Isn’t it stupid to let a 50 year old smoke and someone 44 not? | Letters

Isn’t it stupid to let a 50 year old smoke and someone 44 not?  |  Letters
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I read with interest Prof. Chris Whitty’s article (This new bill could eradicate smoking – the only losers are those who benefit from it, April 16). I have the utmost respect for his medical expertise; I do not have any. I am an ex-smoker and started young. I am not against legislation that changes behavior in general. But the prospect of a 50-year-old having to buy cigarettes for a 44-year-old in thirty years’ time is practical nonsense. Ban smoking, or don’t do it. I see no justification for the law going forward to consider a 50 year old as capable of understanding the risks of smoking and purchasing tobacco, but not a 44 year old.

We already know (among other things) from the war on drugs that the end result of prohibition is a black market; This will be as true for cigarettes for younger generations as it is now for recreational drugs. How much time and money will the police waste trying to tackle that market in the future?

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Being a doctor, I understand where Prof. Whitty’s views come from, and I agree with the assessment that this will deter some young people from ever taking up the practice. What I fear is that an unregulated black market selling cigarettes that are not subject to quality control and may be adulterated will cause more deaths in the longer term, both directly and indirectly, because police time that could be better used, instead it focuses on tackling a problem of our own creation.
Torran Turner
Littleborough, Greater Manchester

Your report says that some of the more libertarian members of the government, such as Kemi Badenoch, argue that restrictions on cigarette purchasing are an infringement on personal freedom (Saving us from our own: how Britain is learning to accept the nanny state, 19 April).

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Badenoch is part of a government that has just committed the biggest attack on personal freedom in my lifetime by criminalizing various forms of peaceful protest. Apparently you can now be charged with a public order offense if you hold a sign or walk slowly on a public road. The next step will be an arrest for looking at a police officer in a funny way.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental part of any human rights law. Freedom to smoke does not exist. But it is interesting that Badenoch thinks it is more important to defend the rights of smokers and force me to endure passive smoking than to stand up for my right to freedom of expression. It’s interesting what people who think they are libertarians like to defend and what they want to address. A future leader of the Conservative Party? God help us all.
Dave Pollard
Leicester

Simon Jenkins (April 19) says New Zealand’s smoking ban laws have been repealed due to unpopularity and a change in government. In fact, it was hugely popular with the public (as in Britain), and its withdrawal was not in the National Party’s election manifesto. The change came about under pressure from lobby groups backed by the tobacco industry, and the insistence of junior coalition partner New Zealand First.

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He also plays down the continuing impact of cigarettes in Britain. Although there has been a slow but steady decline since the 1970s, we have recently heard how rates are rising among some groups. This ban would protect future generations from one of the leading causes of preventable death and disease. Concerns about authoritarianism and its spread to other personal choices are fear mongering.
Richard Thorley
Exeter

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