life is a terminal condition. We are all going to die. So let each decide how to live it and how to end it.
Like everyone else I have had friends and relatives who have died. I know what death is. Like most of you I have seen corpses. Anti-smokers should stop trying to guilt trip us by saying that by allowing smoking we are killing people.
We are witnessing the stealthy criminalization of smoking. Now mark this: within ten years a Western land will outlaw the possession of tobacco. Bhutan has already done so.
Think back to the 1950s. There were no restrictions on smoking at all. Those were not halcyon days. People had not the foggiest notion that the consumption of tobacco had a deleterious effect on the constitution.
In 1950 Dr Richard Doll published his world-famous article in the British Medical Journal. He proved that smoking occasions pulmonary cancer. In point of fact, a study in the Third Reich arrived at the self-same conclusion 15 years earlier. But who would give the National Socialists credit for anything? Genocidal they were – stupid they were not.
As we are cognizant that smoking debilitates a person it is apposite that some proportionate restrictions be placed on tobacco. Having an age limit is sensible. But 16 was acceptable and 18 is unduly high. Health warnings on packets of cigarettes is a reasonable thing to do. The first government in the world to mandate such warnings was the Irish Government. Hurrah! Erin go Bragh! Having no smoking zones is also a meet and sagacious step. But we should not go too far in imposing such no smoking zones in too many places.
We have filter cigarettes. This makes ciggies less injurious to one’s wellbeing than they otherwise would be. I would not make this type mandatory.
The purpose of abridgements on smoking ought to be to protect non smokers and not to protect smokers. Filters are an example of this. The smokers ingest fewer noxious chemicals than before. But it means that the even more of the harmful chemicals are blown into the atmosphere to affect others.
Second hand smoke certainly damages the health of non-smokers. People are not allowed to smoke in almost any building besides a house. This is an excessive usurpation of liberty. I support extensive no smoking zones in buildings. A limited number of smoking licences could be issued to bars, restaurants and nightclubs in a town. This could keep at least 70% of such venues smoke free. What about non-smokers working in smoking venues? Tough. Get another job. Or else accept cancer as an occupational hazard.
We should restore smoking coaches on trains. It was always easy to get a seat in one.
Rules preventing people smoking within X metres of a building are too strict. We breathe in an infinitesimally small amount of smoke when we walk past such persons. In fact, a person inhales more carcinogens cooking a barbecue than smoking sometimes. No one is demanding that we outlaw barbies.
Banning smoking in buildings has forced smokers onto the street. This mean that passersby breathe in the smoke. In the winter is also exposes smokers to the cold. Girls in cocktail dresses risk pneumonia because of this wicked policy.
We should have smoking rooms in airports. It works well in Switzerland which is a bastion of liberty.
There have been numerous abridgements of liberty in relation to tobacco which are over the top. They contravene core principles of personal autonomy. The state should back off.
Restrictions imposed on smoking are always justified on the grounds of public health. Such an argument is infinitely extendable. It can be applied to mandatory exercise and the banning of certain comestibles. However, not many healthfreaks go that far.
It is revealing that the health argument is only used with regard to certain activities. Gays are 50 times more likely than straight males to get HIV. Yet governments do not outlaw gay sex in the West. A person can use a condom. Unsafe sex has not been banned – yet! Lesbians have almost no chance of catching HIV. But governments do not scare hetero females into being gay. Pregnancy is risky but as yet it has not been outlawed. You may say that sexual activity is natural. Some would dispute that with regard to gay liaisons and some sexual acts. But tobacco is also natural. For that matter cancer is natural. Indeed, death is as natural as death. Health warnings are unnatural which does not render them condemnable.
Note how liberal leftists tend to be all in favour of cannabis. Is it a liberal left drug? Is it because it is associated with India and the Caribbean? Why then are liberals and leftists so agin tobacco? Do they consider it a white man’s weed? Or is it because they associate it with imperialism?
Smokers are in fact public spirited. We ought to commend them most warmly. By purchasing tobacco they are voluntarily shouldering more than their fair share of the tax burden.
Tobacco advertising has been prohibited in most Western countries. This is an unwarrantable intrusion on freedom of expression and free trade. We are subjected to oodles of anti -smoking propaganda. Smoking does undermine a person’s health. No doubt about it. But as anti-smokers are permitted to put their case it is only fair that pro-smokers should be permitted to set out their stall. Let us teach their debate.
The way that anti-smokers bang on you might be forgiven for thinking that smokers die 50 years early. In fact, on average they die 12 years earlier. Much depends on how much the smoke and which brand of cigarettes or tobacco. 80 a day is not 1 a week. Many people are just occasional smokers.
