So What If Hitler Was an Anti-Smoker?

In a brief BMJ article, George Davey Smith describes Nazi Germany's pioneering campaigns against smoking, drinking, overeating, and other unhealthy habits. (Robert N. Proctor's 1999 book The Nazi War on Cancer explores this topic in more detail.) "It may seem paradoxical that the robust identification of one of the most important environmental causes of disease of the 20th century occurred in a totalitarian state," Smith writes, referring to Nazi research on the link between smoking and lung cancer.

In fact, the Nazis' focus on the threats that risky habits pose to "public health" makes perfect sense in light of their collectivist ideology. "Brother national socialist," said one bit of Nazi propaganda, "do you know that your Führer is against smoking and thinks that every German is responsible to the whole people for all his deeds and missions, and does not have the right to damage his body with drugs?"

Smith adds: "Clearly there were considerable links between the promotion of particular lifestyles and the racial hygiene movement. Tobacco and alcohol were seen as 'genetic poisons,' leading to degeneration of the German people."

The point, I hasten to add, is not that today's "public health" paternalists are Nazis. I am not suggesting that everyone who hates smoking is just like Hitler. But there is an unmistakable totalitarian logic to the notion that the government has a responsibility to promote "public health" by preventing us from engaging in activities that might lead to disease or injury. The implication is that we all have a duty to the collective to be as healthy as we can be, an idea the Nazis embraced but one that Americans ought to find troubling.

[Thanks to Jeff Schaler for the link.]

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    The Nazi stance on public health is one of many things I first learned about from Lemmy of Motorhead. That, and evidently you can be killed by death.

    True.

  • drf||

    wow! that's gotta be a record: goodwin's law right in the immediate posting!

    does anybody remember the mel brooks remake of "to be or not to be" where col erhardt (charles durning) says his line about not trusting people who don't drink or smoke?
    "like our fuehrer?"
    "jaaas... NOOOOOOOO!!!!!"

    the public health idiots need to eat right, exercise, and take the pain of losing the weight. you're gonna taste the pain at some point in life. it's just a question if you want to control when as best you can.

    so there.

  • ||

    You will jog for the master race.

  • ||

    But it's OK if a company wants to fire people who smoke or drink because it might reduce productivity or drive up health care costs?

  • ||

    I gather Jacob isn't too fond of the President's Council on Physical Fitness.

  • ||

    "The implication is that we all have a duty to the collective to be as healthy as we can be, an idea the Nazis embraced but one that Americans ought to find troubling"

    "But there is an unmistakable totalitarian logic to the notion that the government has a responsibility to promote "public health" by preventing us from engaging in activities that might lead to disease or injury."

    Well, if some millionare wants to smoke and drink himself into oblivion, that's ok, since presumably he'll be able to pay for his medical bills down the line resulting from his vices. But the average person, when treating his body like shit, ultimately makes everyone else pay for his health care costs in the form of higher insurance rates or higher taxes. Therefore, what's wrong with discouraging people from smoking? God forbid people be healthier and we have lower health care costs...

  • ||

    Kein Rauchen macht frei.

  • ||

    "You will jog for the master race."

    Quote of the week... :D

  • ||

    "...does not have the right to damage his body with drugs..."

    I don't smoke, and am in fact allergic to tobacco. However on occasion I go and buy a pack of Newports, some rum, and a Whopper, then find someone and engage in unprotected sex. Usually right after having seen one of those "Truth" ads. Public health paternalists actually are Nazis.

  • Warren||

    I will say it. Government regulation designed to manipulate individual behavior, for the stated propose of increasing the "public health", is Fascist.

  • ||

    Furthermore, smoking bans as in NY and CA--�the best example of the government "legislating public health"--�are not really about preventing Americans from damaging their own bodies, but about preventing them from damaging the bodies of those around them (or at least repulsing everyone around them who doesn't smoke).

    Smoking bans aren't about taking away the rights of the 25% of Americans who smoke, they are about protecting the rights of the 75% of Americans who do not.

    It's not about public health, it's about public rights.

  • ||

    The Holocaust wasn't about taking away the rights of the 25% of Germans who were Jewish/Gypsy/gay/rey=tarded, they are about protecting the rights of the 75% of Germans who were not.

  • ||

    I am holding a handful of cigars high in the air:

    "FROM MY COLD DEAD HAND!!!!!"

  • ||

    Yeah, that was a cheap shot, but so ridiculously easy. As I said public health paternalists actually are Nazis.

  • ||

    So Jews, by being Jews, impose on the Aryans around them in the same manner as a guy blowing smoke in the direction of my 2 year old daughter?

    Why don't you take another run at that, Junyo.

  • ||

    Therefore, what's wrong with discouraging people from smoking? God forbid people be healthier and we have lower health care costs...

    What's wrong with it is that if we had a proper market-based system of payments for health care, the costs would be higher for some individuals, lower for others. That would be a good thing, making people consider their health-harming actions more carefully. But because "We, as a Society" find it desirable that all people have access to health care, we spread those costs out. I'd rather pay cash for my doctor's visits (I've had a total of one in the last 9 years) and save up to finance my eventual decrepitude than pay for everyone else's hypochondria and irresponsible living now.

    Why can't we just pay cash for routine stuff, while taking out lower-cost, "medical catastrophe" insurance instead of feeding the bureaucratic, bloated medical insurance system as it stands now? It's not really "insurance" right now, anyway.

  • ||

    Guav, your argument falls on deaf ears. Most people here believe in the right to do whatever you want wherever you want with no regard for the effects on others.

    They might argue that it should be up to barowners and restauranteurs to decide if their places will be smoke-free or not. But if that were the case, they'd all opt for a SMOKING environment in order to attract more people. "so what?", the "libertoids" might say "so be it."

    Well I say, it's better that the minority be weaned from smoking forcefully than the majority barred from going out without breathing in toxic fumes.

    It's just like anti-segregation laws. While storeowners should be allowed to choose who they want to serve, they just shouldn't be allowed to choose on the basis of race, PERIOD. That may not be pure libertarianism, but so fucking be it.

  • ||

    "What's wrong with it is that if we had a proper market-based system of payments for health care, the costs would be higher for some individuals, lower for others"

    While in theory that's a good idea, the fact is that most people can't afford the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars of health care that they may potentially need after getting emphesema or lung cancer. Are we just gonna let them die?

    I think a better solution would be preventing them from smoking in the first place, however that may be.

  • Jeff||

    Ve have vays of making you healthy.

    Sgt. Schultz's passion for strudel must have been frowned upon.

  • ||

    And before I'm labeled a "fascist", remember that I'm not trying to force you to pay for MY bad choices.

  • ||

    Joe's and Andy's points might be well taken if there was credible scientific evidence that "secondhand" smoke actually causes cancer or any other disease for that matter.

    A nuisance? Yes, to many people. A proven health hazard requiring unelected public health officials controlling by fiat? Preposterous.

    (Please, exclude the David Kessler antismoking jihad studies of the Clinton years, they make undergrad level statistics distortions in order to advance a preselected conclusion.)

  • ||

    Can we make the distinction between prohibiting an unhealthy behavior like smoking, and actively trying to discourage people from it? Just because the Nazis were crazy racists doesn't mean every single thing they did was automatically evil. Promoting a healthy lifestyle may not be a basic function of government, but it seems to me relatively harmless, possibly beneficial and not at all expensive.

  • ||

    "It's just like anti-segregation laws. While storeowners should be allowed to choose who they want to serve, they just shouldn't be allowed to choose on the basis of race, PERIOD."

    So preventing people from discrimination based on a trait is just like mandating discrimination based on a trait.

    and they say Orwellian newspeak is the province of the right.

  • ||

    "But if that were the case, they'd all opt for a SMOKING environment in order to attract more people."

    Where did you get that information from? Maybe it's just the crowd I hang out with, but at least based on my experience you're very much mistaken - there's most definitely a market for non-smoking bars. I wouldn't expect most bars to go non-smoking, but non-smokers would certainly have options (and in my experience they generally do now, even where smoking in bars is still legal).

  • ||

    Call me snake,

    Give me a fucking break. I can't believe you'd be so disingenuous to suggest that second-hand smoke isn't bad for people.

    Even if there's no "evidence", it's not a huge leap to go from "first-hand smoke is harmful" (which is PROVEN) to "second-hand smoke is harmful.

    I swear, people like this blubbering moron give a bad name to libertarians.

  • ||

    "Smoking bans aren't about taking away the rights of the 25% of Americans who smoke, they are about protecting the rights of the 75% of Americans who do not."

    Ahhh... the joys of tyranny of the majority, right?

    "It's not about public health, it's about public rights."

    What a load of totalitarian shit! The "public" is not some hive entity that makes makes a decision as one being. It is composed of a multitude of people, each with their own wants, needs, tastes, and desires. The minute you start using the power of the state to meddle in people's lives in the name of "the needs of the many" (fuck you Gene Roddenberry), you cross the line from maternalistic nag to jackbooted tyrannt no matter how well intention YOU think you are.

    What else should we ban in the name of "public rights," hmmm? What other majoritarian tyrannys should be levied upon individuals to make society attain some imagined level of physical perfection (or to cut the costs of health care)?

  • ||

    It seems that andy's postings are getting a lot of people worked up. I think he should be prohibited from posting on the internet as he is causing a lot of high blood pressure, which is leading to greater health care costs for all of us.

  • ||

    Akira,

    "Public rights" is taken to mean the rights of society in aggragate.

    I'm not saying people shouldn't be allowed to smoke. They just shouldn't bitch when they have to pay $10 a pack to pay for their health care down the road.

  • ||

    "It seems that andy's postings are getting a lot of people worked up. I think he should be prohibited from posting on the internet as he is causing a lot of high blood pressure, which is leading to greater health care costs for all of us."

    LOL, sorry, I'll just agree with you from now on!

