A Real Smoking Ban

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In an editorial pushing a U.K. ban on smoking in "public places," The Lancet blithely adds: Why not make that a ban on smoking everywhere?

Calling for a ban on smoking in public places is a start, but it is missing the point. Tim Lord, the Chief Executive of the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association, believes that price is the main determinant of how many smokers there are. We disagree. Availability and acceptability are more important. If tobacco were an illegal substance, possession of cigarettes would become a crime, and the number of smokers would drastically fall. Cigarette smoking is a dangerous addiction. We should be doing a great deal more to prevent this disease and to help its victims. We call on Tony Blair's government to ban tobacco.

In other words, since cigarette smoking is a disease, we should make it a crime. The best way to help those poor tobacco junkies is to put them in jail. Someday they'll thank us–just like all those pot smokers who are grateful when the police guide them back to the straight and narrow. Or should I say, cure them?