Friday, February 02, 2024

"Stop that, it's silly": My instinctive reaction to the government's latest proposal on smoking

Caron Lindsay raises the question of whether we should support the government's plans to prohibit anyone born after 1 January 2009 from ever buying cigarettes.

And I think she comes down on the right side:

I do think that reducing smoking is a good thing. I was absolutely in favour of the legislation banning smoking in public places. It’s a great thing that people under 25 have never experienced being in a smoky pub or restaurant in this country. It’s meant that people with conditions like Asthma can go out without fear. I don’t mind making cigarettes more difficult or expensive to get. 

But I think that the Governments’ proposals are a step too far. Adults, all adults, should be free to do and buy what they like so long as it doesn’t harm others and it seems strange that one 40 year old can buy cigarettes and another can’t. How can that be liberal?

Along the way she suggests, surely rightly, that the measure will grow the black market for cigarettes and be used as another argument for making people carry identity documents.

If such an arbitrary cut off date isn't against human rights legislation then it should be. But I have to admit that my overwhelming proposal of the impression is that it's not illiberal so much as silly. Hence the video above.

I am reminded too of Calder's First Law of Politics:

If all parties are united in support of a measure, it will turn out to be a disaster.

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