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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

More on the nanny state

Having blogged yesterday on proposals by the Chief Medical Officer to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol, I was not really surprised to see him carry on the theme today with a proposal to extend the smoking ban to the home and private cars so as to protect children from second-hand smoke.

Clearly, the intentions are laudable but the practicalities of such a ban must be insurmountable, whilst the philosophy behind it is unacceptable. There has to be limits on the amount of influence the state has on one's private life. Otherwise we will all be under surveillance 24 hours a day, 1984-style. Visions of Winston Smith exercising his varicose vein in front of a two-way TV monitor as part of a compulsory exercise regime come to mind.

The other question is whether this suggestion is Welsh Government policy or not? Do they really want to act like Big Brother in the homes and vehicles of every smoker in Wales? What penalties will be invoked? Will defiance be grounds to take children into care? If so how will they meet the burgeoning cost of looked after children.

Dr Jewell is right when he says that the number of deaths from smoking in Wales is still too high at about 5,650 a year. He is also right that smoking costs the Welsh NHS around £386m a year, equivalent to £129 per person or 7% of total healthcare expenditure and that we need to reduce that expenditure and secure a healthier population. However, just because people "know that smoking is a dangerous habit, but choose to ignore the facts" is no reason to impose draconian and illiberal laws on them.

There are signs that education and other anti-smoking measures are starting to have an effect. We need to step up that work, especially in relation to the impact of second habnd smoke on children. What we do not need is the state in our living room and cars telling people how to live their lives.
£386m it costs the NHS is nothing compared to the taxes paid out on a pack of B&H .
In fact nicotine addicts are great benefactors of the state in the form of their taxes they pay.
They are also noble in that they generally die earlier leaving room for other people in hospitals.
Smoking is a counter to the ageing pop. hypothesis
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