England Goes the Way of Ireland


No more smoky pubs in England, where Parliament voted this week to ban smoking in all public indoor locations. As with similar measures in the U.S., the ban was sold as an employee protection measure. But it's clear that, from a "public health" point of view, the main goal is not protecting bystanders from secondhand smoke so much as protecting smokers from themselves. Patricia Hewitt, the British health secretary, explicitly likens the smoking ban to a paradigmatic example of paternalism:

The government says around 600,000 people will give up smoking when the new law is enforced. "This bill is going to save thousands of people's lives," Ms. Hewitt said, comparing the ban to the legal requirement to wear safety belts in cars.