Erin Go Smokeless

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Darby O'Gill, put this in your pipe and don't smoke it:

Ireland has become the first country in the world to impose a nationwide ban on smoking in all workplaces, pubs, bars and restaurants. European Union health commissioner David Byrne, who is Irish, has said he would like to see the ban replicated throughout the EU, inform reuters.co.uk

Whole story here. The ban "applies to all enclosed spaces designated as workplaces, including company cars."

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  1. Matt typed, “Requiring exercise and banning smoking to reduce health care cost do make sense. If I’m going to pay for your health care it doesn’t seem like much to ask.”

    So where is the limit on how much intrusion into my life is justified to reduce collective health care costs?

    I don’t smoke, I exercise regularly, but my kind of exercise is dangerous. Plenty of mountaineers never make it to old age. I also drive fast, bike without a helmet, and have removed the blade guard from my table saw for photographic purposes.

    My neighbor kisses his dog knowing full well the dog has licked its backside.

    Where do we draw the line?

  2. A little state involvement in private life naturally and logically grows into significant state involvement. Whatever the original high-minded goal, the effect of the first intervention will be incomplete because it bends some individuals against their will. Those resisters will modify behaviour, finding “loopholes” in order to continue in their pursuit of happiness. The loopholes must be closed by th state, affecting individuals possibly unconnected to the original high-minded goal. Then that group finds new loopholes and the the cycle repeats until the state commands all behaviour “for the good of the people”.

    It is a slippery slope line-drawing game moving inexorably toward zero freedom. When one person decides they’re smart enough to know what’s best for another, and then uses collective power to enforce that interpreatation of reality, the process begins.

    The logic is flawless. To me, the assumption is weak. At this level of civilization, there’s so much reliance on government (the functional arm of the state), people rarely even question whether the principle of interference is wise. Rather they spend lifetimes bickering about the “ideal” policies and “optimal” level of government. Certainly there is discomfort and even death in the non-state (free market), and it makes sense for caring people to want to do something to help those suffering. This principle, of compassion, is used to justify state action. But then there is suffering and death under the state, too. Which demands a bigger state to redistribute kindness.

    An escape from leviathan might be achieved when the individuals in society see that they can never really know what is best for others. They can guess, and give of themselves, but not compel others to follow.

  3. Matt:

    {Requiring exercise and banning smoking to reduce health care cost do make sense. If I’m going to pay for your health care it doesn’t seem like much to ask.}

    Except that you’re buying a bogus argument. In the U.S. government healthcare system, for instance, the single most expensive option you can pick is to exercise regularly and follow all the health nazi rules, thereby living to be 105. That means you spend about ten years in Medicade-funded long-term care and forty years drawing Social Security and Medicare benefits. These programs are going broke, but not because folks are dying too soon.

    A government health care system that was truly fiscally rational would provide free unfiltered cigarettes in junior high school.

  4. What if you work at home?

  5. Been here.
    Done this.

  6. Or drive a convertible company car?

  7. Larry: The financial outcome would be even rosier if we culled the weak. An annual national fitness test, not adjusted for age, with the bottom 10% consigned to “Transcendence Chambers”. Some might think it cruel, but the survivors would be buff and rich.

    I’m off to the gym…

  8. Healthy living is not expensive. It is well documented that the bulk of US healthcare dollars are spent on illnesses of the heart related to certain lifestyle choices (little/no exercise, smoking, poor diet, excessive drinking). My grandfather lived well and long only to drop dead of a stroke. He spent virtually nothing on healthcare. Anecdotal but statistically supported. Take a look at the CDC recent figures. The only way it is fiscally responsible to allow smoking is to continue the sin tax on tobacco. Something I don’t support.

  9. I must agree with Larry; financially, the more folks who smoke, the better off society is as a whole. A couple months back I quit smoking, and calculated on a Reason posting that between the tobacco tax dollars I no longer pay to the State and the seven extra years I can expect to collect a state pension, I personally have cost/will cost the state of Connecticut over $250,000 in 2004 dollars.

  10. And another thing: who really wants personal freedom to take a backseat to saving money for the government? Lots of folks, apparently. But not me.

  11. Jennifer,

    But did you gain weight after quitting?
    Maybe you WILL die early!

  12. Nobody-

    Actually, I was determined NOT to gain weight, so I forced myself to exercise more than I used to. I actually LOST two pounds, and I was underweight before I began.

    Yeah, I guess I AM bragging a little bit.

  13. Why is a smokers “right” to smoke more important than a non-smokers “right” to not be bothered by second hand smoke?

    Can someone with a better grasp of libertarian principles please explain it to a dumbass like me?

