The Way to Oppose Tobacco Control – Do Not Accept Epidemiology

A short post tonight – I need to be up early tomorrow.

I was reading Simon Clark’s Forest blog a couple of days ago (see sidebar). He described how he was approached for a comment about a suggestion that golfers playing in major tournaments which were on TV. and who smoked on the golf course, were giving a bad example. His reply was that golfers engaged in these tournaments were individuals who were quite entitled to smoke in the open air if they wished to do so.

That is the obvious reply and was correct.


That led me to think.

It seems to me that everyone who supports liberty must adopt the same position when on TV or Radio or in print. Whenever people like Simon are invited onto such programmes or invited to comment in newspapers, it is always because some Zealots have made a generalised, ‘one size fits all’ demand. The subject might be tobacco, alcohol, sugar, salt, trans-fats (whatever they might be) or some other generalised ‘harmful’ substance, and they always blame the producers. Thus, if it is true that people take in too much sugar, it is the fault of those who manufacture ‘sugary drinks’ or whatever. 

What we see and hear from the Zealots is almost always epidemiological, whole-population effects. That means, from their point of view, that the only solution to ‘the problem’ is whole-population control. Sugary drinks must be banned completely in order to affect that small portion of the whole population who over-indulge in sugary drinks. That is a powerful argument but it is hopelessly wrong. It is wrong because it applies only to those who actually over-indulge in sugary drinks excessively, along with lots of chomping on crisps and such.

Thus, there is a simple attitude that anti-Zealots should adopt. That attitude is that whatever matter is being discussed, be it smoking, drinking, eating or whatever, the REALITY is not ‘whole population’ averages, but is individual.

Thus, as regards alcoholics, a number of possibilities come to mind:

1. An alcoholic could ask for help.

2. A person could seek out such an alcoholic and offer help.

3. Alcohol could be banned for everyone.

The Zealots are promoting the last alternative, even if it is disguised as ‘minimum pricing’.


There is an incestuous relationship between the Zealot organisations and Government, and it is easy to see why this is so. Politicians can only act on the ‘whole population’, which is what the Zealots utilise. Even when Politicians seem to direct their dictats to sub-sectors of the population, the reality is that the dictats affect ALL the population individually.

The fact that ought to be recognised is that the Universities which produce studies can only indicate general trends. Those trends do not mean that population-level solutions are credible.


So, whenever Libertarians are faced with Prohibitionists in the media, they must immediately propel the argument into the the rights of INDIVIDUALS.  


2 Responses to “The Way to Oppose Tobacco Control – Do Not Accept Epidemiology”

  1. Frank J Says:

    “and it is easy to see why this is so.”

    Very easy, indeed. Blair’s ‘third sector’ i.e. taxpayer funded to perform the job that Govt. wants – mustering all sorts to give the impression the public want whatever it is they’re being paid to propagate, even though the public are rarely asked.

    Incestuous doesn’t describe it. Crooked is more the word.

    • junican Says:

      I don’t think that ‘the third sector’ really exists. It is an invented phrase to cover underhand tactics, as you suggest. I don’t understand why Cameron and Clegg did not immediately set about dismantling it. Was that what they meant when they talked about the bonfire of the quangos? I suppose that, once they gained power, they found that these organisations could be very useful to them also.

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