  • ||

    andy,

    So who gets to decide what the next great threat to public health, or societal stability is, that we should be "weaned from forcefully?"

  • ||

    Andy:

    You could make the case that "secondhand-smoke-kills" if most non-smokers lived in a constant fog of tobacco smoke and they developed fatal lung problems. However, they don't.

  • ||

    db, I'm not sure there's many others...

    Smoking is pretty unique in its ability to harm those other than the user (not to mention the ultimate costs of smoking).

  • ||

    Andy,

    Even if this person isn't a libertarian, is this an example of a "blubbering moron"?:

    The article [a 1992 issue of Science] discusses a 1992 report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claiming to have confirmed scientifically that environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) causes 3060 lung cancer deaths annually in the United States. A number of scientists and I have criticized this conclusion for a variety of reasons that are well summarized in last month's Federal Court decision concerning EPA's report on ETS (1); the decision notes how the agency disregarded the law, due process, its own guidelines, and internal dissent; used advisory committees populated by its own clients; selectively manipulated and ranked data; disregarded biases and confounders; improvised ad hoc methods of analysis; and flaunted statistical standards to reach the imaginary support of a preconceived position that the agency had publicized some years earlier. The transparent evidence of the Court's decision conveys a moral force that many find deeply uncomfortable, especially since EPA has a long record of weaving its own kind of science to fit favored policies (2).

    If legitimate doubts about the Court's conclusions are harbored, it would be of value to open a debate about the facts.


    Gio Batta Gori
    Health Policy Center,
    Bethesda, MD 20816-1016, USA

  • ||

    andy, While in theory that's a good idea, the fact is that most people can't afford the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars of health care that they may potentially need after getting emphesema or lung cancer. Are we just gonna let them die?

    You obviously missed the part of my post where I suggested "medical catastrophe" insurance. Such insurance would be of a considerably lower cost than the "insurance" we now buy, which is essentially a private group-financed prescription drug plan.

  • ||

    "Joe's and Andy's points might be well taken if there was credible scientific evidence that "secondhand" smoke actually causes cancer or any other disease for that matter.

    A nuisance? Yes, to many people. A proven health hazard requiring unelected public health officials controlling by fiat? Preposterous."

    Let's say, for the sake of argument, that inhaling other people's smoke doesn't effect your health.

    By snake's reasoning, my right to swing my fist ends not at your nose. It ends when I hit your nose HARD ENOUGH to cause you physical harm, rather than simply being a nuisance. Got it.

  • ||

    I'm sorry, what exactly are the public rights when on private property (such as, say, a place of business?)

    Additionally, Mr. Joe sir, if you're taking your 2-year-old to my bar, you get what you deserve.

    The problem with nonsmoking bars is that they're in the end only accomodating to people like Andy... and thus not much patronized.

  • ||

    db,

    "You obviously missed the part of my post where I suggested "medical catastrophe" insurance. Such insurance would be of a considerably lower cost than the "insurance" we now buy, which is essentially a private group-financed prescription drug plan."

    Not much argument from me there. The only thing is that if we minimized the number of smokers, that "catastrophe" insurance would cost even less.

    I mean, really... Do the benefits of nicotine use come anywhere close to its harmful effects?
    Would society be that bad a place if no one smoked? It's just like cocaine. Extremely costly and not even that much fun- not that i'd know... ;)

  • ||

    Oh, and by the way, my grandfather died of a heart attack brought on by emphysema probably exacerbated by my grandmother's smoking. My grandmother died years later of lung cancer.

    They both made their own choices, and died for them. They made bad decisions and the consequences caught up with them.

    I'd rather see the incredible resources that are spent on convincing teens that "tobacco is whacko", and on enforcement of public smoking bans be focused on finding a cure for lung cancer.

  • ||

    Akira, Junyo, etc...

    I'm not talking about making cigarettes illegal.

    I think cigarettes should be legal, I think alcohol should be legal, and I think marijuana and most other drugs should be legal. I think people should be able to partake of these substances.

    What I DO have a problem with is anyone who does any of those things forcing those around them to do it also. This is not a problem with alcohol--I can obviously go to a bar and choose whether or not I want to drink. Nobody is forcing their choices on me.

    Likewise for heroin, coke and most other drugs. If someone is snorting blow in the bathroom, it doesn't go up my nose.

    Cigarettes (and pot) are different in that they effect everyone around them. If I go to a bar I can choose whether or not I want to drink, but I am forced to smoke whether I want to or not. Smokers can go outside to have a cigarette. I can't go outside to breathe.

    Smoking cigarettes or weed (or to be extreme, crack) indoors in enclosed spaces FORCES YOUR CHOICES onto other people, and it is THIS that I have a problem with. Your rights end where another person's rights begin.

    This is not "tyranny."

    I shouldn't have to explain respect for others and common courtesy to adults.

  • ||

    I should note that well-informed consumers are always better, especially in this context. I am not opposed to informing teens of the dangers of smoking, simply against the moronic ways in which it is attempted, and the fact that the government is doing it, rather than a private entity.

    But a cure for cancer is way superior to the government's meddling in my life.

  • ||

    I am an individual (property owner). I have the right to decide what chemicals go into my body (what gets built on my property). Ergo, I also have the right to decide that I don't want certain chemicals to be put into my body (certain types of buildings to be built on my property).

    People who smoke in enclosed public places are coercing me to allow chemicals I don't want to be put into my body (People at higher elevations who discharge water downhill are forcing me to have a giant puddle on my property). By the way, folks, if you discharge water from your property into a street, and it thence floods my property, you are still creating a nuisance on my property and are subject to enforcement actions. The "I'm exhaling to the public air" excuse is unsupportable.

    Not only do I have the right to decide what goes into my body (to decide what happens on my property), but the governemnt has an affirmative duty to prevent other people from intruding on my bodily integrity (tresspassing on my property).

    And no, snake, I don't have to prove to you that I have a good reason for not wanting to breath second hand smoke (to not have my property flooded). It is mine, I will do what I please with it, and you have no right to intrude on me.

  • ||

    And if you're going to argue that you should be able to force others to breathe secondhand smoke, then you might as well be arguing that there should be no laws banning driving while drunk.

    Is legislating where and when a person can drink not also an example of this same "tyrannical" concern for the public's health and well-being?

    What's the difference, really?

  • ||

    Smoking cigarettes or weed (or to be extreme, crack) indoors in enclosed spaces FORCES YOUR CHOICES onto other people, and it is THIS that I have a problem with. Your rights end where another person's rights begin.

    That's one of the main reasons I don't frequent crack houses...

    Whose "forcing" me to breathe second-hand crack fumes when I choose to go to a crack house?

  • ||

    Smoking cigarettes or weed (or to be extreme, crack) indoors in enclosed spaces FORCES YOUR CHOICES onto other people, and it is THIS that I have a problem with. Your rights end where another person's rights begin.

    That's one of the main reasons I don't frequent crack houses...

    Who's "forcing" me to breathe second-hand crack fumes when I choose to go to a crack house?

  • ||

    And I agree with Joe.

    I don't have to prove that your cigarette smoke can kill me.

    All I have to say is that it makes me cough, makes me eyes sting, and makes me smell like shit.

    Asking you not to piss on my leg isn't infringing on your right to urinate, it's asking you to do it somewhere where it doesn't effect me.

  • ||

    "So Jews, by being Jews, impose on the Aryans around them in the same manner as a guy blowing smoke in the direction of my 2 year old daughter?"

    Actually, since there's not a direct cause and effect (exactly how many inhaled smoke particles will assure that you daughter gets cancer/heart disease/smokers cough) and the fact that you can always remove your daughter from the smoke filled area, the risk run is that her chances of getting a disease that other lifestyle choices, genetics, or other environmental factors may have already predisposed her for is marginlly increased. It's probably lower than the chance of the Aryan gene pool being compromised by a high volume of Jews that get to gaze lewdly at young Aryan girls. Or aren't the Germans allowed to keep their cultural/ethnic identities intact?

    Further, it actually was argued by the Nazis as a health issue. According to medical ethicist Alan Wells, "Adolf Hitler spoke of Germany as a body with himself as the doctor...He wanted to make Germany 'healthy' by eliminating diseased, unhealthy parts of the body. At first this meant killing the disabled. But because the Nazis also believed that Jews possessed 'bad' genes, they, too, came to be portrayed by public health 'experts' and 'scientists' as a threat to racial purity and a healthy nation."

    "People who smoke in enclosed public places are coercing me to allow chemicals I don't want to be put into my body..."

    Well unless the also forced you to go to that space they merely presented the opportunity for those chemicals to be introduced. You assisted by willing choosing to be there, rather than say, the top of a mountain in the Rockies, with it's attendant clean air, but a woeful lack of beer, ambiance, and cute waitresses.

    Again, public health paternalists actually are Nazis.

  • ||

    Andy, Joe, Guav--

    Do you think it should also be forbidden to use perfumed soap or shampoo in an indoor situation? Right now, after all, I am "forcing" my colleagues to breathe the vanilla fumes wafting off of my hair. What if they don't like the smell of vanilla?

    I don't use hairspray, but if I did, even the "unscented" varieties have a very noticeable scent. What about hair products in an indoor setting?

  • ||

    Must learn to preview...

  • ||

    Thank you, Guav and Joe.

    Asking people to go outside to smoke isn't asking too much, i don't think.

    Up here in Michigan, the excuse is "But it's too cold!"

    So quit smoking... or move to florida.

  • ||

    Now you're splittin' hairs, Jennifer.

    I haven't met a female hair product that I haven't liked, or at least one that was so offensive I couldn't stand it :)

  • ||

    db, a crack house is an establishment for the smoking of crack.

    A bar is an establishment for the drinking of alcohol.

    You can smoke at a bar in the same way that you can drink at a crackhouse, I suppose. However, the vast overwhelming majority of people don't go to crackhouses to socialize or to drink alcohol, they go to buy and smoke crack, specifically.