  14. Why is a smokers “right” to smoke more important than a non-smokers “right” to not be bothered by second hand smoke?

    How’s this for a reason: because if you start letting people say “I will not only stop behaviors which harm me, but those which merely BOTHER me,” you don’t have a free society?

    To quote a former Canadian Prime Minister: “If you’ve never been offended in public then you don’t live in a free society.” Hell, I’m offended by people who eat onions’n’beans and then go fart in the store where I’m trying to shop; but dealing with their flatulence is better than dealing with a government which would outlaw it.

  15. Your question is not the correct one to be asking, Mongo. There are two huge problems here. One is that the issue isn’t the right to smoke, it’s the right of private property owners to choose what is and is not acceptable in their own places of business. It’s a property right, not a smoker’s right that is the issue. The other problem is that the “right not to be bothered” exists nowhere, and should exist nowhere. This is particularly true in places that others own that you are not required to be in. The correct questions to ask would probably be something like this: Where does a customer get a legally enforcible right to command and control the environment of a business he or she doesn’t own? And where does the government get the power to issue those sorts of orders, regardless of what the public or the business owners themselves desire?

  16. Matthew, I think that your view of smoking in public is affected by your view that second-hand smoke really isn’t particularly harmful. Would you still not support restrictions on indoor smoking if second-hand smoke was in fact very dangerous? I believe it’s fine for law enforcement to be involved if a person is dispensing into the air some powerful carcinogen (say, one that is likely to cause cancer in 50% of those who inhale even a small amount). Now all you have to do is understand that many people believe second-hand smoke *is* very dangerous. This debate can’t be solved on principles alone; the facts are of vital importance.

  17. “Now all you have to do is understand that many people believe second-hand smoke *is* very dangerous.”

    They believe it, but it’s not true. Not one death from secondhand smoke.

  18. How long before it reaches the US?
    (I think NY city is already pretty much there)

    OT, I was hoping someone would comment on the NewOrleans police story, Fed court ruled that police can search without a warrant! WTH?

    http://www.theneworleanschannel.com/news/2953483/detail.html

  19. Well, they have made their law, but have they enshrined it in their Constitution (as “we” in the great state of Florida have?).

  20. Zorel-
    The New Orleans story scares the crap out of me; I read it on “Fark” last night. The thing that really bugs me is: I could MAYBE see the courts trying this if New Orleans had a shining police department full of Officer Friendly types, but every source I’ve read, left and right wing, agress that the NOPD, and Louisiana cops in general, are pretty damned corrupt.

    Hopefully the Supreme Court will overturn it on appeal. If not, then there’s serious reason to worry.

  21. This seems reasonable in relation to state funded health care. If the tax base is going to pay for procedures needed only because of certain chosen behaviors it is fiscally responsible to discourage those behaviors. Don’t the taxpayers have a right to make life hard on those who are wasting their money?

  22. Ahh,the smokeless smell of freedom.Who`s feedom?
    Now the cops can walk into my home (w/o 4th amd.)
    and check to make sure I`m not smoking.

  23. NOPD aren’t so bad, it’s the JP cops and the Highway Patrol who are real hardasses. Though a motorcycle cop did give me a ticket the other day on Claiborne for NOT WEARING A SEATBELT. It is a hoot though, to watch the mounted cops herd the idiots at Mardi Gras around, and to watch them beat the crap out of some out of town fratboy who throws a beer at them.

  24. NOPD aren’t so bad, it’s the JP cops and the Highway Patrol who are real hardasses. Though a motorcycle cop did give me a ticket the other day on Claiborne for NOT WEARING A SEATBELT. It is a hoot though, to watch the mounted cops herd the idiots at Mardi Gras around, and to watch them beat the crap out of some out of town fratboy who throws a beer at them.

  25. JP= Jefferson Parish?

  26. Matt, its not the smokers wasting the taxpayers’ money, its the legislators who impose collectivist solutions in place of market ones. Banning smoking to lower collective medical costs makes as much sense as requiring physical exercise for the same purpose.

    Call me weird, but when I walk into a room, and get that waft, if its a choice between second hand smoke and second hand farts, I’ll take the smoke.

  27. That’s about right. As has certainly been posted before (but apparently needs to be posted again), using one illegal power (federal control of the health care system) to justify taking more and more and more is circular and illogical. If one is willing to accept that line of “reasoning”, there can be absolutely no limits set on what government can and cannot do, since there is probably some sort of potential causal connection between absolutly any behavior, activity or food and one’s health. The argument for more government control is silly and ridiculous, and it’s frightening how many people seem either unwilling or unable to understand what the argument that they’re using to justify more government is really saying.

