The latest anti-smoking ruse in the erstwhile Land of the Free is forcing shopkeepers to show graphic posters of various smoking-related diseases. As Simon Waxman says in the Boston Globe, this is an act of compelled speech and yet another intrusion on individual liberty.
Waxman (presumably no relation to Henry) asks the age-old question: 'Where Will It End?'
What will be next? We all know that these posters will not eliminate smoking in Massachusetts. Will smokers at some point be required upon purchase of cigarettes to sign notices indicating that they recognize the health risks? Perhaps we will demand that they watch videos of surgeries or smokers on their deathbeds.
Or perhaps we could compel smokers to buy a licence—an idea that was seriously mooted in Britain not too long ago.
Antismoking crusaders have established a goal of zero. Ultimately, they want smoking to be illegal, but if this cannot be achieved, they will go to increasingly invasive and degrading lengths to ensure that every smoker quits “voluntarily.’’
Even those who support draconian smoking bans are starting to realise that the issue has never been secondhand smoke and it certainly isn't about children.
Yet many do not seem to care about this narrowing of individual liberty. This is what we exchange for the opportunity to harangue fellow adults about their private choices.
Some proponents of these posters and other extremist antismoking measures would reply that they are primarily concerned with youth smoking.
Very well. That is why it is illegal to sell and market cigarettes to minors. At some point, we must recognize that we have done all we reasonably can to insulate youth from smoking and that in ostracizing adults, we only create pariahs in our communities.
What is more, how can it be ethical to harass adults for the ostensible benefit of children? Human beings do not have greater moral worth as children than as adults. An adult’s freedom to pursue legal activities in peace shouldn’t be sabotaged because some of his peers want a different lifestyle for their children.
These posters represent merely the latest indignity that smokers must suffer in order to shield radical nonsmokers from behaviors that disgust them. But it’s not the government’s job to protect people from offense, and existing laws in the Commonwealth are adequate to guard nonsmokers from secondhand smoke. It’s time antismoking zealots stopped shouting and gave their lungs a rest.
I strongly recommend reading the whole piece. I agree with every word of it and it's refreshing to see the mainstream media making the case against the fanatics so explicitly.