Post-Punk Icon Joe Jackson on The Nanny State, Smoking Bans, & His Next Musical Adventure


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"A smoking ban in bars is saying that adult citizens are not allowed to use a legal substance even though they're very highly taxed for doing so in a place that is private property," explains Joe Jackson, the hitmeister behind indelible tunes such as "Look Sharp!," "Is She Really Going Out With Him?," and, yes, "(Everything Gives You) Cancer."

Jackson's not a smoker himself but he insists that smoking bans and other for-your-own-good restrictions infantalize us all and challenge basic concepts of freedom. "You're throwing out the window the property right of the owner of that establishment, freedom of choice, a lot of things, compared to a health risk [from second- and third-hand smoke] that is really unproven."

Jackson's antipathy for the creeping nanny state in his native England and his longtime home of New York City led him to write a meticulously researched essay called "Smoking, Lies and The Nanny State." It also led him to finally flee New York and London, setting up residence in Berlin because there he at least feels like he is relatively "free" and "treated like an adult."

Jackson sat down with's Nick Gillespie and talked about his frustrations as an anti-smoking ban activist, the "gathering storm of prohibitionism," and the bold and risky evolutions of his signature musical style over the years.

Runs about 7.30 minutes.

Shot by Meredith Bragg, Jim Epstein and Anthony L. Fisher. Edited by Anthony L. Fisher.

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