The content of cigarettes has been changed. They no longer contain so many harmful chemicals. Neil Hamilton was one of the few people valiant enough to say that people should be permitted to smoke these most hazardous ciggies.
Astonishingly it is the political left that is most adamant that tax on tobacco be raised to eye watering levels. This is a highly regressive tax. It disproportionately hits those on the lowest incomes. This is egregiously pernicious. We are often told that by putting a pack of cigarettes ate over £ 10 this puts it beyond a financial and psychological boundary. The very same people tell us that tobacco is an addiction. If this is so then raising the tax is downright cruel. If someone is really addicted then no matter how high the price is he will pay it. Nicotine is the addictive element in cigarettes. Tellingly no one calls for nicotine to be outlawed. Much of the anti-smoking campaign is control freakery. It is about petty tyrants getting a kick out of lording it over us. Some of these bigots, prudes and do gooders wanted to micromanage every facet of your life.
Tobacco helped to fund sports. It did a great deal for charity. A tobacco manufacturer donated a huge sum to Bristol University.
I remember the glorious days when cigarette girls came to undergraduate parties. These nubile ladies would be decked out in the red livery of their brand. They would hand out ciggies and light them. If someone agreed to give his name and address they would give him a free pack. Back then mail order was allowed. Wretched rapscallion parliamentarians deprived us of this.
Unhappily the West is now suffering from an infestation of busybodies. These bossy boots are forever riding roughshod over our rights. Say no to health totalitarianism. These do gooders should back off. Go back to your vegan bakes!
The fines for giving a cigarette to someone under 18 are far too high. This is grossly unjust. The penalty is out of all proportion to the harm done. As Gilbert and Sullivan said ‘let the punishment fit the crime’. The exploitation of children by the anti-tobacco crusaders is one of the most unpalatable aspects of their campaign.
A cigarette will not kill you. Nor shall 1000. 10 000 just might do. Every time you take a drag you are making a decision. People have myriad chances to cease their smoking.
The anti-smoking caucus is also dishonest. It distorts history. Churchill’s cigar and Harold Wilson’s pipe are being airbrushed out.
How do you preserve organic material? Smoke it or preserve it in alcohol. Admittedly that is dead material.
Got a light?
One of the noblest organisations I know is FOREST (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco). FOREST is about tobacco only and not about more potent substances.
It is indisputable that in the Occident we have less liberty of person than heretofore. Governments have taken it upon themselves to curtail personal autonomy in a number of fields. It is though we may soon see the Mortality (Abolition) Act passed by Parliament. One cannot legislate for immortality. Should governments strive to increase longevity.
Oncology has come on leaps and bounds. That being so the case for the limitation of smoking rights is groundless. Cancer is more survivable than ever. With that in view one ought to relax many of the restrictions that have been placed on the advertising and consumption of tobacco.
I have smoked a mere six cigarettes in my life. I consider myself to be a non-smoker. However, whilst in Cuba it would have been unseemly not to partake of a cohiba supremo. Decency and curiosity obliged me to partake of the local product.
As with so many of our financial problems we should smoke our way out of it. Smokers die younger. They therefore draw pensions for a shorter time. They also take a burden of the health service. If we really cared about public finances we would hand out cigarettes for free especially to those in prison.
We should repeal the laws which forbid tobacco advertising. The health warnings ought to be reduced in size. The smoking age should be reduced to 16. The penalties for supplying tobacco to those under 16 should be reduced.
The anti-smoking lobby will be aghast at this campaign for smoking rights. They will say – if you advocate for smoking rights then you must demand that heroin be legalized. It ain’t necessarily so. Tobacco is not heroin. There might be a common principle. But one need not go from the sublime to the ridiculous. There is a case for the legalization of heroin which I have vindicated in this publication on another occasion. But even if one accepts that the limitation on liberty that have been introduced on tobacco ought to be undone it does not follow that one is obliged to support the decriminalization of heroin. Heroin is an order of magnitude more harmful to a person’s health than tobacco. Further, heroin has a deleterious effect on a person’s mental health. The same does not pertain to tobacco. One need not follow a line of reasoning to its intellectual and logical vanishing point. Being reasonable indicates that one does not feel bound to go the whole hog. One can do one step forward without being compelled to go a thousand steps forward.
People must be allowed to make their own choices within reason. That includes their own mistakes. Who is to say what a mistake is? Whose life is it?
Some people want a shorter life more crammed with pleasure rather than a long one devoid of all enjoyment.
There are few pleasures in life that one should forego for the sake of an extra few years in a nursing home.
Repealing the pernicious anti-smoking legislation would make us freer, richer and happier.
Bring back freedom. I will smoke to that!
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.