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A call goes out to Ireland

It is galling to read endless utilitarian articles for and against banning smoking on commercial (but nevertheless private) property with nary a mention of whether it is actually just to enact authoritarian proscriptions on the acts of others who are, after all, in voluntary close proximity.

At least the erratic Telegraph takes a fairly good stab at doing just that:

Other politicians throughout Europe will be watching the Irish experiment closely. You can be sure that if the Irish surrender to the new law without a strong show of resistance, it will not be long before a similar ban is introduced in Britain.

So Irish smokers have a responsibility to freedom-lovers everywhere to make their displeasure felt. They have already come up with some ingenious suggestions for exploiting loopholes in the new law. We wish them luck in finding more.

We note that prisons are among the very few workplaces exempted from the ban. So anyone incarcerated in the cause of freedom will at least be allowed the consolation of a smoke.

Light up, Ireland. Do not cooperate in your own repression.

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43 comments to A call goes out to Ireland

  • James

    I’m in two minds over the ban these days. On the one hand, publicans are licensed to sell alcohol to the public in a venue that, while being private property, is “a public place” by virtue of their acceptance of an alcohol sales license from the Govt. i.e you deal for or with the Govt., you’re bound by the rules.

    For example, they cannot refuse service to customers (as is my understanding) on the basis of whether they are black, white, Catholic or a member of a minority. Not sure if this is a stipulation of the license conditions or some other legislation, but essentially a public house must be open to all the public.

    Another example might be voting stations. By my understanding, private property can be used as such a station, but the owners must accept there are certain things they can or cannot do. e.g. if a church is used for polling, they cannot require voters to pray, attend services etc..

    On the other hand is the argument that there should be no licensing, and that publicans should have full rights to define who comes onto their premises, and what they can do there. Should there really be licensing at all? (and therefore all pubs are private property, subject only to the whims of the manager/owner) While this might be attractive, we would have to apply this across all industries. Not sure how that’d go down (Not like it’ll ever happen)

    The strongest argument in favour for me is the one put forth regarding the health of the staff. While there are many back-and-forth arguments over whether passive smoking is dangerous or not, it seems to me difficult to believe that the smoke, so dangerous to the first set of lungs it enters, is somehow less dangerous when it enters others. I understand there may be diffusion factors and changes in chemical composition, but over several hours a day, through many years of service, it seems unlikely that there’s no effect. However, I’m not aware of any studies relating to this, or what their timeframes were.

    It would seem to me that if we accept for a moment that the Govt. has the right (or duty) to draft and enforce work safety legislation (which they do), then to exempt bar staff from safety regulations would be unfair. By rights, Govt. would have no moral standing from which to impose them on other industries if they exclude the pub trade.

    “Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose”, they say. Does your right to smoke in a public place end at my lungs?

    I don’t know…

  • James

    It would seem to me that if we accept for a moment that the Govt. has the right (or duty) to draft and enforce work safety legislation (which they do)…

    Just to clarify, I meant that they do in fact draft and enforce legislation of this kind, not that they necessarily have a “duty” to.

  • Gazaridis

    This is not a case of repression vs freedom. It is just a question of who does the repression. The non-smoker, or the smoker. Up until now, it was the smoker repressing those around them. From now on in Ireland, the shoe is on the other foot.

    whether it is actually just to enact authoritarian proscriptions on the acts of others who are, after all, in voluntary close proximity.

    Just or not, with the law or without these authoritarian prescriptions are going to take place – what changes his who has the upper hand. Previously, the smoker was voluntarily in close proximity to others, and was making an authoritarian prescription of his own. Of course the reply has always been “the non-smokers can always move”. Now, instead of the non-smokers being forced to move, it’s the smokers. Which I think is fair, as I don’t see why other people should have to suffer for my weakness in addiction.

  • James: Not surprisingly, I do not accept the state has any right whatsoever to interfere. Nor does it have any right to licence bars to begin with. These are all places in which voluntary social interactions take place. If you do not like a bar because it is smokey, go somewhere else (as I often do). Likewise, if you do not want to subject yourself to the (highly dubious) effects of second hand smoke, do not choose to work in a bar, or at least not in one which allows smoking.

    Just please do not think this is not authoritarianism in action, it is. It is the political system, a blunt instrument at best, proscribing voluntary social interactions. And in case you use the usual arguments, yes, I am also against laws against drug use and prostitution, all of which are private social acts.

    To be honest, if our political masters and the people who vote for them just stood up and admitted they are now participating in a system of ‘populist authoritarianism’, I would have more respect for them than I do now. Well, maybe not.

  • arrggg

    jesus gazaridis, what complete nonsence. do you know what repression actually means? to avoid someone smoking, just walk away. same thing if they stink of body oder or piss. how about of they wear really cheesy clothes that offend your taste? and they repressing you too? sorry but repression means using force to impose your will and not allowing the other person a social choice.

  • Gazaridis

    same thing if they stink of body oder or piss. how about of they wear really cheesy clothes that offend your taste? and they repressing you too?

    Body odour, cheesy clothes etc dont harm other people’s health. So no, theyre not. But breathing in other people’s smoke is detrimental to your health (if unsure of this, take a good deep puff and blow it in someone’s face). Smoking near non-smokers is repression, because by the very act of imposing your will (smoking) you are indeed using force against others.