    Likewise, most people who go to bars go there predominantly to socialize and to drink, and only a fraction of those people choose to smoke at the same time.

    So by saying that I can just "choose" to not go to a bar, while technically correct, is akin to telling me that if I don't want to smoke, I should just CHOOSE to not socialize or drink outside the confines of my own home.

    Wow, great choice: Breathe my shit or stay home.

  • ||

    Andy--
    No, I'm not splitting hairs. Since the "secondhand smoke is dangerous" studies have been debunked, y'all's argument has now boiled down to "I shouldn't have to smell a scent I find aesthetically unpleasing."

  • ||

    "People who smoke in enclosed public places..."

    I was under the impression this conversation mostly concerned smoking in bars. At least that seems to be where most people are going with it.

    "By snake's reasoning, my right to swing my fist ends not at your nose. It ends when I hit your nose HARD ENOUGH to cause you physical harm, rather than simply being a nuisance. Got it."

    That's a very interesting interpretation of the word nuisance. If we're accepting for the moment that second-hand smoke isn't significantly harmful, being around someone who makes the air (and your shirt, and your hair, etc.) stink is a hell of a lot different than being around someone who hits you in the face, even if they don't leave a bruise. If we take the notion of nuisance in the opposite absurd extreme as you have, I could argue that since second-hand smoke is a nuisance, so are people who wear too much perfume, people who fart, people who are obnoxiously loud, and people who are just plain ugly.

  • ||

    So by saying that I can just "choose" to not go to a bar, while technically correct, is akin to telling me that if I don't want to smoke, I should just CHOOSE to not socialize or drink outside the confines of my own home.

    And the fundamental difference between that viewpoint and 'I don't believe in unlawing smoking, but I'm okay with smoking bans' is what, precisely?

  • ||

    "Or aren't the Germans allowed to keep their cultural/ethnic identities intact?"

    Individuals Germans are not allowed to decided what other peoplel's genetic and cultural traits would be. Parents, on the other hand, are allowed to determine what substances are put into their children's bodies.

    I don't really give a crap if you think the decisions I make about my child's upbringing are well thought out or not. Who decides whether my daughter is going to breath second hand smoke? Not you, Junyo. Me.

    Technically, if you don't like the fact that I point my speakers out the window and blare Ministry at top volume, you could move. Nobody forced you to move here. You chose to.

    Technically, if you don't like the fact that I'm swinging a machete in a crowded bar, you could just not go to the bar.

    Jennifer does raise a useful point: spraying pepper spray-smoking-wearing perfume-exhaling. All change the air that the people around you breathe. Anybody here think that I should be allowed to walk down the street spraying tear gas into the air? Anybody think I should be able to insist that the guy ahead of me on the sidewalk stop breathing? So how do we settle this? Ultimately, isn't there a judgement call to be made, in each individual case, about whether the substance you emit is more like teargas, or more like exhalation?

  • ||

    Andy, I would give you a "fucking break," except your nose may be broken from having your face slapped by WLC's post. I see you dropped that line of criticism quickly, no???

    Joe, I have no problem with your defense of your bodily integrity, although that sounds alot like General Ripper from Strangelove.
    Now that we have a genuine disagreement, let's do it in the republican fashion i.e., vote on a secondhand smoke referendum, rather than having Kesslerites imposing their moral crusade in the sheep's clothing of public health.

  • ||

    "So by saying that I can just "choose" to not go to a bar, while technically correct, is akin to telling me that if I don't want to smoke, I should just CHOOSE to not socialize or drink outside the confines of my own home."

    No, you should just CHOOSE to go somewhere else. Where in the world do you live where you really have no other options for a drink besides smoke-filled rooms?
    I don't like going to bars that have loud music and are really crowded because I want to be able to talk with my friends and because, well, I fucking hate crowds. Living in a town dominated by a large university, that unfortunately describes most of the bars around here. But there are just about always a few other options, unless you really live in a tiny town.
    As it happens, I now live in a town where smoking in bars is banned. But I used to live in St. Louis, where it isn't. I know there were options there for people who wanted smoke-free bars, and for people who wanted bars that were open and well-ventilated enough that others' smoking had little effect.

  • ||

    Jennifer, the harmful effects of second hand smoke have not been debunked. The problem has been shown not to be as serious as was once claimed, but people who breathe second hand smoke regularly do suffer health effects. Please don't got into "Thank God, I dug up a contrary study, now I can pretend the problem doesn't exist" mode.

    Also, physical discomfort (coughing, watering eyes, scratchy throat, nausea) go beyond the merely aesthetic.

  • ||

    A bar is an establishment for the drinking of alcohol...Likewise, most people who go to bars go there predominantly to socialize and to drink, and only a fraction of those people choose to smoke at the same time.

    A bar is an establishment for whatever the owner of the bar says it is. If that includes smoking, drinking and socializing, then screw you if you don't want to breathe smoke.

  • ||

    Junyo, you can't smoke in the supermarket, you can't smoke in the mall, you can't smoke in the movie theater, you can't smoke on a bus, or on a plane, or in pretty much every other place where there are a bunch of people around you who don't want to smoke.

    I just fail to see why bars and restaurants should be an exception. It doesn't make any sense to me.

    I think people should be able to smoke in their homes, in their cars, in the great outdoors or while walking down the street.

    I just don't think they should be able to smoke indoors where their choices directly effect other people, many of whom are mildly annoyed, extremely repulsed, or actually physically debilitated by their choice.

  • ||

    snake, I first became aware of the problem of second hand smoke during the physical act of love...

    In the republican fashion, the People have chosen to authorize a set of appointed representatives to make these judgement calls. I suppose the People could withdraw that authority, but it isn't being done.

    Perhaps the smokers were having difficulting with the walk to the polling station...

  • ||

    Regardless of the truthfulness of the person WLC quoted, Joe's argument remains sound. Even if 2nd hand smoke isnt HARMFUL (which I'm certain it is, even if you've never seen any "evidence") it's still a nuisance an infringement of my rights.

    And Jennifer, if you're wearing so much of something that it bugs the people around you, I hope you'd have the decency not to do so in the future.

  • ||

    db, should a bar owner be able to decide that his bar allows people to swing machetes at other people? Spray mace into the HVAC system?

    Seriously, I'm asking.

  • ||

    "I'm not saying people shouldn't be allowed to smoke. They just shouldn't bitch when they have to pay $10 a pack to pay for their health care down the road."

    This is assuming that the exorbitant tobacco taxes are actually used what they were originally earmarked for. I've read several stories about the tobacco settlement/tax money being used for everything but the healthcare it was supposed to pay for. Governent seems to just treats this money as a jackpot that keeps them from having to cut discretionary spending in non-related areas.

  • ||

    Joe-
    The coughing, watery eyes and so forth can just as easily be caused by perfumes. So, assuming that you value freedom for everybody and not just those who agree with you, how exactly do you decide which smells are to be banned, versus which are to be tolerated?

    Incidentally, methane gas is not healthy to breathe in any large quantities, and methane is a main ingredient of farts. So should indoor places also ban people who have eaten a large quantity of beans in the recent past?

  • ||

    "By snake's reasoning, my right to swing my fist ends not at your nose. It ends when I hit your nose HARD ENOUGH to cause you physical harm, rather than simply being a nuisance. Got it"

    joe, you've outdid yourself. Worst. Analogy. Evah. (a remarkable feat, actually)

    If you can't tell the difference between physical contact, and smoke, you have much to learn.

    Swinging your arms is not a crime, nor an offense to anybody. But, using the THREAT of force is.

    If you're swinging you arms 20 feet away, that's just you acting goofy. If you're 20 inches away, that's using the threat of violence to force your will.

  • ||

    Joe-
    Are you incapable of distinguishing between a guy next to you smoking a cigarette versus a guy next to you swinging a machete?

    Seriously, I'm asking.

  • ||

    db, all you just did is clarified how absurd your "crackhouse" analogy was.

    People go to bars for many reasons. People go to crackhouses specifically to smoke crack.

    Your crackhouse anaology would only apply if I was arguing that I should be able to go to a cigar bar without breathing smoke...

  • ||

    db, should a bar owner be able to decide that his bar allows people to swing machetes at other people? Spray mace into the HVAC system?

    Sure, why not? It wouldn't help his business much. But there are plenty of bars whose business is doing just fine, thank you, even though smoking is allowed there.

  • ||

    Guav, don't be a dumbass.

    If everyone knows that a particular bar owner allows smoking, then they know that they're going to be exposed to tobacco smoke in an institution for drinking and smoking tobacco. My analogy is absurd, exactly how?

  • ||

    "And Jennifer, if you're wearing so much of something that it bugs the people around you, I hope you'd have the decency not to do so in the future."

    Andy, the question is not whether or not I meet your standards of a decent human being; the question is whether the GOVERNMENT should enforce those standards. I think most men smell bad on summer afternoons when they've been sweating all day, but I'd rather deal with their odor than deal with a government that would regulate it.

  • ||

    And Joe, andy, et. al demonstrate the ideas behind the death of property rights in modern society.

  • ||

    Jennifer, why is it acceptable to compare non-smokers who don't want to breathe secondhand smoke to THE NAZIS, but it's crossing the line to compare smokers to machete-swingers?

    Either they're both absurd, or neither is.

    And since I haven't seen you rebuking anyone here who is comparing non-smokers to Nazis ....

  • ||

    Nice redirection, Guav, we've all forgotten about your untenable position in this argument now.

  • ||

    Who decides whether my daughter is going to breath second hand smoke? Not you, Junyo. Me.
    Never argued that point. Keep her in a climate controlled plastic bubble filled with air fit for a clean room for all I care. My point is you don't get to decide by imposing your air quality standards on me.

