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 Haribo, or 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 from the 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 course. Well 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 firstname.lastname@example.org