    And under the ban, us smokers DO have a social choice – to take it outside.

  • James

    James: Not surprisingly, I do not accept the state has any right whatsoever to interfere.

    Agreed, ideally the market would be catering to both groups, through, smokers only, non-smokers only, and mixed venues. To some degree, it parallels the legislation disallowing discrimination against women regarding membership of golf clubs.

    And in case you use the usual arguments, yes, I am also against laws against drug use and prostitution, all of which are private social acts.

    True again. Unfortunately, I think you can guess the likelihood of the Irish Govt. staying out of the lives of citizens. They shut down illegal brothels and claim it’s a victory for law enforcement. Hell, we still have a blasphemy clause in our Constitution.

    Still, I hope to do some shooting later in the year with a friend (what little can be done here), and will in all probability be moving to the U.S. sometime in the future. Then again, maybe that won’t help!

  • Even if I accept the voodoo science about second hand smoke (which I do not), if you visit someone’s house and they smoke, should you have the right to force them to stop smoking? And if not, why not?

  • Greg

    The important thing is to put the decision in the hands of property owners. If the government ‘butts out’, there will still be people ordering you not to smoke, but these people will actually have the legitimate authority of ownership, and they will suffer the consequences (or reap the benefits) of their policy. I imagine most commercial businesses would remain non-smoking, but at least it would be their choice.

  • ernest young

    Goodness gracious, you must be breaking some law or another by posting that picture! are you sure it doesn’t break some Child Protection regulation, or some ‘Leading Astray’ law? it might even come under a Child Pornography heading.

    Naughty ‘ole you!!:-)

  • Gazaridis

    There is a difference between opening your property to anyone, and to invited individuals.

    As for the ‘leave it to the property owner’ argument, it is reasonable. However, by that same argument, it should be legal for someone to beat someone else (or even kill them) as it should be the owner’s discretion as to what can and can’t go on. While I agree with your sentiment Greg, Im afraid its taking it too far.

  • Frank P

    Ernest YoungGoodness gracious, you must be breaking some law or another by posting that picture! are you sure it doesn’t break some Child Protection regulation, or some ‘Leading Astray’ law? it might even come under a Child Pornography heading.

    Though you jest, you also have a point.

    Gabriel, as you exploited a child indirectly by publishing a picture that was taken by someone directly exploiting her, you conspire in abusing a child. Perhaps you would like to tell us where the picture originated? Of course, I should add, “You are not obliged to say anything ….”

  • However, by that same argument, it should be legal for someone to beat someone else (or even kill them) as it should be the owner’s discretion as to what can and can’t go on.

    What a ludicrous comparison!

    First off, there is no credible evidence whatsoever that ‘second-hand’ smoke is harmful and even if there were that does not invalidate the principle that market choice should be left to work as it will without government diktat. If enough people demand a smoke-free environment then the market will respond accordingly.

    Secondly, and even assuming that second-hand smoke is harmful (which it is not) it is a ‘harm’ the presence of which is readily detectable and thus easily avoided by the act of going to another (non-smoking) bar. The same cannot be said about someone lurking in the bar with malevolent intentions towards you.

    As always, people like Gaziridis invoke the bogus trade-off between freedom and health in the same way that people like him once assured us that there was a trade-off between freedom and prosperity.

  • Brock

    I don’t know what dream worlds you people inhabit, but there were NO non-smoking bars in New York that I ever found. Now many of them have now capitalized on open air terraces and roof-tops to have both smoking and non-smoking sections, and the non-smoking ones actually are smoke free (as opposed to smoke-not-as-much). I might add that the open-air terraces and roofs are actually much nicer to hang out at on a nice night.

    David, you state affirmatively that second hand smoke is not dangerous, but I cannot believe that and you know that you cannot prove it. I have seen many people go the way of the do-do thanks to their disgusting habit. I am glad that they cannot help shove me along now.

    Populist authoritarianism? Maybe. I don’t give a crap. My wife is allergic to cigarette smoke. Now we can actually go out and join our friends at lounges and bars. Best thing that has happened to New York in years, IMO.

    The smokers aren’t even too inconvenienced, and we we derive great benefit. They can step outside for a minute, and they do. Now they are the ones who have to move. Most of them (and I have friends who smoke) understand that this was the polite thing to do anyway when they were in someone’s home. Now its the polite thing to do in public as well.

    In a civil society not everyone gets everything they want. It just isn’t going to happen. We have to compromise when we are in public spaces. For the last few centuries the smokers have had the advantage, now the non-smokers do. That’s life.

    By the way, I’m for legalization of drugs and prostitution too – but not right next to me in the bar. Go home for that.

  • Frank P

    Having smoked on and off for years, until about 17 years ago, I knew for most of my life that it was detrimental to my health: my lungs heaved, my mouth was like a parrots cage in the morning and my clothes stank, which must have offended my wife, who has never smoked, and my children. But I did it nonetheless because it was a widespread social habit that involved mutual exchange of a small favour; part of the manners of the age; a device to aid acceptance in the milieu in which I moved. I was therefore behaving both stupidly and selfishly when I did it, Then in later years I discovered that tobacco was a pernicious killer, not just a debilitator. And I was even more weak and stupid because I carried on for a while after the medics produced the evidence to my satisfaction. I hadn’t died yet, so perhaps I was immune!

