Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Liberal Vision revisited, again

This time, a discussion of the relevance of libertarianism to the smoking ban, for the benefit of people who think of themselves as libertarian but still believe that the issue is about dirty air caused by smoking ('The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins'), rather than an invasion of personal autonomy, and the right of individuals and businesses to decide their own rules of engagement.

I haven't considered the issue of libertarianism enough to know whether I am a libertarian. But you don' t have to be a libertarian to realise that the only way the health authorities have got away with the smoking ban so far has been by convincing enough people that secondary smoke is a killer (even though there is no evidence to support the hypothesis that isn't distorted by compounding factors). And to convince people of something so unlikely, they must have been distorting the truth for some ulterior motive – which is not acceptable to me and many readers of blogs like this one. Government needs to be reliable, truthful and keep things in proportion. It fails on all counts with this legislation.


The Devil's Thadvocate said...

While it is a fair point that the only way health authorities SHOULD get away with the smoking ban is to convince enough people that SHS is a killer, I don't think they needed to go that far to do it. There are enough people naturally offended by smoking that many will support a ban without any evidence of death because they have firsthand experiences of the negative (though frequently non-lethal) effects of smoking on bystanders.

The Tobacco Control campaign to denormalize and vilify tobacco has been so successful that even people who support "smokers' rights" quibble about whether 50,000 deaths are either "caused by" or simply "correlated to" exposure to SHS and ignore the fact that combustion of ANY organic material in enclosed spaces has negative health risks and effects on bystanders. Whether or not the risks are lethal becomes irrelevant when mixed with that much emotion.

Smoking is just one of many ways to consume tobacco products, and tobacco is just one of many products that is smoked. Even if somehow tobacco use was completely eradicated, some percentage of people will find something else to smoke. If tobacco users choose smoke-free products, their life expentancy would increase while their reliance on pharmaceutical treatments would decrease.

Tobacco Harm Reduction can be financially beneficial to tobacco companies and devastating to drug companies--why else do you think anti-tobacco groups are so opposed it?

I tend to view things through a Libertarian lens, but in politics it has a pragmatic flaw: Once you start down the Libertarian path, you eventually become forced to admit that government really ought to do things like decriminalizing Heroin which turns off a lot of potential Libertarians. Good science frequently takes you to places that are unpopular with the voting majority.

Belinda said...

Devil's Thadvocate

I think the only reason people have come out of the woodwork to insult smokers is the vindication they get from anti-smoking health authorities 'showing' that smoke is lethal to bystanders. People used to respect each other's preferences a lot more than they do now. So without the second-hand smoke myth there wouldn't have been a perceived health benefit to the smoking ban.

Kin_Free said...

Devil, I'm afraid I do not see the situation from your point of view at all.

First of all your view panders to the tobacco control deception that smoke bans are far more popular than in reality. There is only a small minority who are vehement supporters of smoke bans and an increasing majority of them work directly or indirectly for 'tobacco control'. The overwhelming majority of commentators who support smoke bans on message boards have close connections with the tobacco control industry but try to give the impression that there is common support for anti-tobacco coercive measures. (confidence tricksters)

This is the 2nd most important goal of anti-tobacco - to convince law makers that they were right to take that giant leap into restricting individual liberty, convince non-smokers that they were in the 'right gang' and to isolate smokers. That names such as West and Bauld appeared on the comments section of the earlier Liberal vision article where ASH were comprehensively routed, and the absence of contributions from 'normal' non-smokers on message boards is indicative of their realisation that their false 'popularity' tactic is failing.

The 1st objective of the tobacco control industry of course, is to "foster the impression" (deceive people into the belief) that smokers are harming those around them, particularly 'the children'- very important! This is essentially to rebut the John Stewart Mill definition of individual freedom and role of the state that most civilised/ free countries have subscribed to for many years. It is essential that this impression (deception) is perpetuated in order to maintain smoke bans, so it is easy to understand why outwardly respectable, and apparently impartial, ‘experts’ will resort to ‘bending the truth’, ‘spin’, and sometimes outright lies, it will also be the basis of their eventual downfall.

While it is always possible, I have never seen anyone from the pro-choice community ‘quibble’ about any anti-smoker SHS correlation/causation claim! There is no correlation, never mind any possibility of causation, claiming otherwise is simply fraudulent, bearing in mind of course, that a number of studies find that SHS is beneficial, particularly for children (eg Boffetta et al).

I suspect that you have mistaken the SHS debate for the active smoker debate where there is indeed a dispute that hinges on the fact that ‘correlation’ does not prove ‘causation’ and that active smoker science has only ever shown correlation - not causation.

The fact that SHS ‘harm’ has been comprehensively outed as fallacious, and a wider audience is becoming aware of this, puts the primary smoking debate onto a whole new level.