Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Behind the Smoke Screen

The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.


So wrote John Stuart Mill. Now seeing as everyone seems to be espousing how truly liberal they are these days, the Orange Bookers, the leadership candidates, new father David Cameron et al I though we should go back to one of the founders of liberal philosophy.

There has been a lot of hoopla in the last few hours by my fellow Liberal Democrats regarding the ban on smoking in public places in England, it must be noted Scotland and Northern Ireland are already preparing for their bans. Bear in mind this legislation is largely to aid some of the poorest paid workers in Britain those on or near minimum wage who work as bar and restaurant staff. The universality of the ban is to the benefit of all workers.

Somebody, somewhere said why don’t we also ban alcohol, thinking that we are merely out to ban every. Well people do not die from second hand inhalation of alcohol fumes. If anyone can prove otherwise I’m sure that will be something that has to be looked into. Yes their are health worries with alcohol but these are primary affecting the user and not secondary affecting someone nearby while the alcohol is consumed. Physical attacks from someone under the influence is dealt with by other legislation, but I am getting off the point.

People have mentioned smoking rooms in pubs etc, ok tell me who is going to remove the empties from these rooms. Don’t answer the patrons. I know of very few patrons of any pub or restaurant that take their empties back to the bar or hatch themselves, some member of staff will have to go in there to retreive these.

As for ventilation systems these are costly and not 100% effective. A large number of smaller premises, private members clubs included would not be able to afford such devices; I know for example a number of bowling clubs would be unable to afford such an outlay. However, as with a separate room somebody has still got to service such facilities and he or she would still come in contact with second-hand smoke before it is extracted through the ventilation system.

The benefits is not also to the public health but to the public pocket. The ban on smoking in public places elsewhere has seen a reduction in smoking. This leads to a reduction in health care needed in the long term, leading to a lower public expenditure requirement.

I was at the very interesting and varied debate at Scottish Conference regarding the proposal for Scotland, so I know that this issue divides the party which is why it was given a free vote up to each member to decide for themselves. But can we now move on.

What's next? Oh yes, 'glorification' of terrorism.

7 comments:

Peter Black said...

Ventilation is not just 'less than 100% effective' it is very ineffective. It does not remove the dnagerous carcinogenic particles from cigarette smoke, which of course has to pass over you on the way out.

Stephen Glenn said...

I knew it was considerably less but did not have the figure to my fingertips. Having spent 5 years with a bio-chemist whose parents are both smokers I've heard the arguments.

Jock Coats said...

Do you have reputable figures for that Peter somewhere. It's not what FOREST claim to have demonstrated.

Paul Griffiths said...

Sometimes the liberal blogosphere is like Groundhog Day in Philosophy 101. If I see that quote from J S Mill one more time I'll scream. The guy died over a 100 years ago. Are we supposed to believe that liberal thought has not advanced at all since then, or that 100 years of scientific progress have not affected the application of liberal principles? Case in point: what did Mill really know about the nature of addiction? And (on an unrelated point) how many times does it need to be pointed out that the money raised from taxes on tobacco easily exceeds NHS expenditure on smoking-related diseases?

Angus J Huck said...

FOREST is funded by the tobacco industry and staffed by anarcho-capitalist nuts. Anything said outfit says on any subejct needs to be treated with extreme suspicion.

Peter Black said...

Jock, see my blog for more details on ventilation.

Stephen Glenn said...

Yeah and very comprehensive it is too Jock.

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