    Then one day I sat and watched a representative from a major tobacco company being interviewed on TV, trying to justify the business of his paymasters. He was lying to his back teeth, he was glib and he was arrogant. He was dressed by Savile Row, smooth as shit and twice as rancid. He knew full well that his trade did for 130,000 souls a year in Britain alone, God knows how many globally. He knew the suffering that it caused to all the loved ones connected with those premature deaths. He simply did not give a shit.

    I threw my last cigarette into the fireplace and vowed that I would never contribute a penny to their fat purses again. I never have since and I never again will.

    I repeat, as a smoker I was both stupid and selfish. I am ashamed that I did it. The money I spent on it could have been used for other things that my family deserved. Most of all I disrespected my own body, Natures most precious gift.

    Libertarianism or not, anything that is done by individuals, groups, governments or owners of public establishments to deprive the slimy fat corporate poisoners of their filthy lucre is good. Not to mention stemming the bonanza that the taxman collects in blood money from the evil trade.

    I applaud this blog’s efforts to encourage maximum freedom in this land and elsewhere. But please, that should not include the freedom for corporations to exploit the weak and stupid by enticing them into a habit that prematurely kills so many. Well done Ireland. I hope the experiment succeeds and that the feeble minded who think that they have the right to destroy their own health, the health of others through passive smoking, and burden their families and/or the state with the consequences are gradually herded into a small corner to temporarily exercise their peurile defiance and ‘freedom’ like pigs in their own shit, pending the collapse of the empires of their odious suppliers. But I fear those Empires have the resources to fight back. Gabriel, I am disappointed that you should use your manifest talents to assist them.

  • Jonathan L

    First they came for the gun owners, and I did nothing because I don’t own a gun.
    Next they banned smoking, which didn’t bother me because I have never smoked.
    Then they stopped us eating burgers, (in our own interests), and I ignored it because I much prefer steak.
    When they banned SUV’s it didn’t effect my ability to drive my car.
    Sooner or later they will come to my chosen vices and unless I speak up now, it will be too late.

  • Guy Herbert

    Frank P: “[...] anything that is done by individuals, groups, governments or owners of public establishments to deprive the slimy fat corporate poisoners of their filthy lucre is good.”

    I take it that’s a vote of support, too, for more state controls on alcohol, fast food, dietary supplements and herbal “medicines”, the many prescription and non-prescription drugs of dubious value, car sales and usage, salt, coffee… All to some degree addictive and potentially dangerous to the user and/or others, and a source of great wealth to to somebody. Maybe a state prescribed limit on profits on all these; maybe a ban on advertising them.

    It eludes me why the profit made by the manufacturer is relevant to the moral wrong. You sound like those policemen who tell us that drugs, porn, fraud, begging–whatever they currently want more powers concerning–make vast profits that are used to fund drugs, porn, etc (plus these days, terrorism). In real life, criminals generally do crime for the money, not in order to express their their criminal nature.

    ikewise businessmen in any particular industry will of course justify whatever their company does to stay in business, and if it is a big business they’ll be slick and wealthy. It’s certainly possible they don’t care about any evil they do, but that’s not the object of the exercise. How materially successful they are isn’t relevant, or an amateur serial murderer, who subsidizes his occasional torture sprees from a regular job, would be morally better than a professional contract killer.

  • Verity

    Frank P – “their fat purses”? Or did you mean the chancellor’s fat purse? The tobacco manufacturers don’t make very much off a pack of cigarettes. But even if they did, it is their right to market their product for whatever people will pay for it.

    I too gave up smoking years ago (60 a day). You will remember from your smoking days that the pleasure in a cigarette didn’t come from shivering outside in the cold and rain. It came from relaxing with a drink and talking. I find this mean-spirited, pursed lip, priggish attempt to wring small pleasures out of people’s lives quite contemptible.

    No one is obliged to work in a bar. And these days, when there are plenty of drinking and eating venues catering to non-smokers, no one is obliged to work in a bar that allows smoking.

    I’m with Perry. What is the government doing anyway, issuing licenses for activities on private premises? I suppose anyone who wants to cater to smokers could change the status of his bar from public house to private club? Would this work?

    And Frank, if people want to be weak and stupid, that is not your business. If they take pleasure in being weak and stupid, it is not the government’s business either, as long as they’re not infringing the rights of others; and smoking in their own homes or in a bar or restaurant that permits smoking, which others visit of their own free will, is infringing no one’s rights.

  • Greg

    I do find it interesting to consider government’s role in promoting non-smoking as an option for bars. In the 1980s a voluntary non-smoking policy at a bar would be ruinous, or so the conventional wisdom goes. Was the drive towards non-smoking a popular consumer movement that the government merely piggybacked on? Or did consumers just ‘get used to’ and conform to the government?

    I’m pretty sure that if government regulation on smoking was dropped now there would be market choice in bars, a reasonable mix of non-smoking and smoking venues. But without the initial regulation would we now be in that same situation, or would most venues be smoking? I don’t know.

