They want to com­pletely re­move the in­di­vid­ual au­ton­omy of grown adults and pri­vate busi­nesses

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE - War on smok­ing: Reilly

they went out for a drink? Leav­ing aside the num­ber of pubs which were forced to close in the wake of the ban (were job losses and fore­clo­sures an “un­in­tended con­se­quence” as well?) any­one with even a ba­sic grasp of hu­man na­ture could have told the pro­hi­bi­tion­ists that this was ex­actly what would hap­pen.

The only rea­son I am re­luc­tant to call Reilly and his ilk a bunch of sin­gle-is­sue fa­nat­ics is be­cause he’d prob­a­bly thank me for the com­pli­ment — af­ter all, he has pre­vi­ously de­scribed to­bacco com­pa­nies as ‘evil’ and pompously de­clared ‘war’ on smok­ing.

In true tin­pot-tyrant fash­ion, they are de­ter­mined to make Ire­land ‘smoke free’ by 2025 — an idea that is lu­di­crous, to­tal­i­tar­ian and, like all their plans, un­work­able.

The prob­lem with th­ese ideas is that they want to com­pletely re­move the in­di­vid­ual au­ton­omy of grown adults and pri­vate busi­nesses and con­cen­trate all such de­ci­sions in the hands of the State.

If a pri­vate bar or restau­rant wants to ac­com­mo­date smok­ers in their out­side ar­eas, that is an is­sue between the pa­trons and the man­age­ment. If peo­ple are stay­ing away from their place be­cause of smok­ing, they won’t al­low it. That is en­tirely their call to make. You see, the mar­ket al­ways works things out far bet­ter than any politi­cian, even a colos­sus like James Reilly, ever could.

This is an is­sue which goes far be­yond the in­di­vid­ual’s right to smoke (for the record, I hate peo­ple smok­ing while oth­ers are eat­ing).

This is about a politi­cian see­ing some­thing he doesn’t like — say, chil­dren be­ing ex­posed to the shock­ing sight of some­one hav­ing a fag — and de­cid­ing he wants to ban it.

It’s a ban which will ul­ti­mately shut smok­ing ar­eas and the fact that Si­mon Har­ris couldn’t rule out the ban be­ing ex­tended to open air gigs is a clear sign that they’re next on the list.

Not con­tent with that, Wed­nes­day even saw Reilly de­mand that su­per­mar­kets like Tesco and Su­perValu ac­tu­ally stop sell­ing cig­a­rettes be­cause they “should be providers of nour­ish­ment and nu­tri­tional goods”.

Th­ese peo­ple don’t even speak like the rest of us, although I do like the idea of Reilly stalk­ing the aisles of his lo­cal Tesco and freak­ing out when­ever he sees a prod­uct that is in­suf­fi­ciently “nour­ish­ing and nu­tri­tional”. This isn’t about health, no more than the sugar tax is about health — this week’s ad­mis­sion that the funds raised would go into the gen­eral ex­che­quer rather than be ring fenced is proof of that.

Fun­da­men­tally, this is about the con­tempt the pow­ers-that-be (or the pow­er­sthat-were, in the former Min­is­ter’s case) have for the rest of us.

It shows their in­her­ent dis­dain for in­di­vid­ual choices and dis­plays a sin­is­ter mind­set which would see them dic­tate how the rest of us live our lives.

I bet the il­le­gal cig­a­rette hawk­ers love the idea of ban­ning smokes from su­per­mar­kets — there’s an­other ‘un­in­tended con­se­quence’ for ye, James...

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