    Ultimately, isn't there a judgement call to be made, in each individual case, about whether the substance you emit is more like teargas, or more like exhalation?
    Which I believe, is the judgement call that everyone's been pointing to. A swinging machette will kill me, now. It represents an imminent, high probability threat. Teargas will incapacitate me. Cigarette smoke will make my clothes smell bad. I could probably shoot you and make a legitimate case of self defense for the first, maybe the second. What do you think about the third? If you reject quantifiable risk as the criteria, damn near anything can be spun into the next big public health boggieman. and then it becomes an excuse to pass a law, and the next thing you know we all smell like Frenchmen.

    Junyo, you can't smoke in the supermarket, you can't smoke in the mall, you can't smoke in the movie theater, you can't smoke on a bus, or on a plane, or in pretty much every other place where there are a bunch of people around you who don't want to smoke.
    That you can't is frankly irrelavent, and proves nothing. If a private property owner says "I don't want to allow smoking" fine. I don't let people smoke in my house, car, or office. If I owned a bar I would let people smoke there, because that's what people do at bars, and the facts that I like smoky bars, despite the ear burning/watering/itching, and I'd lose business otherwise. Therefore it's something else entirely for the government to tell me that I can't allow my patrons to smoke, cost me money, on the basis that it's for my own good. But at least joe can bring his daughter. Course, I'd give her a root beer then joe would sue me, but such is life.

  • ||

    Joe, It's unacceptable when one elected official apppoints a guy who appoints a guy who rigs and distorts government studies to implement his agenda. Regardless of issue.

    I realize that's how the left has gotten much of its agenda done since 1965, via unelected bureacracies and the courts, and you're to be congratulated on the clever audacity of these methods.

    Andy, I am very open to additional information on the health effects of secondhand smoke, but I can not entertain your argument just because "you're certain it's harmful."

    A nuisance is an infringement of your rights? I don't even know where to start with that, so I won't.

  • ||

    "Jennifer, why is it acceptable to compare non-smokers who don't want to breathe secondhand smoke to THE NAZIS, but it's crossing the line to compare smokers to machete-swingers?"

    Umm. . . lemme see. . .could it be because this very posting deals with the fact that the Nazis were among the first modern governments to try and regulate healthy behavior?

  • ||

    No db, I see Jennifer and Ironchef pointing out how exaggerated Joe's machete analogy is--and I agree completely--yet neither of them as far as I can tell have any problem with the far greater exaggeration of comparing non-smokers to Hitler and the Nazis.

    Like I said, either they're both absurd, or neither is.

    I think they both are.

  • ||

    Oh yeah, and again, public health paternalists (not all nonsmokers, just the ones who are like, total Nazis about it) actually are Nazis.

  • ||

    By the way, non-smokers have nothing in common with Nazis--I've been a non-smoker for awhile now myself--it's non-smokers who try to force their will upon others that give me the heebie-jeebies.

  • ||

    Guav,

    You've forgotten what it was that you originally attacked as "absurd": my analogy of choosing not to go to a crack house to avoid crack fumes and then my justification of that analogy by pointing out that if a bar allows smoking that it is essentially an institution for the consumption of alcohol and the smoking of tobacco, among other things.

    So please stay to the topic and admit you were mistaken in attempting to refute my analogy, and then explain why you're right without contradicting yourself again.

    btw, trying to redefine what a "bar" is is not going to get you far.

  • ||

    Jennifer, why is it that when non-smokers say to smokers "If you want to smoke, you have to leave (or not come here)." it's "forcing their will upon others," but when smokers say "If you don't want to smoke, you have to leave (or not come here)." it's an expression of personal freedom?

    Seems to me, the only real difference between the two is that a lot of people have a serious problem with cigarette smoke, whereas I have yet to meet anyone who has a problem with oxygen.

  • ||

    Reading joe's posts is causing quite a large amount of discomfort for me (coughing, watering eyes, scratchy throat, nausea). I demand his posts be banned. For the children. His fist's right to free speech ends where it strikes my nose of public health (or something).

  • ||

    db, I'm not trying to "redefine" what a bar is, you are.

    Bars, ale houses and taverns--whatever you want to call them--came into existence almost solely for the consumption of alcohol, and far predate the introduction of tobacco--which is only native to the Americas--to the western world.

    Bars have always been primarily a place to drink alcohol. That's why when you go into a bar, almost everyone there is .... uhm .... drinking, but not almost everyone there is smoking.

    That's why your crackhouse analogy would really only apply if I was talking about an establishment dedicated primarily to smoking, like cigar bars. Obviously, nobody would ever go to a crackhouse unless they wanted to smoke crack. That is their specific and express purpose.

  • ||

    Guav,

    "Why is it that when non-smokers say to smokers "If you want to smoke, you have to leave (or not come here)." it's "forcing their will upon others," but when smokers say "If you don't want to smoke, you have to leave (or not come here)." it's an expression of personal freedom?"

    Your question could just as accurately be phrased: Why is it when a certain subset of non-smokers tell a bar owner "If you want to run a bar you can't allow smoking" it's an expression of personal freedom, but when a bar owner says "If you don't like others smoking around you, you should find somewhere else to drink" it's forcing his will on others?

    And I'm curious about a question I asked you earlier (at 12:27 PM, although I didn't explicitly address you, I just quoted something you wrote): Where in the world do you live where you really have no other options for a drink besides smoke-filled rooms? I find it exceptionally hard to believe that the vast majority of people (expect maybe in very small towns) don't have some sort of smoke-free drinking and dining options, even if they may be more limited.

  • ||

    Guav-
    If the non-smoker OWNS the property, he's free to demand all smokers leave. Otherwise, he's just using "public health" or "the children" as a smokescreen to hide the fact that he's got serious control issues.

  • ||

    I think joes post at 12:00 is spot on. But the key word is "public". A bar, for example, is not a public place, it's private property! You don't have a right to be there, and have in fact can only be there at the pleasure of the owner.

  • ||

    Guav,

    "Bars have always been primarily a place to drink alcohol. That's why when you go into a bar, almost everyone there is .... uhm .... drinking, but not almost everyone there is smoking."

    I think it's more accurate to say that bars have always been a place for socializing while drinking, and often while eating. And as it turns out a lot of people like to smoke when they drink and socialize (even some who don't smoke otherwise).
    Anyway, I guess your comment was largely a response to the crackhouse analogy, but to the extent that you're trying to use it to justify smoking bans in bars, I don't think it works at all. A lot of stuff goes on in bars that didn't used to; it's up to the owner to decide whether those activities are "bar" activities.

  • ||

    Guav,

    You are correct, both are examples of forcing your will on others. But property owners have the right to force their will on others while they are on their property.

    Thus, if one bar owner wants to prohibit smoking in his/her establishment, (s)he should be free to do so. If another wants to allow it, and in effect ban non-smokers from the bar, (s)he should also have that choice.

  • ||

    You know, two could play at this game: e.g., repeat things Hitler said that Libertarians would agree with, and "prove" that this shows an affinity between Libertariansim and Nazism,

    E.g., "The authority of the State can never be an end in itself; for, if that were so, any kind of tyranny would be inviolable and sacred.

    "If a government uses the instruments of power in its hands for the purpose of leading a people to ruin, then rebellion is not only the right but also the duty of every individual citizen."

    http://www.magister.msk.ru/library/politica/hitla002.htm (*Mein Kampf*)

    See--Libertarians, like Hitler, reject the idea of state authority as an end in itself, and support the right of individual citizens to rebel against tyranny. What's more, Hitler like Libertarians, regarded Bolshevism as an "accursed crime against humanity." http://history.hanover.edu/courses/excerpts/111hit1.html That proves that there is an affinity between Libertarianism and Nazism :)

    In all seriousness, the idea that the state has some duty to promote "public health" has actually been the belief of virtually all twentieth century governments, including many that were far from dictatorial, and many that existed long before Hitler came to power. That Hitler *too* believed this proves absolutely nothing. The supposed "totalitarian logic" of public health somehow seems not to have resulted in totalitaraianism in most states that embraced it.

  • ||

    David T,

    The difference is that Hitler never put that philosophy into practice.

  • ||

    Jennifer, the machete is likely to cause more serious harm than the smoke, just as the smoke is more likely to cause harm than bad breath. Even if the harm is short of immediate lung cancer, you're still not allowed to do harm to other people's persons. That's the point of my comparison - along a spectrum of things you can do that intrude on others, some are more serious, some are less serious, so how do we decide what's allowed?

    Junyo, you keep asserting that a bad smell is the only impact of second hand smoke. It is not - physical discomfort, watering eyes, coughing, and greater chance of catching a cold because of irritated lungs are all normal, common reactions. Should I be allowed to poke you in the eye just hard enough to make your eyes water? Of course not.

    Is there some hard and fast rule about how intrusive on another person's, uh, person your actions have to be to qualify as force, or is it a judgement call?

  • ||

    "The Nazi stance on public health is one of many things I first learned about from Lemmy of Motorhead. That, and evidently you can be killed by death."

    I learned about gambling from Lemmy.

    ...Well, Lemmy by way of a long forgotten punk band called "Battalion of Saints".

  • ||

    Todd, there exists in American legal though the concept of a "place of public accommodation," which has some of the features of a public place, and some of the features of a private place. Within these places, the govenrment has a limited power to regulate behavior, on the grounds that the people therein are "the public," just like the people on a sidewalk. I realize you probably don't like the existence of this legal concept, but there it is. A bar is a place of public accommodation, and as such, the health impacts of its operations are to be considered as effecting the public, not just a private group of people, such as guests gathered in a private home.

  • ||

    Junyo,

    Its not a "cheap shot." Its indeed how Nazi "morality" looked at "non-Germans." It was "virtuous" - in their eyes - to call for exclusion of "non-Germans" from the population. This was the ethical consensus the Nazis created in Germany between 1933-1938 (though clearly not every "German" agreed with this consensus).

    Check out Koontz, The Nazi Conscience.