    Similarly, while feminism and equality-flavoured racism are abhorrent to me as collectivist claptrap, without them would we still have ‘women in their place’ and segregated water fountains? Was there a path not taken for popular activism, that of individualist humanism over feminism and racialism? Could the agenda have been to ‘judge a man by the content of his character, and not the colour of his skin’, instead of ‘judging women and black men by their collective grievances’?

  • Andrew

    Brock,

    I find it difficult to believe there were no no-smoking bars in New York, although obviously that ship has now sailed. You’ll be glad to hear that there are no-smoking pubs in London. In fact, there is one 2 minutes from where I work. No government diktat, no use of force, no threats of hefty fines. Just good sense from the owners, seeing a gap in the market and exploiting it. That’s why I find it hard to believe that they didn’t exist in New York. It’s the capital of capitalism.

    As for you saying that you “can’t believe” that second-hand smoke isn’t dangerous, well that’s what you’ve been told to believe, isn’t it? Without wanting to go too far down the tinfoil hat route, do you not find it strange that the government of our time has been feeding this line about the dangers of passive smoking to us for over a decade, without a shred of evidence to back it up? And now they want to ban it? We’re hearing a lot about the dangers of fatty foods at the moment, aren’t we? It’s going to be wonderful to tuck into those government mandated salads in 10 years time, isn’t it?

    As a disclaimer, I’m not a smoker. I hate the habit. I find it vile and disgusting. I hate coming home from a pub and smelling of stale smoke. Although I have no evidence, I think it’s likely that passive smoking has a (small) effect on my health. And yet, in spite of all this, I still go to the pub, with it’s smoke and all. People take risks all the time. Government can’t stop people doing this. They just shift people from taking one type of risk to taking another. People need to fill their appetites for risk, or they feel unsatisfied with their lives. It’s not my business to tell other people what to do.

    Regards

  • Brock: In a civil society not everyone gets everything they want. It just isn’t going to happen. We have to compromise when we are in public spaces

    This is nothing to do with civil society, it is about laws and that means the state. Civil society means civil, not legal, interaction. It is not about public space, it is about private space. A bar or restaurant is created with private capital on private property, operated by a private owner. It is a business that puts private capital at risk. You as a customer are nothing more than an invited guest who may enter the property, or not, as you wish.

    Populist authoritarianism? Maybe. I don’t give a crap. My wife is allergic to cigarette smoke. Now we can actually go out and join our friends at lounges and bars. Best thing that has happened to New York in years, IMO.

    The fact you don’t give a crap about using force to make things created at other people’s expense more to your convenience makes you part of the majority, that is for sure. The way I see it you might as well be threatening the owners of these places with kidnap (imprisonment) yourself if they don’t do what you want. As you do not give a crap about the rights of others on the property of a third party, or the rights of the property owners themselves to decide, why should anyone give a crap about you and your wife?

  • Verity

    Re Perry’s post – Well said that man!

  • Dave

    What is the government doing anyway, issuing licenses for activities on private premises?

    Because they are Public Houses bound under a fairly ancient set of laws controlling them to be Public Houses – you know Verity, tradition? Why am I surprised to find you only like tradition when it co-incides with your interests???

    I suppose anyone who wants to cater to smokers could change the status of his bar from public house to private club? Would this work?

    Hmmm… actually an interesting idea – one which has legs possibly. Private Clubs have long been a way to get around parts of the standard licensing laws, so it might work here.

    From what I read, the Irish Law is appalling badly codified covering all sorts of other places including company cars.

    I must admit, as a non-smoker, I’m selfish in this. I did like living in California and being able to visit smoke free bars, and in the UK where practical I’ll stick to bars which have non-smoking areas.

    However, that’s not always a practical option. I do have friends who smoke – so what are the options here? Find new friends? Not go out together? I suspect that pubs will deal with it, if it becomes law in the UK.

    Is it a matter of personal Liberty? Difficult, probably not – unless there is talk of a complete ban. Is it reasonable to allow people to do anything they like in public places because they are free to do so on their own property. A pub is not “private” property so is a special case.

    Private smokers clubs might, in that case, be sensible.

  • Verity

    Dave – Oppressive laws, whether encrusted with tradition or newly minted 10 minutes ago by Toneboy, should go.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Smoking is a rather sore point, and the idea of second hand smoke being harmful muddies the waters. How about something else, like say… loud music?

    How would you guys feel if suddenly all your public, and even private spaces get bombarded with loud tasteless music(anything you don’t like)?

    Would you be willing to grant the state the power to assert its authority on these punks playing the music?

    If we take the extreme libertrarian view, the answer has to be no. Rather fortunately, that’s not the case.

    Come on, confess. How many people would be willing to allow themselves to be dictated over by these punks? After all, their fist never touched your nose!

    There has to be a line, a balance. The people of Ireland have drawn their own line. Let’s not get too huffed up and self righteous over their decision. It’s their choice. Those who can’t stand it aren’t being killed; they can still smoke, or if they really don’t like it, they can very well go to aoother country.

  • Guy Herbert

    Private Clubs have long been a way to get around parts of the standard licensing laws [...]

