UK: "Smokers would have to get a licence to light up under the plan"

The BBC reports on licensing for smokers in the UK:

No one would be able to buy cigarettes without the permit, under the idea proposed by Health England.
Its chairman, Professor Julian Le Grand, told BBC Radio 5 Live the scheme would make a big difference to the number of people giving up smoking.

But smokers' rights group Forest described the idea as "outrageous", given how much tax smokers already pay.
Professor Le Grand, a former adviser to ex-PM Tony Blair, said cash raised by the proposed scheme would go to the NHS. . . . .



Jason Lewis Gives Inspired Commentary on Private Property and Smoking Bans

Jason Lewis commentary on KTLK can be listened to here. The discussion is from yesterday. This segment is an hour long, but it is worth it. Jason's other shows can be found here.

His discussion on the enforcement of smoking bans by relying on neighbors reminded me of a trip to Sweden in 1979. There was a public campaign against people getting drunk and neighbors were asked to turn in neighbors who were getting drunk in their home. I was stunned at the time to see police forceably removing people from their homes based on being informed on by their neighbors, but the Swedes that I was with thought that it was all entirely reasonable because people didn't have the right to harm their own bodies when others had to foot their healthcare bills.

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Problably the last place where it be legal to smoke in your office

Smoking has become the hot topic on Capitol Hill.
Who is, who isn't, and where the lawmakers puff -- closeted or not -- are among the whispers in the hallways and on the presidential campaign trail.
There have been at least 35 news reports about Sen. Barack Obama's long battle with a cigarette habit, and how the Illinois Democrat has been chewing Nicorette to kick that habit as he runs for president.
And in the latest installment, staffers for Rep. Keith Ellison tattled to Capitol Police that Rep. Tom Tancredo was smoking a cigar inside his congressional office. . . .
An officer investigating the report informed Mr. Ellison, Minnesota Democrat, that smoking is allowed in the private offices, the Hill newspaper first reported yesterday.

It is somewhat amusing that Tancredo and Ellison have offices right next to each other.

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The "Bogus" Science of Secondhand Smoke

This person must be really hated among medical people, but my guess that he is sufficiently only that he is willing to go against the political correctness on the smoking issue. Look at his background: "former deputy director of the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Cause and Prevention, and he received the U.S. Public Health Service Superior Service Award in 1976 for his efforts to define less hazardous cigarettes."

In any case, from an economist's point of view, the entire debate over secondhand smoke is largely besides the point when it comes to these regulations. The question an economist would ask is whether whatever harm from the secondhand smoke in born by the smoker, and the answer is that there is not a problem as long as someone owns the air. In a restaurant or other building someone clearly owns the air and bears the cost of allowing the air to have more smoke in it than their customers desire. Some people may like to smoke with their meals and they will pay to do it and others might want perfectly clean air. Even if you only had one restaurant in town, the restaurant owner has a strong incentive to give the customers who value the type of air the most what they want.

Smoking cigarettes is a clear health risk, as most everyone knows. But lately, people have begun to worry about the health risks of secondhand smoke. Some policymakers and activists are even claiming that the government should crack down on secondhand smoke exposure, given what "the science" indicates about such exposure.

Last July, introducing his office's latest report on secondhand smoke, then-U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona asserted that "there is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure," that "breathing secondhand smoke for even a short time can damage cells and set the cancer process in motion," and that children exposed to secondhand smoke will "eventually . . . develop cardiovascular disease and cancers over time."

Such claims are certainly alarming. But do the studies Carmona references support his claims, and are their findings as sound as he suggests?

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