Forgive us our trespasses: The moral case
for choice and responsibility

Last week the Royal Society for Public Health in its ingenious wisdom decided it would be a fabulous idea not just to ban smoking inside pubs, but pub gardens, as well. Not content with that, though, it would also like to ban smoking in al fresco eating restaurants, parks and outside gates. This does beg the question, when smokers go outside, where exactly would the Society like them to smoke? You can read all about their plans here.

The plan represents a nanny-statist lobby which would rather we were all protected in multiple layers of bubble wrap, only eating food they have approved as healthy, without a touch of alcohol. It’s about imposing the lobbyists view of what they deem to be the common good, where they can decide what goes into our bodies, what we eat, what we drink, as well as where we can eat and drink certain items

Sadly this vision, essentially an extension of prison regimes to wider society, ignores that we are all individuals who can make rational choices, and even if we don’t make rational choices, it is our personal responsibility to deal with the effect of our own actions.  Furthermore, it is deeply insulting that just because of a lifestyle choice, groups like the Royal Society for Public Health are treating smokers like social pariahs. 

This is a patently absurd position. For instance, I don’t like the fact that Facebook keeps changing its layout with all the rationality demonstrated of a five year old kid high on Hariboor that every five seconds I turn on the TV or Radio I hear the song Happy. However, just because I don’t like something or even if I think it harms people, I’m not going to ban it. That’s because to do so would be imposing my own worldview on an individual who has their own body, their own mind and is therefore capable of making their own choices, without interference frothe state. 

Furthermore, people do stupid things every day. People run through red lights sometime to tragic effect, cars crash, people cause fires by using straighteners for too long and give themselves food poisoning from their own cooking. The answer to this is not to have the state ban people from walking, driving cars, using straighteners or cooking. 

Neither, then, should we try to ban smokers from any public areas, just because after weighing up the risks and pleasures to them of cigarettes to them, they have decided to smoke. We’ve already gone too far, interfering in the free market, whilst helping smugglers with the tobacco display ban, and causing potentially irreparable damage to the Great British pub by banning smoking in all licensed premises, all to try and stop individuals from making their own choice to smoke.

At the same time, we are treating other individuals like idiots, by thinking that they are so irresponsible that once they see a cigarette anywhere near them, they will start running to the nearest corner shop to buy a packet of cigarettes, plainly packaged, of courseWell it’s been hard, but despite often being around people who smoke, I’ve somehow resisted this urge. 

So I’m delighted to say that, in response to the growing attempts to tell people what they can and cannot smoke, vape, drink and eat, that Conservatives for Liberty will be holding a lobby evening of parliament called Forgive us our Trespasses: The moral case for choice and responsibility. It takes place on Wednesday, November 25, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, and for those who attend, you will have the chance to hear from seven MPs and peers, outlining their belief in individual choice. 

The lobby will firmly defend the principle of freedom of choice which, as a Conservative who believes very strongly in liberty, I believe leads to the greatest prosperity for all. The lobby will defend freedom of choice by arguing that adults should be free to weigh pleasure and risk and decide for themselves when it comes to products such as cigarettes, e-cigarettes, alcohol, and fatty or sugary foods.

If, like me, you want to be a free-thinking individual and not a slave having your decisions dictated to you by the state based on crazy suggestions like those from the Royal Society for Public Health, put Wednesday, November 25, into your diary. And please do email me any questions you have about the lobby to me at


  1. John Rennie says:

    This is a very thought provoking article. The thoughts provoked in me are that the Royal Society for Public Health has not actually banned anything yet so it’s a bit hyperbolic to talk about ‘prison regimes’ being set up as is bans on ‘people from walking, driving cars, using straighteners or cooking’ . Let’s wait for concrete banning proposals from governments and councils.
    The smoking ban was implemented to prevent the statistically proven harms of passive smoking to pub workers (who are entitled to a safe working environment, the same as we all are). The other restrictions on tobacco are more open to a libertarian critique as the only harms suffered are to the purchasers of tobacco products. Even then, this is complicated by the highly addictive nature of tobacco and the proven reduction in tobacco consumption of the restrictions on advertising.
    Now, I disagree with the extreme libertarian outlook as I think there are some restrictions on out freedoms that produce more benefits than harms. Excuse me while I construct my beautifully crafted straw man, but I assume you are not suggesting a society with no restrictions on personal freedoms ie no speed limits (or red lights) as we are all rational actors capable of weighing up the risks of a car crash. That being the case, then the state does have a duty to impose restrictions and the only argument is how far should it go. I welcome rational criticism of each restriction and the onus should be on the people wishing to restrict freedom to prove their case, rather than the rest of us having to prove the lack of harm.

  2. mary smoker says:

    Why not give every smoker a patch they have to wear on the outside of their clothes, every time they go out they can be spotted, pointed out, abused, blamed for mass murder and generally be treated as filth. Non Human. Less than others. Yes?
    I have been reading ASH propaganda. Yes they would approve.

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  4. Who is paying John Rennie to spout this rubbish. There is no scientific evidence, statistical or otherwise ,that SHS is in any way harmful to anyone

    In fact there is little or no empirical evidence associating active smoking with any disease

    Epidemiology is pretend science

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