    That’s why it is being introduced in the name of the Great God Helfnsafey who is omnipresent, infallible and irresistable. Compare this glory in his name.

  • Frank P

    Verity,

    As you know I rarely disagree with you, moreover you have always been very polite when you have disssented with my rants (and even more polite when you have disagreed and not posted your dissent!) But now I must afford myself the dubious pleasure and trepidation of being on the wrong side of you in this debate.

    The profit that is made from one packet, multiplied by the myriad packets that are sold, is what makes the tidy sum. And it is the myriad packets sold that also ensures the numbers of cancer victims increase, according to the law of averages. As you can see, my plea was more mea culpa than authoritarian, more depressive than repressive. I have, throughout my non-smoking dotage, encouraged many friends to give up also and they have thanked me for it.

    The overwhelming majority of residual smokers want to give it up, why not assist them with a small slice of well meaning legislation? Is there any sane person left who really thinks that banning smoking on the underground was not only a good thing but a very successful experiment? And if popular demand forces government to legislate, surely that’s democracy in action? Is the only democracy that is acceptable to libertarians the democracy that always agrees with libertarians? And I did mention the taxman in the above – er – parable.

    The dog of democracy should comprise the head and torso as the the people and the government as the tail – as a steering mechanism and occasional arse-wiper. On this occasion in Eire the head has wagged the tail to rid the body politic of some of the clinging crap on its hairy posteria; which is as it should be. How more often is it the other way around?

    As for the universal extrapolation into banning all the other social evils that humanity adopts to harm itself, even my paranoia about statism won’t allow me to swallow that. I’m sure the oldest profession will survive for those who wish to pay to get their rocks off; and the second oldest professing – poncing (procuring and living off fresh meat for this ancient and honorable trade in human flesh) will be there to reap the rewards. As for McDonalds etc.etc. they seem quite resilient too; and if a bit of anti-libertarian pressure makes them adapt to more healthy ingredients, well … hmmm … a threat to liberty?

    Sir Walter has a lot to answer for. And encouraging my children and yours to shake off the oppressive pathetic slavery that emanates from a three inch tube of paper filled with an addictive vegatable – and the repetitive tic of lighting up and stylish brandishment of the stained fingers while polluting the air with noxious fumes, is surely a worthy aspiration. And it is everybody’s business, not just mine. Just as resisting criminal enterprise is everyboby’s business, not just the business of criminals and cops – the single seamless web of society, mentioned by old Lord Devlin in the gentle morality debates of yesteryear before the onset of brash Boomerpower.

    One of the most ironic duties that I ever had to perform while working for a hospital group in Central London was to find a suitable room in the brand new oncology block (a non-smoking zone as you can imagine) for the weeping friends and families of lung cancer patients to have a fag to help them through their grief when apprised of the death of their loved ones.

    And as for the other above commentators who extol the virtues of profit: accepting that even though I’ve never been good at accruing it, piss poor in fact, I rejoice for most others who are good at it, I have even benefitted indirectly as a result of others successfully achieving it. I’m all for profit, provided gross and evil exploitation is not involved, particularly when I may unwittingly have a stake in it.

    And I’m not going to be drawn into the illegal drugs argument, all that will do is open the floodgates for a tsunami of ganja gobbledegook and give the pathetic wretch Howard Marks, the amazingly surving embodiment of the harm that cannabis can wreak on the human body, another chance to advertise his (erstwhile?) trade. As for my idle ex-colleagues who want to throw the towel in against the drugs barons and hand over the trade to ‘legitimate’ drugs barons who are already doing very nicely thank on the dispensation of useless and sometimes psychologically damaging placebos, I could only use words that would not even be acceptable on Samizdata. Rather like the comparatively mild paragraphs herein, I guess.

    Verity, verity I say unto you …

  • Cobden Bright

    Anyone entering a smoker-friendly pub is taking an entirely free and voluntary decision to inhale passive smoke. They have given consent to smoke by entering another person’s property, knowing full well that smoke may be present due to the activities which take place on that property with the full consent of the owner. The non-smoker argument that they have any right to protection from inhaling smoke in such a situation is similar to walking into a massage parlour and then complaining about nudity, or entering a boxing ring and complaining when you start getting punched about the head.

    The moment that any landlord places a sign outside the door saying “Smoking takes place here – anyone entering must consent to be exposed to passive smoke”, then the pro-ban argument dissolves into hideous authoritarianism.

    Some people have expressed their like preference for no-smoking bars, and places with bans. Sorry, but your preferences are of no relevance whatsoever when deciding what other people can do on their own private property. And a public house, despite the name, is privately owned property – it is simply one open to the public. If you open your back garden to the public, should you be jailed for lighting up?

    One final point – the Telegraph mentions civil resistance by exploiting legal loopholes. Sod that – every freedom lover in Ireland should go to the nearest tobacconist, purchase the largest and most pungent cigar on offer, then walk into the nearest pub and light up immediately.

  • A_t

    Gazaridis ,

    “As for the ‘leave it to the property owner’ argument, it is reasonable. However, by that same argument, it should be legal for someone to beat someone else (or even kill them) as it should be the owner’s discretion as to what can and can’t go on. ”

    Well… there are some establishments (boxing gyms/rings) where beating someone else is perfectly permissible. I see nothing wrong with the idea in theory, provided it was clear to all that this was a “fight pub” & that anyone entering could be subject to a beating.