  • ||

    Junyo, you keep asserting that a bad smell is the only impact of second hand smoke. It is not - physical discomfort, watering eyes, coughing, and greater chance of catching a cold because of irritated lungs are all normal, common reactions. Should I be allowed to poke you in the eye just hard enough to make your eyes water? Of course not.

    joe, I've acknowledged several times that physical discomfort could be caused by secondhand smoke, and as I initially pointed out, for me more than most people. Nonetheless you continue to draw inaccurate parallels. Not allowing you to poke me in the eye is probably a good idea since my eyes are fairly useful, fairly fragile, and it's pretty much an all or nothing leap of faith that you can in fact poke me in the eyes just hard enough to cause watering but not so hard as to directly cause permanent damage. Which is a completely different than inhaling something they may cause discomfort and may increase the risk of catching an ailment. Someone with a cold, coughing next to me at the bar represents a far greater and immediate risk of causing "physical discomfort, watering eyes, coughing, and greater chance of catching a cold" than the guy with the cigarette, by any quantifiable measure; should people with colds be barred by law from "public" places?

  • gaius marius||

    By snake's reasoning, my right to swing my fist ends not at your nose. It ends when I hit your nose HARD ENOUGH to cause you physical harm, rather than simply being a nuisance. Got it.

    i'll quote mr joe, but could use any of several quotes to illustrate how the ability to compromise even slightly for your fellow man has died in the west. a more arrogant and self-involved culture you'll rarely see.

    "most of us don't like smoke; therefore, smoke should be outlawed." the idea that there should be a limit on this prerogative -- a constitution, a demostration of harm, or even common sense -- is now largely absent.

    whereas once the standard for legislation was real, significant and demonstrable social harm -- a standard secondhand smoke can only be imagined to meet, unlike punching people in the nose -- this has steadily deteriorated under the influence of emancipation in democracies. truly, limitation and modesty of action in general has conceded to bluster and highhandedness as individuals, increasingly convinced of their total primacy, no longer see a need to acquiesce to anything inconvenient.

    so any inconvenience caused by any action has now become pretext for the majoritarians (or even loud, well-financed minorities) to manipulate the state into persecution, replete with the attendant propaganda.

    from that, it is a small step to persecuting types on whom certain actions are implied -- say, muslims.

    So Jews, by being Jews, impose on the Aryans around them in the same manner as a guy blowing smoke in the direction of my 2 year old daughter?

    it has to be said, mr joe: the amount of harm caused an aryan by the existence of a jew is approximately equivalent to the harm caused your daughter by a guy smoking at the table next to you.

    unfortunately, the level of ability to compromise in both situations is growing similar as well.

  • ||

    Actually, Junyo, people have been charged with assault for deliberately subjecting others to their germs. I recall a case of a kid in a fast food restaurant being arrested for spitting in a cop's food, on exactly those grounds.

    Also, even if I were the Magnificent Joe (rather than just joe), with the world renowned ability to poke people in the eyes just enough to cause them to water, it would still be assault for me to poke somebody in the eyes, even a little bit.

    gaius, "it has to be said, mr joe: the amount of harm caused an aryan by the existence of a jew is approximately equivalent to the harm caused your daughter by a guy smoking at the table next to you." This is demonstrably false. Physical harm from cigarette smoke, from red eyes to coughs, is a frequently observed occurance. This is not a matter of taste, it is one of physical health. You don't have the right to intrude on my physical health.

  • ||

    Joe-
    Surely you can see that spitting germs directly into someone's food is different from merely being germ-infested in someone's vicinity, right? So can you answer Junyo's question?

    By the way, how did you, Guav and everyone else become so important that your comfort or lack thereof trumps the rights of all around you? I ask this because I, too, would like to be the center of the universe; I just need to learn how to accomplish this.

  • ||

    Way to dodge the point, Joe. The kid arrested for spitting in the cops food, was that a statement of rational public policy, or perhaps, just maybe, I don't know, the reaction by the cops when they find out someone's been spitting in their food? And no shit, poking people in the eyes is assault. Even the Magnificent Joe might slip.

    Now, would you care to actually answer the question? Should people with colds be barred by law from "public" places? Because there's a difference between public policy based on actual risk analysis, and policy based on conveniance and aesthetic considerations.

  • gaius marius||

    Physical harm from cigarette smoke, from red eyes to coughs, is a frequently observed occurance. This is not a matter of taste, it is one of physical health. You don't have the right to intrude on my physical health.

    mr joe, if we are ever to share the same train car or bus or restaurant or payphone, i NECESSARILY intrude on your physical health. you don't live in a bubble. this fantasy that none of us have to interact socially with one another is one of bizarre consequences of individualism run amok.

    and do you seriously conflate a bad smell with physical health? seriously? god help the flatulent.

    as i see it, all the sensible concessions about the changing social role of smoking have already been made -- separate restaurant sections and a lot of bans in confined necessarily shared spaces. honestly, how many times do you actually have ssmoke blown in your daughter's face in the average year?

    and yet this isn't enough -- total uncompromising victory is the goal. amazing.

  • ||

    Zieg Health!

  • ||

    What we have here is a failure of critical thinking. The failure is in analyzing who does what.
    Allow me to take you through it step by step.
    At some point in time a business is closed. Any business, not just bars. Even stores open 24 hours a day were closed before their first day of business.
    Then the owner (or representative) opens the business. Anyone who enters after that does so voluntarily and, more importantly, with the owners permission. The terms involved in obtaining permission are sometimes clearly posted (as in "no shirt ....) and sometimes by social understanding ("no swinging machetes").

    At some point "joe", a prospective customer, is outside the business. Does he enter or not? Here is where the critical thinking breaks down. The answer depends only on "joe". Regardless of any preconceived notions of right and wrong, regardless of any validity of health studies, regardless of any laws, "joe" is the only one with the ability to choose.

    If "joe" (a non-smoker) enters a building containing smoke, then any danger,discomfort,or nuisance, is the result of his own action.
    If "joe" (a smoker) enters a building where the owner does not permit smoking, then any discomfort he feels is the result of his own action.
    What is really going on (regardless of any health claim) with respect to a smoking ban is this: "joe" (the anti-smoker) finds himself outside a business he would like to enter were it not for the second-hand smoke, but he doesn't want to pursue peaceful means to persuade the owner to change his terms of permission. That's too much trouble. It's far easier to get the government to force the owner to change.

    Now, to those who support the smoking ban, I ask: What makes you think the force of government will never turn against you?

  • ||

    Kwais-
    You misjudged me.

  • ||

    I did answer the question. Smoking in the presence of other people introduces smoke into their systems very reliably. It is more like spitting in someone's food (certainty that they'll consume your germs), and less like sitting near them at the bar (fairly low chance that they'll consume your germs).

    Also, smoking is more like spitting in someone's food, and not merely breathing while having a cold, in that it is a deliberate behavior.

    So, no, I do not believe that people with colds should be banned from public places. Simply having a cold does not intrude on others' bodily integrity. I do, however, believe that it is right that deliberately infecting other people is illegal.

    jeff, the concept of "place of public accommodation" must be a real bitch for your way of thinking.

  • ||

    So we're at a bit of an impasse. We all agree that behaviors that actually harm other people should rightfully be forbidden, while those that merely strike others an unappetizing are not appropriate targets for regulation. The trouble we have is whether to classify smoking in an enclosed space as the former or the latter.

    So, if the government has a duty to prevent people from infringing on the rights of others, and if causing people physical harm is an infringement on their rights, how should the government go about deciding when it is appropriate to regulate a behavior, when there is a judgement call to be made about whether the effects of that behavior are properly defined as "harm?" The physical effects of second hand smoke - the itchy eyes and bronchial cought, et al - how are we, as a society, to determine whether they count as harm?

  • ||

    ...pretending for the moment that there is no causal relationship between second hand smoke and respiratory disease.

  • ||

    I did answer the question. Smoking in the presence of other people introduces smoke into their systems very reliably. It is more like spitting in someone's food (certainty that they'll consume your germs), and less like sitting near them at the bar (fairly low chance that they'll consume your germs)... Simply having a cold does not intrude on others' bodily integrity.

    Which is why you always hear about "that cancer and emphesama that's going around the office" and never about that "that flu that's going around the office". Puleeze. Again, the guy or gal sitting next to you exudes all sorts of substances that'll wind up it you lungs. This is only of concern unless this causes you damage. The smoker has a far less chance of causing such damage than the infected cold sufferer and his nasal contagion howitzer.

    We all agree that behaviors that actually harm other people should rightfully be forbidden...
    Not even that. Behaviors that harm other people when those people have no alternative but to subject themselves to that harm.

  • ||

    Couple of points:

    1. "sin taxes" don't raise money to take care
    of sick smokers, drinkers, etc.. That money is
    instead put in a general fund and essentially
    makes up for shortfalls in other tax collections.
    My main complaint with "sin taxes" is they are
    implmented by politicans who don't have enough
    spine to raise income, property, etc. taxes.

    2. I'll stand up for a ban on smoking in all
    public places as long as there is also a ban
    on children in public. I am tired of having
    crying brats ruin otherwise relaxing dinners,
    movies, plane rides, etc..

    3. Do smokers, drinkers, etc. really use much
    more health care? If they die young how does
    their final bill compare with non-sinners who
    potentialy are a burden on society into their
    80's and 90's? Last time I checked a nursing
    home costs around $3k a month, and in many
    cases the bill is paid by the government.

    4. Where I live 80-90% resturants, bars, etc. are
    smoke free. It amazes me when non-smokers walk
    past 8 or 9 smoke free establishments and
    straight into the 1 or 2 places where smoking is
    allowed, and then proceed to complain. What is
    wrong with these people? Are they stupid or just
    bull headed?

    5. What is it about the last smoking
    bar in a neighborhood that makes it the place
    to be? If the smokers are forced out will the bar
    be the same or will it become just another
    overpriced coffee shop?

