Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Smoking ban in cars with kids? Bring it on!

I know it'll be difficult to enforce. And I'm a firm believer in the principle of not passing laws unless you're prepared to make a reasonable effort to ensure that they're followed. Heaven knows there are enough laws out there (or there are here) that no-one seems to want to police, like dropping litter, letting dogs foul the footpath or getting blind drunk in the park. Did you know it's also illegal to import Polish potatoes? Or that putting a stamp on an envelope the wrong way round is considered an act of treason?

But I digress. Freedom to put someone else at risk ain't freedom in my book, and just because you're behind the wheel of your car doesn't mean you have the right to put other people in danger. You don't have the right to offend my eardrums either with your axle-shaking music or your mortar-sized exhaust that makes your car sound like a fighter jet. You don't have the right to risk clipping my bike as you drive by because you've got one eye (and one hand) on your mobile phone; you don't have the right to park your car across the footpath forcing me and my fellow pedestrians to walk on the road; you don't have the right to jump the lights or race or do any of the other things that put life and limb in danger. And that's why you're not free to indulge in such behaviour. Because such things are known dangers, as is smoking. And moaning about your civil liberties doesn't make a jot of difference.

Protesting that banning such behaviour is an infringement of your rights or a dictatorial extension of the state are well wide of the mark too. This is not the same as protesting against a risk-averse, health and safety obsessed and creeping nanny-state. Personally, I do think kids should climb trees, play conkers, swim in rivers and so on. Because they're fun. Risky, yes. But fun. And you can't tell me that being made to breathe others people's tobacco smoke is 'fun'.

So, bring it on. Bring on the ban. Add it to the long list of other cherished liberties we've lost, like the right to beat our wives, the freedom to send our kids up chimneys and the liberty to lock up those whose views we disagree with.

And let's repeal a few hundred other silly laws to make sure there's some chance of enforcing it.
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