    Frank P,

    Are you with the govt. on their fatty food tax too then? Chocolate can be habit-forming… How much self-harm do you wish to prevent. I’d suggest banning mountaineering, & most motorsports too, as they pose a great danger to participants, & make various ‘evil’ corporations (holiday companies, manufacturers of ropes & outdoor gear) a lot of money. Perhaps ban all fast cars too, as the temptation they represent poses a danger to both their users and other people on the road. I realise it’s frustrating & soul-deadening to see people voluntarily destroying themselves, but provided they were informed of the risks involved in their behaviour, I think it’s better to let them make mistakes than to limit what people are allowed to do.

  • Guy Herbert

    I’d be sympathetic to arguments for banning smoking in genuinely public places–such as thoroughfares–rather than places to which the public may or may not be admitted, on the ground that it is a nuisance that can’t readily be interdicted by individual arrangements. (Likewise noise, emanating, from a car or dwelling into the highway.)

    What doesn’t wash with me is an argument based on doing (imagined or real) good to others regardless of their personal choices, or more bizarrely on preventing a benefit to a third party (the fat-cat topbacco-pusher). Either of those arguments does require you to distinguish what’s special about smoking. The Health and Safety approach does at least make that clear, but it is open to a different set of insane extensions once it applies to virtual risks.

  • Bolie Williams IV

    While I prefer to let market forces work, sometimes they don’t. I’m not sure there’s a market failure in the case of smoking v. non-smoking establishments.

    For sake of argument, I’ll divide the population of bar-hoppers into four groups. Smokers who must smoke in a bar, Smokers who would go to a Non-Smoking bar, Non-Smokers who will go into a smoky bar, and Non-Smokers who won’t.

    Of these four groups, three of them would go into a bar where smoking is allowed and three of them would go into a bar where no smoking is allowed. The problem is that two of the groups will prefer a smoking bar while only one group will prefer a non-smoking bar. The non-smokers who will go into a smoking bar may prefer a non-smoking bar, but if they want to hang out with any smokers, they’d go to a smoking bar.

    Depending on the relative sizes of the four groups, all bars may end up allowing smoking to get the most customers. Non-smoking bars may give up too much. Given the fact that, absent regulations, there are almost no non-smoking bars, I suspect that the first three groups dominate.

    Also, if everyone is free to smoke or not, only smokers inflict their choice on others. Smokers generate a stinky smell which is a nuisance to others. Non-smokers, on the other hand, don’t give of non-smoking odors. So part of the cost of smoking (the nuisance factor) is put off on anyone else around and not the smoker. To be fair, smokers should pay anyone around them a small fee if they want to smoke anywhere but their own property. Non-smokers could, of course, choose to waive the fee.

    Bolie IV

  • Verity

    Frank P – If something is legal, then companies and shareholders involved have a perfect right to try to maximise their returns on it. If tobacco companies wanted to charge £5 a pack, before tax, that would be between them and the smoker. I.e., not my business.

    You write: “The overwhelming majority of residual smokers want to give it up, why not assist them with a small slice of well meaning legislation?”

    This, coming from a frequent poster on a libertarian blog, boggles the mind. What’s more, I’m shocked and appalled. How on earth do you know the majority of people still smoking want to give it up? No, don’t quote surveys. People tell questioners what they think will make them look good and responsible in the questioner’s eyes. Why they care, I don’t know. Most people questioned will say, yes, they intend to give up; having tried to give up; have set a date for giving it up. They lie. They like smoking and intend to continue smoking under the belief that they’ll be one of the lucky ones. As an ex smoker and someone with many ex smoker friends, I know that notional health reasons for giving up don’t grip the road. I’ve never known anyone quit smoking because they might get emphysema 20 years down the pike. No.

    Second, “small slice of well meaning legislation”. No thanks. Surely you do not place your faith in politicians? Even your qualifier “a small slice” is, as you are well aware, unrealistic. You always seemed so stable and worldly-wise before, Frank …

    Finally, get the government out of the health business. This means keeping the NHS for trauma centres and very basic care for the sick who cannot afford private treatment. Privatise the rest, because that gets the government out of your lungs and heart and your liver and your gallbladder. This will mean better treatment for all.

    I think an interesting side effect of demolishing the keystone of the socialist state in Britain may well be that of causing the entire edifice to tumble down. In other words – I realise I’ve meandered way off topic – I don’t think socialism in its present form in Britain could survive without the authoritarian might and threat of the NHS.

  • Rob Read

    Now that we have got worked up about some harmless smoke, how-about banning aromatic hydrocarbons, as found in perfumes etc…

    ‘Tis only fair.

  • Frank P

    Verity

    I’d genuinely like to hear your response to the ‘democratic choice of the Irish people’ schtick and the apparent choice of libertarians to ignore democracy when it doesn’t suit ‘em query? Nobody has yet responded to those points. Libertarianism and pragmatism have to stride forward hand in hand, otherwise it becomes as loony as dogmatic socialism. As for the ‘how on earth do you know the majority of people want to give it up?’ question. An o-p-i-n-o-n based on talking to the hundreds and hundreds of smokers I’ve met in my life who have told me so – and bear in mind that I tried to retire from public life once and kept a country pub for four years before recoiling in horror from what should have been my idyll.

