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Monday, July 23, 2007

Want to smoke? Go to hell!

India (and I mean the State) has now determined that tobacco is a vile evil that needs to be driven out of it. I am sure that Union Health Minister A Ramadoss has absolutely purely altruistic reasons for his decisions, and his getting awarded by the WHO for anti-tobacco activities has nothing to do with a desire for more of the same. Now the Minister wants 65% of his male population (the smokers) to come out on the roads, or go home, and smoke. If he had bothered asking the Public Works Minister he would have been warned that there are not that many roads and homes in India to accomodate these many guys. He wants the men to smoke at home, but only if the maidservant (as his employee) permits. Er, what happens if I defy your order, sir?
“All places of work in the country will be declared smoke -free and those found flouting the law will be strictly punished. This rule will apply wherever there are employees working”. Yeah, like how people wanting to smoke in trains walk till the coach where all the Railway Police chaps sit and smoke bidis.
Smoking in public is bad for others' health, as science says. However, smoking within one's private property has to be within one's individual rights, and if there are others within one's private space, their right to breathe clean air is secondary at that point of time to the right of the owner to allow smoking. The non-smokers have to put up with it, or go to a place which is smoke-free. It is a different thing in a public space. In other words, banning smoking in restaurants and pubs, which are the property of individuals, is violating their rights as individual property owners.
As always, smokers are milch cows for politicians, because women voters will support anti-smoking activities (at least in India, where ladies don’t normally smoke), and revenues from taxation will continue to pour in. It has been proposed to discriminate against smokers for elective surgery in Government hospitals under the NHS, which I have discussed in an article in The Telegraph.
I have no particular axe to grind for smokers, but I am opposed to social engineering by the State anywhere. This is now a holy cow the world over. I have a whacky thought: when man colonises the moon, will smoking be disallowed even in outer space? What about Hell? Hello??


sree said...

ok..the state should not ban it.
what about the restaurant management if they want to keep their restaurant a 'non-smoking' place?

B. Ramana said...

Of course, Sree! the owner has the right to prevent anyone from lighting up within his premises.

Mahendra said...

Well said, I fully agree!