Tuesday, 11 February 2014
SOCIETY: THE IMPENDING BAN ON SMOKING IN CARS WHEN CHILDREN ARE PRESENT
It would be nice if this boiled down to a simple matter of facts but it doesn't. So, in order to be as fair as possible given that I'm completely in favour, first my biases. Or prejudices, if you will.
1. I smoked cigarettes from the age of 21 to the age of 48. My actual views on smoking have remained the same in that I believe myself to be one of the few smokers who had no illusions about, or justifications for, the habit.
2. Politically I'm on the libertarian centre-left. Essentially that means, as far as this subject goes, I believe the government should not interfere with its citizens so long as what they do does not impact negatively on other citizens and on the community as a whole. I also believe that citizens of the state have a responsibility towards the community.
Clear? Yes -good. No -tough.
It is a habit with no virtues at all. The smell is mostly unpleasant, particularly with regard to cigarettes -opinions on the smell of pipe and cigar smoke varies. It is dangerous to your health, particularly in the long term, and to the health of those around you (second-hand smoke). It is addictive. Were smoking to be attempted to be introduced today I have no doubt that it would be banned on health and safety grounds.
If smoking was to be done inside a glass helmet then I would have no objections at all as it would not affect other citizens. It would also be funny to look at. Unfortunately this is not practical.
Given my libertarian views I am not in favour of banning smoking (though I wouldn't shed a tear if that were to happen). I do believe, however, it should be restricted to places solely occupied by consenting adults.
Needless to say, this does not include cars with children in them. I would also, on the grounds of it increasing the risk of an accident, ban drivers of moving vehicles from smoking.
On health grounds alone, children should not be exposed to potentially dangerous cigarette smoke and that, as far as I'm concerned, includes in their own homes. Adults have a moral responsibility to ensure that this does not happen.
On the enforcement of the ban.
When the subject cropped up in The Times, I read the article online and the many comments which followed. Many of those against the ban argued, and probably rightly, that it's unenforceable. I wrote a comment to the effect that it didn't matter. What the ban will actually do is to increase awareness of the potential effects on children who have no say over their parents smoking and increase the moral opprobrium against smoking, particular in this case. It increases the numbers of those holding the view that smoking is an anti-social act. It is the moral disgust that will be the most effective factor in reducing smoking in cars with children rather than a handful of police actions against transgressors.
Well, I already stated that in my second sentence.
Go, baby, go!