Ten Pounds of Tyranny Or Licensed to Kill?

Published February 27, 2008

The Guardian’s social affairs editor, John Carvel (“Ten Pound Government Plan to Deter Smokers,” February 15, 2008) may have paid inadvertent homage to Ian Fleming, creator of 007-James Bond mythology, with his latest coverage of tobacco smoking hysteria in the United Kingdom.

Under new anti-tobacco social mandates suggested by Health England’s ministerial advisory board, cigarette smokers in England could be legally allowed to smoke only after paying for a “smoker’s license” at a cost of approximately 10 pounds. Julian LeGrand, former senior health advisor to Prime Minister Tony Blair, issued a white paper championing “licensing and fees” as a strategy for encouraging tobacco smokers to quit.

In their best 007-tradition, Health England administrators have falsely intimated with charm, smoke, and mirrors that there is a direct relationship between environmental tobacco smoke and cancer in so-called “passive smokers.” They likely know that 10 years ago the World Health Organization found no causal relationship between environmental tobacco smoke and cancer consequences in children or spouses exposed to second-hand smoke in the homes of smokers. Ditto for workplace cancer incidence due to ETS exposure at work.

The International Agency of Research on Cancer at WHO concluded that the risk of developing cancer was “actually lower for children raised in a home where one or both parents smoked.” This finding was no secret to the Health England bureaucrats. The European edition of the Wall Street Journal reported on the WHO study in an article by Lorraine Mooney (“Smoking Out Bad Science,” March 12, 1998).

If the Health England administrators in fact believe that ETS is lethal, their new proposal essentially amounts to a “license to kill.” While 007 might be honored, this is no movie. This policy proposal should be rejected before someone gets hurt.

Ralph W. Conner ([email protected]) is local legislation manager for The Heartland Institute.