THEY’VE become modern-day pariahs, earning scorn and derision with every flick of a lighter.
The civil rights of smokers to engage in a legal activity in public have slowly been eroded by rampant over-regulation and nanny state hysteria.
Cigarettes are taxed to the hilt, packets are plastered with graphic warnings and our TV screens are awash with ads featuring cancer-riddled ex-smokers.
“No smoking” signs are now ubiquitous – in workplaces, playgrounds, pubs, shopping centres and on public transport. And if a Wagga councillor gets his way, the CBD could soon be smoke-free too.
Cr Greg Conkey wants to explore the possibility of banning smoking in the CBD and the city’s parks and gardens.
Cr Conkey, a solid performer in his first term on council, should be commended for trying to make a positive influence on the health of his constituents and the aesthetic of the city. But by seeking to extend further our already draconian smoking laws, he risks violating two fundamental tenets of Australian society – tolerance and freedom.
The rights of smokers are the same as all other people – they have self-ownership, and have the right to do what they like with their body, even if it’s harmful. The government is not responsible for our private lifestyle choices. And forcing the will of the majority onto a minority is not healthy for a democracy.
Yes, smoking in public places is a concern.
But the unchecked erosion of a person’s basic rights is far more concerning.
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