Saturday, 18 December 2010

Wars on drugs and smoking don't work

First, Devil's Kitchen writes about Bob Ainsworth's call to consider the legalisation of drugs. I haven't read in much depth about the wider drugs situation, but I understand that since hard drugs were criminalised in the early 1970s, drug use has taken off exponentially, no doubt aggravated by huge escalations in unemployment in the following decade, and the chief beneficiaries have been the dealers. Big-time dealers are scary people: small-time dealers might get involved in order to send their sister to university or achieve some other benevolent outcome, and are probably the ones most likely to fall foul of the law.

Costs in treatment of drug addiction, and the chaos that ensues for many drug users and their families, are hard to quantify.

Despite the fact that drug use is now far worse than it was when drugs were legal, any suggestion that drugs should not be illegal is met with the objection that 'we can't condone drug use'. Same old, same old. The idea that prohibition actually works underlies this objection. It's exactly what hospital trusts say about smoking in hospital grounds, and is similarly irrelevant.

Overnight legalisation of all hard drugs may not be sensible, but ways must be found to prevent 'recreational' drugs being sourced through criminal gangs. Price mechanisms, for example, must be used with care: they keep getting it wrong with tobacco, assuming that large tax increases deter people from smoking, when they are as likely to fuel the market of contraband salesmen again. Whether the government will listen to sense is another issue. As DK points out, both coalition leaders were ready to take action when in opposition, but less eager now that they are in power – just as on the smoking issue.

Two posts from Chris Snowdon show the failure of the smoking ban to make any impact on the nation's health or its smoking rates. The Scottish 'heart attack miracle' not only clearly never occurred in the first place,  but there is no evidence of any sustained drop in heart events since 2006. The Irish are seen to smoke more heavily now than in 2004. Chris also shows in another post that a recent attempt to claim a similar heart attack miracle on the Isle of Man, using calculations based on a tiny population, is flawed and unreliable.

Prohibition doesn't work, and neither do smoking bans.

1 comment:

Unknown said...


The Noble Experiment didn't do anything except make gangs and criminals so powerful that they couldn't be stopped.

Human are contrary,tell them they can't and they want to do whatever they were told not to even more.

Smoking bans and drug prohibition go against man's nature.

People like drugs doesn't matter if it's nicotine,caffeine,alcohol or something much harder than that.

I hope someday people will begin to see reason and leave the adults alone to make their own decisions.