ARPHS (why not say ARS) calls for what is effectively a ban on smoking anywhere but in one’s own home, which looks to me quite simply as the sort of nanny state authoritarian bullying that I thought was voted out in the last election. However, it would be a fair bet that those who “work” for that organisation are unlikely to have much philosophical truck with personal freedom.
The thought process appears alarmingly simple:
People smoke - it is bad for them - it's already illegal to allow smoking at places of employment, retail outlets and on public transport, so let's make it illegal everywhere else, except the home (that would be seen as too far).
Banning something that is bad for people is good. The very idea that perhaps it is morally wrong to do this appears to have not crossed their minds, after all it's for the "greater good" (as is the justification for all limitations on personal freedom). Fascists? Well, they wouldn't think so, they just think they are acting for the interests of others. However, they are treating the public as children. It's only one step removed from treating tobacco like an illegal drug.
So what should the response be to this?
Should it be to ask whether a study has been made as to the health benefits to non-smokers of the measures proposed? If not, why not? Why not come clean about what “public good” there allegedly is, or is there really none at all? I suspect the health benefits to non-smokers are virtually undetectable, after all the emissions from motor vehicles are in greater volumes and significantly more toxic (smokers don't die from a lung full of tobacco smoke, but you wont last long intentionally inhaling petrol exhaust).
Should it be to ask to what extent these measures are likely to reduce smoking? If not, why not? How about noting how effective these measures are at reducing illegal drug use?
Why are you not simply being honest about wanting to criminalise smoking other than in the private home? Or does that just show you up for what you are, as petty fascists wanting to change behaviour by force rather than persuasion?
Or, how about simply asking why the hell they think it is their business what adults do with their bodies on their own property or in public spaces?
Clearly the public health bureaucrats have no clue what private property means, and what private property rights mean, for long ago they surrendered the idea that you can decide whether or not to allow otherwise legal acts on your property.
However, they also seek to control public space. To have people prosecuted for smoking as a way of reducing the propensity to smoke. The idea that there are adults who voluntarily choose to smoke because they like it would bewilder them all.
How can people LIKE harming themselves? Well the joyless do-gooders who think they know best for everyone else can't grasp that not everything everyone does is “good” for them. Some people drink to excess, some people eat to excess and don’t exercise. Some people have unsafe sex. Some people take illegal drugs. Some people participate in dangerous sports.
The proportion of smokers who do not know it is bad for their health will be very low, so it isn't about that. Tobacco smoking has addictive qualities, but plenty give up smoking and the state has used other people's money for some years subsidising methods to do this. So the conclusion is that people smoke because they enjoy it.
People have freedom to choose to smoke or not smoke. Those who do should have that right on their own property or with the permission of property owners. Those who do not like it should prohibit it on their own property and not enter places where it occurs. Public (as in local and central government owned) locations should be places where people can peacefully go about their activities without initiating force against others, that includes smoking.
The only appropriate response to this proposal is incredulity.
It demonstrates the profound need for all policy proposals to government to be subject to a test of whether it enhances or detracts from individual liberty, and whether it represents the initiation of force or defending citizens from initiations of force or fraud. Such a simple test would see such proposals dumped in the inbox of the Labour, Green and Maori Parties who think that individuals are a means to an end, not an end in themselves.
While we're at it, abolishing the Auckland Regional Public Health Service would make a modest contribution to reducing the budget deficit.