Smoking ban: no need!

I’ve never smoked (tried pot once, choked on the tobacco) and I think that’s why I don’t support a ban. As Boris Johnson explains here, it’s mainly ex-smokers who want to ban smoking. If we want a free society, we have to accept other people’s lifestyle choices and that includes diet, exercise and, to my mind, smoking.

What’s problematic is that other’s choices have repercussions. Some people like to torture wild animals for fun and parliament’s right to say that ending such suffering is more important than indulging that fun. Where people have little choice, such as general workplaces, a ban on smoking is fair enough.

But smoking in pubs is very different. Here the externalities (costs borne by others) confront other people who have choices. Furthermore, markets are no more than by-products of human activity – they aggregate our choices – and externalities can be factored into markets through taxation. Costs, including those borne by the NHS, can be identified and covered by tax on tobacco. Markets are only effective when they’re educated, so the cost of educating people as to the risks of active and passive smoking can also be factored in.

With this approach, there’s no need to ban smoking from venues like pubs, where those who bear the costs (like me) choose to put themselves in that situation. Those who don’t want a smoky atmosphere will create demand for smoke-free pubs for the pub companies to respond to.

One thought on “Smoking ban: no need!

  1. I do agree with this – in that, like everything else, it’s all about supply and demand. And there does appear to be a real demand for smoke-free pubs. Unlike not allowing people to smoke on planes (which is also a safety risk), there’s no reason why both smoking and non-smoking pubs can’t co-exist.

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