    After that, deciding to repent in the NHS, and being an avuncular old cove, I would often stop and chat to patients who were wheezing their way round their two laps of the cancer ward corridors, on their daily constitutional, prior to vacating their space (in both the hospital and this world) and looked as though they wanted to unload their despair on a stranger, rather than burden their own relatives. They made their choices – fair enough – but succumbing to peer pressures and the subtle marketing techniques (usually as school-kids) of pushers of poisonous inhalants didn’t deserve the dealth penalty. All the sad people I spoke to wished they had not smoked tobacco. And you shouldn’t be shocked or appalled at me differing from the blog dogma. What are old men for, if not to infuriate you with old fashioned mildly didactic opinions? Particularly when they’re mostly on your side. Is it red card offence here? If it is I’ll go quietly if you feel safer with onty those who concur 100%.

    I admire you for taking no prisoners, buddy, but at least give your supporters an inch or two of leeway when they demur a little from the message – and please don’t get the vapours. I know you only accept URLs from ‘good friends’ (in joke, folks), but as a friendly stranger I’d hate to think that a sincere difference of opinion would shock anyone on this segment of the blogosphere – least of all you. :-(
    (Please note the direction of the first parenthesis (what’s the singular of that?) F*** it! The first bracket! :-)

  • Brock

    Smoking is a nuissance which costs me. It seems I cannot demand that smokers pay for my dry cleaning. It seems that smokers are taking advantage of a system where they can smoke all their lives and then depend on Medicaid for health care when they get lung cancer. It seems that I could not hang out with my friends because the practical fact of the matters is that I cannot dictate to my friends that we only go to non-smoking bars.

    Smokers have been pushing these costs onto me their entire lives. They have taken liberties with my wallet and my health. As far as I am concerned, that is theft and assault.

    I will not stand for it. If they want to smoke – fine. But they can do where it does not bother me or mine. Its bad enough when I walk down the street and they blow their putrid stench into the air I have to breathe. An insult with every breath. I have no tolerance for it.

    Your speech cannot harm me.
    Your religion cannot touch me.
    Wether you’re gay or straight doesn’t matter to me.
    Your skin color does not offend or harm my eye.
    Your rights to a jury of your peers, open and fair trial, and all the rest do not harm or offend me or mine in any way.

    But smoking is not the same – it intrudes into my life and onto my space. I enjoy the libertarian themes of this website most of the time, but I will not countenance continued smoking.

  • Greg

    Brock – Here’s a good libertarian answer: dismantle state (ie: You) funded smoker-related health care. I’ll wager you’ll find people less inclined to smoke in the long-term if their precious ‘social safety net’ is removed.

    As far as ‘no tolerance’, you are advocating state coercion to stop the people you don’t tolerate. Why not petition to take it in your own hands if this is the big issue for you? There is no moral difference between state enforcement and citizen enforcement of such a thing except that you keep your hands clean if the state does it for you. It’s still ultimately you exerting violence over other people. Sometimes violence is merited. Is this such a case? Convince me and I’ll join your gang.

  • ernest young

    Verity,

    I don’t think socialism in its present form in Britain could survive without the authoritarian might and threat of the NHS.

    Now that’s an interesting line of thought, although I am not too sure about the threat bit.

    Frank P,

    Libertarianism and pragmatism have to stride forward hand in hand, otherwise it becomes as loony as dogmatic socialism

    I agree, as I mentioned in a recent comment, libertarianism is the ‘salt in the stew’, without which the stew would be a tasteless mess.

    As a self contained political philosophy, and without the pragmatism mentioned and some degree of communal responsibility, libertarianism is a non starter. Practised in it’s purest form, it is no more than a recipe for a self-centred and selfish life-style.

    And you shouldn’t be shocked or appalled at me differing from the blog dogma. What are old men for, if not to infuriate you with old fashioned mildly didactic opinions? Particularly when they’re mostly on your side. Is it red card offence here? If it is I’ll go quietly if you feel safer with only those who concur 100%.

    Don’t go – one sided debates are boring!

    If only smoking were regarded more as a case of terminal stupidity, than as some lost cause for the free thinkers among us, then maybe the filthy habit would eventually die of embarassment. Just greet your smoking friends with a jovial, ‘Hi Stupid’, or even ‘Hello Stinky’, they might just catch on. Don’t be surprised if you get thumped either… and yes, I used to smoke. Nothing worse than a convert eh!

  • Verity

    Ernest – When I referred to the “threat” of the NHS, I meant that the Brits see it as an all-powerful dispenser of health (or getting well). They are supplicants. The NHS can deny them treatment because, “We don’t have a bed”; “We’ve suspended your neurosurgeon for taking an extra helping of croutons for his soup, so your surgery for your brain tumour has been put back to the end of the queue”; “We’ve had to put off your prostrate surgery because this is a large immigrant area and they have swelled the queue beyond our predictions”; “Oh, we’ve been told not to give HRT treatment to women over 60 because it’s too costly”. Et cetera.