    6. Non smokers tend to complain about their
    insurance going up because of smokers. The last
    time I heard this was from a woman who has
    for the last 10-20 years received expensive
    treatment for a cronic life threatening illness.
    Her treatment was covered first by government
    programs and later when she married by her
    husband's insurance plan. Why does society have
    to pay to keep her alive so she can bitch
    about other people raising "her" costs?

    7. Where I work most sick days are taken by
    people with young kids. In fact most of my
    employers insurance costs are driven by
    children of current employees and people who
    have retired from the company with benefits. I
    think it is wrong I have to pay higher insurance
    rates and pick up the slack at work because
    so many of my coworkers have snot-nosed kids.

    8. My guess is having a child "costs" society
    more than smoking. Has anyone tallied all the
    costs parents pass on to society? Why arn't
    parents taxed more heavily to offset these costs?
    If fact why are single people taxed to pay
    for schools they don't use? Who pays for the
    jails when parents don't parent?

  • ||

    http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/asiapcf/12/17/bhutan.smoking.reut/index.html

    Damn Buddho-fascists! (Seriously, what's really troubling is the percentage of people who in CNN's admittedly unscientific poll, want to follow Bhutan's example...)

  • ||

    Here's a question for joe and andy and the other proponents of smoking bans: Why do non-smokers' rights trump smokers' rights? As gaius marius said, we've already reached some compromises, e.g. smoking and non-smoking sections at restaurants. Currently the only places I can smoke indoors are bars and my own home (and a select few other homes). Why isn't this enough? Why is only the absolute banning of smoking in all public places the only acceptable solution? Living in a society with other people requires compromises. Smokers have already heavily compromised, often admittedly only under duress, but nonetheless the deck is already stacked in non-smokers' favor. Can we not just find a way to live together, a way that doesn't involve non-smokers forcing ever more compromises through government action?

    For the record, I hate the smell of cigarette smoke with a passion. I smoke a pipe, and most (though by no means all) people rather like the smell of the smoke. I probably get more harm overall from the cigarette smoke than I do from my own pipe (if you grant that secondhand smoke is dangerous). But I'm not going around threatening to ban cigarette smoking in bars. Why is this the only acceptable compromise to you?

  • ||

    What makes the smoking ban somewhat fascist is that there is no compromise. In Utah, where I live, there seems to be a ventilation requirement in bars. I've been in bars with dozens of people puffing away and there's no noticeable trace of smoke either as a cloud or an odor. The casino bars in Vegas have similar devices.

    It would be possible to create smoker-only rooms where there is no table service (so employees are never exposed) and extreme levels of ventilation so that smokers could enjoy each others company and the non-smokers would remain blissfully free of smoke. Unfortunately, the laws prevent even this level of separation, thinking it best to simply prohibit smoking in general.

    So there could be reasonable compromises, but the anti-smoking lobby refuses to consider any of them. And when you consider the anti-smoking lobby's reaction to oral tobacco products, which solve far more health problems than they would create, you then realize their deeply puritanical nature.

  • ||

    Joe, it's not "pretending," rather it's having a debate on the merits of an issue, which should remain within the realm of your earlier post on 2nd hand smoke as an invasion of your privacy (which it could very well be) not on dubious claims about 2nd hand smoke as a carcinogen/health hazard.

  • ||

    "jeff, the concept of "place of public accommodation" must be a real bitch for your way of thinking."

    joe, the concept of "place of private accomodataion" must be a real bitch for your way of thinking.

    Again, the lack of critical thinking. It is not your place, nor is it mine, to tell the owner of any business what to do.

    Whether a "smoking is more like spitting in someone's food" is a true statement or not is irrelevant.

    What is relevant is understanding who is doing what. Note that in my previous post the subject could just have easily been wearing perfume, having a cold, or singing loudly in a bookstore.

    What is relevant is the permission of the owner.
    And what those who don't like the terms of permission are willing to do to get their way.
    Are they willing to use peaceful persuasion or will they resort to the threat of violence?

    You can dress it up anyway you want, but when you cut to the chase, government works by the threat of violence. If you disagree with them, you get hurt. End of story.

    On the other hand peaceful, civilized, people allow those who disagree with them to go their own way.

    You want a smoke free bar? You want loud singing in a bookstore? I don't want either of those, but I WILL NOT try to stop anyone from trying to obtain them peacefully. And I WILL try to stop anyone from prohibiting others from peaceably getting what they want.

  • ||

    Why isn't this enough? Why is only the absolute banning of smoking in all public places the only acceptable solution?

    Because it is an unholy abomination of the Devil!

    Oh wait, that's sex. Gimme a minute.

    Because it is an unholy abomination of Saddam!

    Dammit, that's WMDs. Hold on... Here's the right one.

    Because it is an unholy abomination of Phillip Morris! And they stink up my clothes.

  • Brendan Perez||

    Give me a break Guav.

    You're not forced to go into a bar or any other privately owned business. If you don't like the smoke, you can choose to go to a bar or establishment that doesn't allow smoking-it's really quite simple.

    There are people who have problems, either aesthetic or medical, with colognes and perfumes, strobe lights, and even artificially generated fog. The easiest solution for those people would be to stay out of nightclubs that have those undesireable things and/or find one that doesn't.
    It's an inappropriate use of government authority/force to mandate that all privately owned businesses cater to your requirements, esp. when you don't have to go there.

    I don't care for loud music, in fact I could even say that it's a potential health problem. My solution isn't to go to the nearest lawmaker and demand that all businesses keep it down. No, I simply find one whose noise level (and genre) is in line with my tastes.
    If I had kids and it affected them, I wouldn't take them threre anymore.

    The Excalibur Casino in Las Vegas has a resturaunt/dining experience where you eat and guys dressed up in medieval garb ride around on horses. Some people have allergies that could be inflamed by the dirt or horse.
    The solution? A simple posted warning that tells you that there are live animals and dust. People with allergies to these things should stay away.
    I suppose that the horses and dirt should be done away with lest someone and/or their 2 year old be "forced" to inhale horse dander and dust, right?

  • ||

    I can answer one of those, Clue Less

    "If they die young how does
    their final bill compare with non-sinners who
    potentialy are a burden on society into their
    80's and 90's?" People who die 20 years early from smoking-related illnessed don't lose the sick, expensive, final 20 years of their lives. They lose 20 cheap, healthy middle aged years. Most health care dollars are spent at the end of life. Smokers have this expensive end of life phase - they just don't have as many producting years preceding it.

  • ||

    The more people smoke, the less Social Security has to pay them. Really, Joe, I'd think that you would ADMIRE smokers, for dying young and subsidizing the pensions of their fellow Americans.

  • ||

    Junyo, I'm totally baffled what your "cancer going around the office" crack is supposed to mean. People complain about smokers' smoke making them sick all the time. There's even been concern expressed about it in the medical community, you know.

    I've sat next to people with colds and remained healthy hundreds of times. Sitting near someone who smokes in a confined space, otoh, causes a physical reaction more often than not.

    You ignored the other key difference I pointed out - having a cold is not a deliberate act. Therefore, the person can not be said to be victimizing me. Smoking is a deliberate act.

  • ||

    Re: Second Hand Smoke.

    There is *no* evidence linking casual passive smoke (the kind you would pick up going to a bar every odd weekend) and cancer.

    What there is evidence for is that people who live with smokers or work in a smoke filled environment (i.e. around smoke for hours a day everyday) have a higher risk of cancer.

    In every discussion I've had with anti-smoke crusaders, it's come down to one issue. Can the government ban smoking in the name of occupational health and safety. This is only thing that comes close to a decent argument and even that falls flat on it's face unless you believe there's a portion of the population that has no choice but to bartend and/or waitress.

  • ||

    grillyade, "Why do non-smokers' rights trump smokers' rights?"

    Non-smokers are asserting a negative right - I have the right to be free of physical coercion. I have the right to determine what goes into my body. I have the right to defend myself if you attempt to physically harm me. This is heavy duty stuff.

    By comparison, smokers are asserting a positive right, the right to do something to another person - I have the right to make you breathe my smoke. I have the right to alter your body chemistry. I have the right to make you sick. No, actually, you don't. The right to do something to someone else's body without their permission is very, very closely circumscribed in our society. You have to show a very, very compelling need, such as defense of human life. "I'm having a nic fit" doesn't cut it.

    "Why is only the absolute banning of smoking in all public places the only acceptable solution?" Oh, I don't believe it is. I'm just arguing the principle. I actually agree that some of the applications of this principle go too far. But the original post was not "this smoking regulation goes too far," it was "anyone who supports any interruption in other people's smoking hazards is a NAZI NAZI NAZI." In fact, there are solid, individual-rights-based reasons to support some regulations.

  • Brendan Perez||

    What's intersting about the LV casino bars is that, unless there's an ordinance I'm not aware of, the ventilation systems in them are a completely voluntary undertaking.
    No compulsion required.

    Around here (LV) we get these signs and radio ads that tell us that 60,85, etc. (a large majority) of adults in Clark County/Las Vegas support a complete ban on smoking in resturaunts and bars.

    If that were true and the proportion of people who support these bans make up the same proportion of people who frequent these places, it would mean that business owners have been directly offending and acting against a large portion of their customers with apparently no ill effects.

    It's possible that the anti-smoking customers just don't bother voicing their complaints to the business owners, in which case they have no one to blame but themselves. OTOH, they seem to have no problem skipping the business owner and voicing their complaint to their elected officials.

    If these same anti-smoking people don't make up the same percentage of customers in these businesses, then it would seem that they're outsiders who feel no direct effects on themselves and are just trying to tell others what to do.

    I also have to wonder why, if an overwhelming majority of people support smokefree whatevers, there aren't smokefree whatevers aplenty. I would even imagine that the ratio of smoking/smokefree businesses should be somewhat close to the ratio of people who supposedly support smoking/smokefree places.