  28. Yeah, Jefferson Parish. And there’s also the St. Tammany cops in white bread Abita Springs who come down to sell guns to gangs in the Lower 9th Ward.

    Funny sidenote: Marlon Defillo, who promises the new powers won’t be abused, works out in the same college gym I do.

  29. Requiring exercise and banning smoking to reduce health care cost do make sense. If I’m going to pay for your health care it doesn’t seem like much to ask.

  30. Matt, please re-read the responses. Maybe the solution is for you to stop paying for my health care.

    We have a little town park here that was built by the citizens. We were asked to bring tools, building materials, and do a little “sweat equity, barn raising.”

    The result is a park that cost the town very little. And as to sweat equity? There is a sign saying no dogs, no smoking, no bicycles, etc..

    Until smokers are exempt from paying taxes, I don’t see why they can’t use their collective property.

  31. As far as I know the controll of public health care by the Irish government is not illegal. Also, they don’t have a constitutionally enshrined right to smoke anywhere they please. The ban obviously follows. I don’t need to reread the posts. I’m simply pointing out the Irish are reaping the rewards of their nanny state ideology. With the recent defeat of the French conservative government we can expect similar measures as they try and cope with the cost of their welfare state.

  32. when i was in ireland (all of three weeks ago) i was truly surprised to see how much smoking people *can* do, compared to the us, especially NY state and NYC in particular. hotels, bars, restaurants, etc. everyone in every pub seemed to be smoking…and considering how windy and often rainy it is there, i find it hard to believe people will be able to smoke outside at all. most of the pub owners i talked to about it (it was a frequent question once my residence was established) seemed resigned to losing 30 to 50 percent of their business for the first year.

  33. “Not one death from secondhand smoke.”

    If I shoot someone for blowing smoke in my face, would that count as death from secondhand smoke?

    I know, dumb question.

  34. Andy,

    You pulled the very same switch again. Most folks tend to simply change the subject rather than address the fundamental questions that necessarily come prior to any other considerations, and you’ve done just that. I don’t know how harmful second hand smoke is; no one else knows that with certainty either. That question really isn’t relevant in an honest debate about this topic, particularly since we do know with certainty that it doesn’t cause cancer at a 50% rate in those that only inhale a small amount. There is no way that a law like this can’t be passed without a strong legal and moral justification for the direct theft of a business owner’s rights. That’s the first and most important question, prior to all others. If one’s beliefs are that second hand smoke is extraordinarily dangerous, the logical solution would be to avoid the place of business that allows that sort of thing, not using government as a blunt instrument and sending men with guns to bend another citizen to your will. That’s the problem with this debate and many, many other current political debates; people change the subject rather than addressing neccessary first questions.

  35. How many of you folks who are sitting in front of your computers blogging on Hit&Run can afford to lose a few (or more) pounds?

    Because you guys will be next.

    And the hammer used to make you all exercise 2 hours a day whether you want to or not will be the legal outcomes of the anti-smoking jihadists!

  36. “A government health care system that was truly fiscally rational would provide free unfiltered cigarettes in junior high school.”

    Nah, why give away something when people would be willing to pay a market price for it. Besides, we need these slav-, er, kids to work long enough to pay for social security and medicare for the rest of us. Make the f’in kids pay. The profits from the cigarette machines would go straight to the schools.

    We need to start taxing foreigners living outside the country.

  37. Mongo:

    {Why is a smokers “right” to smoke more important than a non-smokers “right” to not be bothered by second hand smoke?}

    It isn’t. But then neither is a non-smokers right to not be bothered by second hand smoke more important than both a smokers right to smoke and a bar owner’s right to run his or her own business. And that’s what this law assumes.

    Let’s say there are ten bars in a town. Let’s say twenty percent of the bar patrons want to smoke while they drink, twenty percent don’t like secondhand smoke, and the other sixty percent don’t care. Under the Irish law every bar in town has to cater to the anti-smoking twenty percent.

    In a free market, two or three bars could set their own no smoking policy and gather all the customers who appreciate that. The non-smokers rights are thereby protected. One of the bars could set up as a cigar and pipe only venue for those particular folks. Another could set up hookahs if the demand was there. The rest could concentrate on attracting the majority of customers who don’t care about smoking with large sports video screens, scantily clad serving personnel, or whatever.

    Everyone’s rights are protected, and the government doesn’t even have to require that the bars label themselves, as they will do it voluntarily as part of their advertising.

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