And according to this Washington Post writer, it’s elitist . . . because it doesn’t do enough to prevent tobacco use in poor, rural areas. Hilariously, not a single contributor to the Post’s roundtable discussion thinks to mention that policing people’s nasty habits is not an appropriate venue for government activism.
Neil Clark may be a nutty socialist, but I enjoyed his take on the British smoking ban from a few years back:
The death of liberal England has been predicted many times over the past decade. But on Sunday, England, for long regarded (rightly) as one of the freest countries in the world, will finally mark the end of its long history as a liberal country as the government’s draconian smoking ban comes into force.
There is no liberal case whatsoever for the ban; if you support it you may be many things, but please, don’t have the audacity to call yourself a liberal. The argument for restricting smoking in public on account of the possible health risks caused by passive smoking is an argument for having separate smoking areas in pubs, cafes and restaurants and not for a blanket ban, which will encompass even private clubs where members have assented to a pro-smoking policy.
The government could easily have opted for a compromise measure as some European countries have done, or left it up to the owners of pubs and cafes to decide their own smoking policy. But no: true to New Labour’s bossy, illiberal instincts, the ban had to be total. To enforce the ban, local councils will rely on legions of plain-clothes snoopers, ready to shop fellow citizens for the heinous crime of smoking in public. Blair inherited a country, which, for all its faults, could still be called a free one, he has left it with its own equivalent of the Staasi.
Whatever your views on smoking (and no one denies that the habit, like the officially approved New Labour ones of drinking, over-working and starting illegal wars carries a health risk), ask yourself this simple question. Do you really want to live in a country where lighting a cigarette, cigar or pipe in a pub or cafe, as English men and women have done for decades- is deemed a criminal offence? Smoking may, to many people, be annoying, silly and smelly- but criminal?