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U.K. smoking ban is government overreach — and won’t work

Just yesterday, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s ‘smoke-free generation’ bill passed in the U.K.’s House of Commons.

If the bill is approved by the House of Lords, it becomes law across the U.K.

The bill bans the sale of tobacco products to anyone in the U.K. born after Jan. 1, 2009, with the legal age for the purchase of tobacco products increasing by one year every year until it eventually covers the entire population.

Many members of Sunak’s Conservative Party, including his predecessors, Liz Truss and Boris Johnson, have opposed the ban.

Despite claiming to be a conservative, Sunak is spearheading this ban which he described as the “biggest public health intervention in a generation.”

Now, we all know that there seems to be no obvious advantage for smoking.

The CDC states that ‘smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis.’

The Mayo Clinic states that “smoking causes lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also makes asthma worse. Other cancers. Smoking increases the risk of many types of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, throat (pharynx), esophagus, larynx, bladder, pancreas, kidney, cervix and some types of leukemia.”

The U.K.’s National Health Service states that “Smoking causes unattractive problems such as bad breath and stained teeth, and can also cause gum disease and damage your sense of taste. The most serious damage smoking causes in your mouth and throat is an increased risk of cancer in your lips, tongue, throat, voice box and oesophagus.”

Since the smoking causes such serious health hazards it would seem to make sense to discourage the habit.

But is this the right approach?

The U.K. government already has a law in place that makes it illegal to sell cigarettes to individuals under the age of 18. Hence individuals born after 2009 won’t be able to buy cigarettes anyway. The sales ban will be enforcable only three years later.

This seems rather odd and raises some open questions, especially since the stated goal is discouragment of smoking.

If smoking is the cause of myriad serious health complications why restrict the ban to only those born after 2009 why not ban sales it across ages?

Why wait three years, why not enforce the ban on sales of cigarettes immediately and for everybody?

The proposed law will compel shopkeepers to verify the age of potential customers before conducting the sale.

But there are methods to circumvent the demands made of the law and render it meaningless.

Those born before 2009 can sell or share cigarettes with those born after 2009 and do it discreetly within the privacy of their homes? How does the government prevent these actions?

Also how does the government prevent buying of cigarettes from shopkeepers via proxy?

Also, if people born before 2009 are allowed to buy, won’t the ‘passive smoking’ affect the people born after 2009?

Since the government trudging down that road of preventing health risks why stop at smoking, how about an alcohol ban too?

How about making the sale of alcohol illegal in a similiar fashion?

Perhaps enforce the ban immediately across all ages?

How about closing down all the pubs across Britain?

This would certainly resultin riots because Britons can give up respiring but not their millenias-long tradition of drinking. Some pubs in the U.K. claim to be more than a thousand years old.

Perhaps for the U.K. government, health hazards due to riots will be preferable than those due to alcoholism.

Why even stop at alcohol?

We know that deep fried food increases risk of heart-related diseases, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

How about a similiar ban on deep fried food — like the U.K.’s prized fish and chips?

That will bring an end to that.

But fried food overall is unhealthy, you see, so let’s ban shallow fried food, as well.

That will bring an end to bacon, sausages, bangers, Wimpy burgers, and that English favorite, fried bread.

How about banning processed food, too?

We know that boiled broccoli and cabbage are supposed to be health food.

Maybe those will be the only kinds of food permitted? It’s the same kind of food the Brits dined on before Christopher Columbus introduced them to the foods of the New World, and Marco Polo, Vasco da Gama, and Ferdinand Magellan introduced them to the spices of the East.

What about the overeating of health food?

That could cause health issues, as well.

How about regulating the portions that people can buy?

How about a government tracking system that maintains a log of what is being purchased and prevents overconsumption?

If the govenment wants to mitigate health risks why merely place restrictions on what is consumed or inhaled?

Mobile phones, motorbikes, cars, and even a pencil, etc. can all be dangerous if misused.

Neighbors who play loud music, mothers with no culinary skills, novels by Dan Brown, and utterances by AOC can all be hazardous to health of children all over the world.

Will the government ban them all? Perhaps they will send expeditions to put a stop to it.

“Oh, stop it with these paraniod scenarios. This is merely a ban on the sale of cigarettes. The impact will be gradual but it will ensure good health generations to come,” is what proponents of the bill will claim.

It must be remembered that all these actions of government overeach begin in small, seemingly innocuous, measures with claims that they will benefit the public.

The public won’t accept these unreasonable restrictions, so a measure such as the cigarette ban will only open up a black market. The profits from the black market will always be used to fund other criminal enterprises. This is exactly what happened in the U.S. during the Prohibition era.

We must also remember that behind every product there is an industry that supports livelihoods.

Should government be allowed to target any industry?

Today is the tobacco industry, tomorrow it could be the fast food industry, because the government can alway find a pretext to target and shut down private enterprises.

So why is Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leading this bill?

It is because both Sunak personally and his party are deeply unpopular and seem to be en route to a severe drubbing in the next national election.

Sunak is probably hoping that this gimmick will win the approval of parents whose underaged children are smokers.

Make no mistake, this is a blatant act of government inteference in the private lives of citizens.

We remember how governments interfered in the right to free movement and to earn a living during the COVID lockdowns and claimed it was for health and safety.

The Sunak government is also using health of citizen as a pretext to push his proposed ban.

If this ban is successful, subsequent governments will attempt measures that are more draconian.

They will claim that the mere prevention of sales of cigarettes is not enough to tackle the issue.

Perhaps the police will be authorized to forcibly enter homes and conduct arrests based on tips by nosy neighbors.

Perhaps a person born after 2009 be arrested merely for possession of cigarettes.

Does that mean we must allow the underaged to smoke themselves to death?

Emphatically not.

The job of discouraging underaged from smoking lies with parents, and perhaps teachers and guardians.

Once again, diktats will not work.

In fact, mandates cause individuals, particularly the underaged, to rebel.

The way to discourage smoking is to educate the public about the health hazards.

Perhaps a meeting with the local doctor will help. Perhaps meeting patients who suffer from smoking-related ailments will serve as a warning.

Parents must instill values in their children which prevent them from making choices that are hazardous to themselves and others around them. Usually parents leading by example are the most successful at instilling the right values for their children.

When the individual has achieved adulthood, the hope is that the values instilled by parents will continue to dictate choices and decisions.

The government has no business regulating or interfering personal consumption. The best it can do is advise.

In a free society, if individuals can vote, they must be allowed to consume what they desire.

As abhorrent as smoking is, the choice must be left to the adult.

The ban will result in the government encroaching upon personal space.

We must remember that once this government encroachment occurs, it is permanent.

Image: Pixabay / Pixabay License

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