    In the end, I believe that many of the people who support smoking bans in bars, nightclubs, etc. don't actually frequent them and never will. Businnes owners probably feel the same way, as I can't think of any other explanation for why they haven't seen fit to convert their bars, nightlcubs, and resturaunts to smokefree venues en masse.

  • ||

    I actually agree with CS on the severity of some regulations (even walled off, negative air pressure smoking rooms are forbidden in a lot of places), and on the motives of some in the anti-smoking movement.

    "Let's make smoking history" is about changing social norms. That's a noble enough goal, I guess, but not one that should be pursued via state coercion. Only preventing intrusions on other people justifies coercive regulation of people's personal habits, in my opinion.

  • ||

    jeff,

    "joe, the concept of "place of private accomodataion" must be a real bitch for your way of thinking."

    Um, no, not really. Some places are private, some places are public, and they need to be treated differently. Correct me if I'm wrong, but even NYC allows smoking in private clubs, do they not?

    So Mr. jeff, do you agree that the bad old government should be able to use violence, or the threat of violence, to prevent people from harming your body against your will?

  • ||

    I have the right to make you breathe my smoke.

    Ridiculous. No one on either side is left with "no choice" but to not smoke or breath smoke. It's a turf war is all.

    I have the right to alter your body chemistry.

    Well yes you do. You can breath in my general area. You can wear perfume that I inhale. You can even pass gas without threat of jailtime.

    I have the right to make you sick.

    You have to show that occasional passive smoke is a threat to your health.

    The fact that a large amount of daily smoke is a threat in no way shows that passive smoke makes you sick.

    People talk as if level of exposure is no issue at all. Fine, then be consistent and ban potatoes. Since it's only quantity that changes a food into a deadly carcinogen.

  • ||

    "smokers are asserting a positive right, the right to do something to another person" is absolute gibberish. Smokers do not run after people and force them to inhale smoke. They will not light up on property where the owner prohibits smoking. They do not go out in the street and coerce people to enter buildings. They do not advocate laws requiring smoking against the owners wishes. They only want to be left in peace.

    "Non-smokers are asserting a negative right - I have the right to be free of physical coercion."
    Is also absolute gibberish. Non-smokers are the ones exerting physical coercion (upon property owners) through the force of law. They enter private property as customers and tell the owner what to do. They will not leave any place unscathed, even the ones they're not in.

    Twist the facts all you want. Try all the fancy words you want. You can't change the fact that the non-smoker is the one that is entering the smoke filled room.

  • Brendan Perez||

    "By comparison, smokers are asserting a positive right, the right to do something to another person - I have the right to make you breathe my smoke. I have the right to alter your body chemistry. I have the right to make you sick. No, actually, you don't. The right to do something to someone else's body without their permission is very, very closely circumscribed in our society. You have to show a very, very compelling need, such as defense of human life. "I'm having a nic fit" doesn't cut it."

    No. Smokers are asserting that they have the right to smoke in an environment where the owner allows it. They're further asserting that if you don't want your body chemistry altered, than you're free to go to a place where that type of behavior isn't allowed.

    If I went to a place that required all people coming in the door to have their face painted or arm tattooed (both of which are body alterations)-or even hand stamped, I could either choose to enter and be subjected to the face painting/tatooing/stamping, or NOT. I'm not "forced" to accept these things, I can always go to a place that doesn't require "body alteration".

    The fact that it's posted or directly made a requirement that I face some sort of body alteration as a condition of entry is immaterial. Anyone who knows what smoking is and/or that they don't like it knows that bars and nightclubs allow it.
    I would defy anyone to show me someone who goes to bars/nightclubs, doesn't like cigarette smoke, yet is completely oblivious to the fact that smoking may actually go on in there.

    It's also assumed that if a resturaunt asks "smoking or non", they allow smoking. I can choose to try out their version of non-smoking or go somewhere else.
    No resturaunt I've ever been to that allowed smoking has ever failed to ask that question.

  • ||

    In order to live at all every individual has to give up some 'rights' s/he could conceivably attempt to retain. The right to die, if nothing else.

    In order to live in company with others, we have to go even further, and give up many 'rights'. The right to swing the arm short of the nose of another is the old example.

    We can all agree, I think, that no right can absolutely trump all other rights all the time in every situation. Sooner or later there has to be some kind of compromise.

    If we do this *voluntarily*, we could probably agree to call it maturity, wisdom, common sense, or some other agreeable thing.

    If we are *compelled* to give up these rights, that rankles.

    And it should, largely because of the difficulty in finding any reliable someones to do the compelling. We understandably are suspicious of their motives, tables of values, etc.

    So we all find ourselves not wanting lung cancer, but some of us would really like to inhale tobacco (or other) smoke.

    Those who blow smoke in other's breathing air and say "it's my right" are within their rights.

    Those who compel others to refrain from blowing smoke into their breathing air are within their rights.

    Oh no! Rights clash! Who trumps who? Depends, as it usually does, on your philosophy going in.

    I suggest that arguing at the 2nd storey level of smoke, or machetes, or (God forgive the human race) genocide machines is not going to bear much fruit if we start our disagreement in the foundation of rights versus privileges, for example.

  • ||

    "I suggest that arguing at the 2nd storey level of smoke, or machetes, or (God forgive the human race) genocide machines is not going to bear much fruit if we start our disagreement in the foundation of rights versus privileges, for example."

    OK. Let's try the very simple concepts of "mine" and "yours". The ones we learned in kindergarten. Close enough to the ground? If only we could remember what we learned in kindergarden when we grow up. The world would be a far better place.

    Now re-read my previous posts and replace "business owner" with "this business is mine". Still reads the same doesn't it?

    Simply respecting the concepts of "mine" and "yours" solves a whole world of problems. I won't smoke in "your" business if you keep your nanny-state out of "mine".

  • gaius marius||

    No. Smokers are asserting that they have the right to smoke in an environment where the owner allows it. They're further asserting that if you don't want your body chemistry altered, than you're free to go to a place where that type of behavior isn't allowed.

    exactly, mr perez.

    mr joe, your argument appears very silly and quite dangerous to me. it all revolves essentially around the completely narcissistic view that the things that are done around you are being done explicitly to you, even if you are free to leave -- and, therefore, nothing should ever be done around you that you don't agree with, even if it means others cannot do as they wish -- and moreover, that the hazard of such a situation arising should never be allowed to exist.

    it seems an extremely selfish, petulant and antisocial view, no matter how i try to cut it -- and i've attempted to be charitable.

  • MP||

    I was not familiar with the concept of "place of public accommodation". A quick Google of it turns of this link from our friends at the EEOC:

    http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/adaqa2.html

    I don't agree with the philosophical foundation of this intrusion of government oversight onto private life, but I appear to be in the minority (except around these parts).

  • ||

    I remember what it was like before the whole "no smoking" movement got started.

    There were more times than I can count where I would be in a coffee shop with "no smoking" signs stuck up on the walls and someone would be underneath them...smoking.

    We tried to have it voluntary but too many people abused the system. Hence, laws with teeth.

    Historically, usually what happens.

  • ||

    Junyo, I'm totally baffled what your "cancer going around the office" crack is supposed to mean. People complain about smokers' smoke making them sick all the time. There's even been concern expressed about it in the medical community, you know.

    What it means is that you continue to avoid the point that in the absence of harm, and coercion to force that harm, your argument is primarily one of mob rule. Most of us aren't smokers and don't like smoking, so screw the smokers. Labeling it a public health issue is a red herring. Where was I reading that article about some people that used "public health" as a canard for all sorts of rights deprivations? They were real Nazis about it too. I'm sure it'll come to me...

    "I've sat next to people with colds and remained healthy hundreds of times." Bully for you. I've sat next to smokers hundreds of times, and still have both my lungs, but lose about a week a year to colds and flu thanks to my coworkers. Now that we've gotten those lovely annecdotes out of the way, would you care to actually compare the relative risk factors?

  • ||

    TZS-

    The "pro-smoker" folks here aren't saying that smokers should be allowed to smoke underneath a 'no smoking' sign and get away with it--they're saying that property owners, not the government, should be the ones to decide whether or not to post such signs in different places. You anti-smokers keep pretending that people like me advocate laws making it mandatory to allow smoking in an operating room while open-heart surgery's being performed, for Chrissake.

    Give up the false dichotomy and address the real choices, will you, guys?

  • ||

    By the way, I suppose I have to add that I was being facetious there, so please don't waste time explaining why the 'open-heart-surgery' comment is untrue.

  • ||

    "Now, to those who support the smoking ban, I ask: What makes you think the force of government will never turn against you?"

    Comment by: jeff at December 17, 2004 02:31 PM

    Jeff's question sums it all up. This isn't about whether or not second-hand smoke hurts people, it's about using government force to get your way.
    As he points out, the problem with using laws in this fashion comes when the "majority" decide they want to change something fundimental. Keep in mind that slavery is completely legal in this country, according to the founding fathers, and that only amending the constitution changed that. The amendment could be repealed, and we could have slavery again by a simple will of the majority.

    Sound impossible? It wasn't that long ago that using eminent domain for the benefit of private companies would never have been thought possible, either. After all, this is America! We have rights!

    The obvious point is that anyone who wants to empower the government to protect them at the cost of freedom not only deserves neither, but can expect to have neither.

    WSDave

  • ||

    "By WILLIAM KATES
    Associated Press Writer

    ITHACA, N.Y. ? Nearly half of all Americans believe the U.S. government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim Americans, according to a nationwide poll."


    Christ! What will they come up with next, outlawing smoking?

    WSDave

  • ||

    Funny how smoking gets such a bad rap, but drinking gets a pass. Care to tally the "social cost" of alcohol use? Why don't we just follow the logic of the ban-defenders and close all the bars. Then, let's ban all voluntary activities that are "dangerous"--the term will be defined by committee.