    That is what I meant by threat. The NHS is immensely powerful – what is more important, what causes more anxiety, than one’s own and one’s family’s health? – and I believe it is a critical tool for socialism. Were it dismantled, the socialists would not have nearly so much control over the citizenry. Right now, the state holds the power of life and death over citizens. Take that away and you have, to a large extent, disarmed them.

    Frank – I’m sure people who are dying of lung cancer wish they’d never smoked. If I stepped carelessly out into busy traffic and got hit by a car, I’d wish I’d looked both ways first. In my own experience, the vast majority of smokers will tell you they wish they didn’t smoke. That doesn’t really mean they want to quit. What they mean is, they wish they didn’t enjoy smoking so darn much that they have absolutely no intention of sacrificing the pleasure it gives them.

    I said somewhere above that I used to smoke 60 a day and I enjoyed it. No one could persuade me to give it up. Arguments about health were water off my back. I’d light up another cigarette while I was arguing the point. I didn’t even like being around people who didn’t smoke. I thought they were wimps. Then one day, I thought, “I don’t want to do this any more. Starting tomorrow, I’m a non-smoker.” And I never lit another cigarette. The pressure didn’t come from outside. I hadn’t even been considering quitting. But I just suddenly did it.

    BTW, it was totally painless.

  • Frank P

    Verity

    I agree with your analysis of the NHS as a tool of socialism, but unfortunately all governments since its inception have used it as such to threaten or pacify the hoi polloi according to the timing of the next election.

    But I agree that worst of all a very large contingent of its self-abusing or malingering ‘customers’ themselves, who have blatantly exploited it beyond even the worst fears of those that opposed it in the first place. And some would say also that some top Consultants who have used its facilities for their private practices rather more enthusiastically than when reluctantly and imperiously fulfilling their duties as NHS employees, also bear responsibility for some it’s major problems. Then we come to the great cutey-pharmicals whose motives as all you Samizdatistas point out are just .. well … making a few bob pursuing the honourable aim of healing the public by often useless medication. But I won’t go on about that, as I think I brushed on it above. Whatever the root causes of its increasing costs and its decreasing efficiency in some areas, you may as well get used to the fact that no goverment in the foreseeable future will replace the NHS with your vision of private healthcare. The best that is likely is for more devolvement and decentralisation. But even if that transpires, it will be because politicians can more easily deflect blame when the more tragic cock-ups, inefficiency or when occasional mass-murders occur. I share your frustration, Verity.

    However … having just joined in Britain’s favourite sport: knocking the NHS, I feel somewhat unclean and ungrateful, and would have perhaps been better engaged in expressing gratitude to the very caring team that very recently and very skilfully removed a nasty piece of malignant gristle from my withering hulk and blocked (one fervently hopes) the tendency for such pernicious little invaders to spread their seeds elsewhere in the unspeakable nooks and crannies of our creaking carriages. I’m not sure that result was good for the world, the country, for the NHS or even Samizdata, but perhaps you’ll forgive my very selfish reaction: “Sure as hell it was good for me!” Particularly after the anxiety of the preliminary probings.

    I’m glad your cold turkey was painless, Verity, let’s hope many others experience the same result – and the quicker the better, with or without the gee-up of Irish inspired statutes. Incidentally it must be the first time in recent Irish history that the Dail haven’t waited for Westminster to pass a law; photocopying it and immediately passing it over there – things must be looking up in Erin’s Isle. (Stand by for blasting!) :-)

  • Frank P

    Ernest Young

    Thanks for making me feel useful; and it was more of a rhetorical question than a threat, as you can see from the above. As it is the best interactive blog around at present I’ll probably keep on blogging, anyway. I have sod all better to do, in this world of age redundancy. Verity knows I love her and her works and that I can take an occasional roasting, from ‘good friends’ anyway, without too much flouncing. Still can’t figure why she’s living in France though and she’s keeping schtum about that.

  • ernest young

    Frank P,

    LOL surely even France is a step up!….whatever we may feel about their politics etc. at least the weather is better…..

    You don’t have to put up with ‘age redundancy’. I am not sure whether it is just England, or Europe in general, that sees the fifty five plus’s, as a burden.

    It does seem to be a very real waste of skills and experience, especially when so many ‘well-ripened’ folk would rather have the choice of continuing in paid employment, rather than being coerced into, the ever euphemistical, ‘early retirement’.

    Of course, it could have something to do with all those employment regulations that socialists are so famous for….

  • Frank P

    EY

    Well … it is about the new socialist cultural hegemony if that’s what you mean. They have to get rid of the old conservative die hards from the workplace and institutions, or they can’t finish the job. Not many of my generation have found their way to the blogs and even if they did, I’m not sure this m.o. works. We can but try.

    Short of using the tool depicted in the logo of this blog, I’m not all sure they can be stopped, but law and order is my bag, so that’s out as a solution. But it may have to come to that some day unless the next generation wakes up. Glad I won’t be around to see it.

  • ernest young

    Frank P,

    Just what is your generation?, be honest now!. :-)

    p.s. send it under plain wrapper, if you like….