  • ||

    Bill-
    Some holier-than-thou person will sniff, "But there's no such thing as second-hand drinking!" so let me beat them to the punch here.

    To paraphrase something Fran Lebowitz once said: "It used to be people believed in truth and honor and eradicating injustice and helping the underdog; now they believe in not smoking."

  • ||

    I remember the bit, vaguely, in Adam Smith where he gives the example of a man walking out his front door when a cinder from his neighbor's chimney lands on his newly cleaned shirt. There are valid, libertarian even, arguments on both sides of the queston of who should pay for the cleaning bill. We could legally hold the neighbor responsible for the cleaning bill on the theory that the neighbor clearly harmed our man's property. On the other hand, we could tell the man that he assumed the risk of getting his shirt soiled with soot by walking out his front door; it's simply the cost of a civil society and the freedom people have to burn logs in their homes.

    Either way, this is a legitimate question for local government.

    Where we go astray is in tryin' to pass laws that restrict what other people can do with their own property. For instance, here in California, we've taken to prohibiting restaurant owners from deciding whether or not they want to allow a smoking section. To me, this seems like the equivalent of the government in Adam Smith's day making a law to prohibit people from burning anything in their fireplaces in order to stop cinders from coming out of their chimneys. If a smoker were to strap someone down and blow smoke in a victim's face until cancer set in, well I think that would be a clear cut case, but in a civil society, people have to take responsibility for the choices they make.

    Some people choose to live in the country for their health, and some people choose to live in Los Angeles and breathe the air. California Pizza Kitchen won't let people smoke on their patio, but the Red Robin across the street lets people smoke there. Some people go to California Pizza Kitchen specifically because they don't let people smoke on the patio, and I know smokers who won't go to or order from a California Pizza Kitchen because of their no smoking policy. Some non-smokers go to the Red Robin and sit on the patio because they like the food and they don't mind the smoke.

    So I don't see any need for a law protecting people from second-hand smoke. Maybe there should be a law requiring employers to inform prospective employees that they allow smoking on the premises and that there are risks associated with second hand smoke, and maybe there should be a law requiring restaurant owners to warn the public that smoking is allowed on the premises, but I don't see the rationale for a law prohibiting people from allowing smoking on their own property.

    ...maybe there should be a law protecting the right of property owners to determine the smoking policy on their own property.

  • ||

    After reading this I'm surprised the topic of Environmental Illness (EI)or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) hasn't been raised. Jennifers angle on perfume is the direction of the future in the argument over whose rights are trump.

    A simple google on perfume sensitivity will lead you to sites on the subject. There is a growing population of people that are nearly if not total confined to their own created safe environments because there are so many chemicals in out society that cause them more than just "coughing, watering eyes, scratchy throat, nausea".

    I hope everyone that agrees to the smoking ban can be as agreeable to banning perfume, gasoline, fabric softeners, hand soap, pesticides, and almost every synthetic chemical.

    http://www.ourlittleplace.com/fragfree.html

    http://www.aafp.org/afp/980901ap/magill.html

    I'll even toss in this site which is skeptical, with research debuking MCS. We must now figure out if these studies were financed by the perfume industry just like Big Tobacco.

    http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/mcs.html

    Just because I got a little gasoline on myself while filling up my car doesn't give me the right to walk in a bar with chemicals that could cause physical harm to another. Right?

  • ||

    Nice quote, Jennifer.

    Does a thread ever end if it begins with Hitler?

  • ||

    Maybe, to prevent gasoline fumes from poisoning people, we need laws requiring that people who put gasoline in their cars must take a shower and change their clothes immediately thereafter, so they don't go around poisoning enclosed spaces with gasoline fumes. Christ, I can't even *begin* to remember the number of parties I've been to that were ruined because somebody died from either secondhand gasoline inhalation or secondhand lung cancer.

    Where exactly does Joe live, where smokers don't smoke at the opposite end of a large room, but come over in enclosed spaces and blow smoke directly into the faces of two-year-old girls? I know he's in Massachusetts, but I go into that state frequently and I don't see such belligerent people.

  • RiShawn Biddle||

    "While in theory that's a good idea, the fact is that most people can't afford the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars of health care that they may potentially need after getting emphesema or lung cancer. Are we just gonna let them die?"

    The problem with that argument is that it assumes that health care costs would remain the same under a free market system. That's not necessarily the case. While advances in health care technology have made health care expensive, so has the fact that it's a largely government-warped system where the true customers do not pay the full cost of the service they buy; those purchases are made by their employers, who do get a government tax deduction for their expenditures. That tax deduction, along with the fact that governments also own hospitals, provide medical care (through Medicare and Medicaid) and the fact that individuals without coverage do not get a tax deduction for buying coverage, completely warps the system.

    In essence, Andy, it could be a lot less expensive to treat emphysema under a more free-market system. Don't think so? Consider all the other items that have been revolutionized by technological advances (computers, the internet, video games) and yet have become relatively cheap. If anything, technological advances would actually bring the cost of care down.

    This isn't to say that smoking is great or that it shouldn't be discouraged. Societal pressure can be brought to bear to discourage smoking in the way such pressure is used to encourage people to attend college. But it shouldn't be shoved down the throats of the minority for our sake.

  • ||

    One of the things that struck me in the linked article was that the Nazi anti-smoking campaign does not apperar to have been particularly effective.

    Another was how late they started.

    "From July 1943, tobacco use was outlawed in public places for anyone aged less than 18 years. It was considered criminal negligence if drivers were involved in crashes while smoking. In 1944, smoking was banned on trains and buses in cities. It was also prohibited in many workplaces, public buildings, hospitals, and rest homes."

    Frankly it doesn't sound that draconian.

    Another sugestion is that it was all a smokescreen. (Sorry).

    "An emigre Jewish physician and campaigner against the Nazi regime, Martin Gumpert, considered the lifestyle campaigns to be a cover up for the fact that health in Nazi Germany deteriorated dramatically."

    I liked this one.

    "Gumpert proclaimed that the "abstinent Hitler, who from conviction never takes a drop of alcohol... now drives the people at whose head he stands into fatal alcoholism." "

    Politicians never change, huh? :)

  • ||

    In order to reduce healthcare spending, federal, state and local governments are increasing controls over what were formerly personal health choices. In the past, "public health" referred primarily to communicable diseases. However, when taxes are paying everyone's health bills, private behaviors such as smoking, overeating and using alcohol become quite arguably everybody's business.

    Senator Hillary Clinton recently expanded on this theme by introducing the concept of "our collective health". Citing productivity losses, health expenses and national security, she endorses legislation and national policy governing social and environmental factors to design neighborhoods and schools, "control dangerous behaviors", and implement "required responsibility" for individual health concerns. (Clinton H., Now Can We Talk About Health Care?; New York Times Magazine April 18, 2004)

    If it is the duty of the government to prevent people from harming the body by what is ingested (e.g. tobacco, alcohol, high fat content), surely there can be no objection to the state limiting those activities that might also result in harm and public expense. Riding a motorcycle, skiing and rock climbing and other high-risk activities become fair game. Further, if the government demands the right to determine what the human body can or cannot consume, there is no good reason to limit its interest in the effects of media on behavior and the human mind. In order to reduce health costs and prevent harm to society, preventing people from reading bad books or advertisements, listening to bad music or speeches and watching bad TV shows or movies should quite reasonably fall under the purview of the state.

    Even discussing forbidden behaviors could be forbidden, not unlike legislation in Canada regarding "hate speech" which exposes the increasing trend toward censorship for "expressing thoughts that the state defines as improper". However, because freedom really means the freedom to make mistakes, this kind of society is no longer a democracy by any means, and no longer free, except free to obey. [hat tip to Mises]

  • ||

    If it is the duty of the government to prevent people from harming their MORTAL BODIES, what about their IMMORTAL SOULS?

    I mean we're talking the merest blink of an eye compared to all eternity. ;)

    No decent person would allow anybody to get his soul condemned to perdition.

  • kc||

    The minute you start using the power of the state to meddle in people's lives in the name of "the needs of the many" (fuck you Gene Roddenberry), you cross the line from maternalistic nag to jackbooted tyrannt no matter how well intention YOU think you are.

    Are all Libertarians this hysterical?

  • ||

    Libertarians think that they are not anarchists largely because "anarchy" has negative connotations. The reality is quite different--libertarians ARE anarchists until they gain power; then they become totalitarians.

    The point of the Sullum post is utterly idiotic. First, promotion of public health has nothing to do with forcing everyone to quit smoking (although massive flame out would not be such a bad outcome, would it?). The point is to promote those in contact with agressive smokers--I for one, am allergic to some of the additives in certain brands of cigarettes and have no tolerance for someone invaing my personal air space. Telling the self destructive morons not to puff up in public is perfectly consistent with Natural Law--their action violates the rights of others, the majority in fact, so it cannot be tolerated.

    Even with the disclaimer, there is another idiotic element to the post. Hitler was a vegetarian (and many proselytizing vegetarians are rather aggressive in their moralizing--much like the anti-abortionists). Does that mean that every vegetarian is a totalitarian at heart? Or just the ones to promote vegetarianism publicly? Or is all this just a smokescreen?

    I am yet to have seen ANY internally consistent arguments from self-professed libertarians. This one is no exception.

  • ||

    "I am yet to have seen ANY internally consistent arguments from self-professed libertarians. This one is no exception."

    You can't see or hear anything when your head is up your ass.

  • ||

    Hmmmmm, the Hebrew Scriptures are full of public health rules. The God of Abraham wants public health.

  • ||

    Incidentally, methane gas is not healthy to breathe in any large quantities, and methane is a main ingredient of farts. So should indoor places also ban people who have eaten a large quantity of beans in the recent past?

    apart from all the other silly things about this analogy, it's kind of fitting on this thread to point out that there's no scientific evidence that eating beans causes flatulence.

  • ||

    Touche, but anecdotal evidence abounds. P-U.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement