The Corner

British Medical Association Moves to Ban Smoking

One of the well-documented problems with socialized medicine is that its establishment inevitably expands the number of areas into which the state can legitimately begin to interfere with your life. Big whisky drinker? In a free market, that doesn’t matter. Good for you. But when others are picking up the tab, they are afforded some right to ask if you would consider consuming less. The same goes for sugary drinks, dangerous sports, and . . . well, pretty much anything you can imagine. As I discovered in Britain, in countries with single-payer regimes, eventually almost any activity will be reduced to the sum of its medical externalities. No, we don’t mind in theory if you want to smoke cigars. But now we’re all paying for it, we’d rather you didn’t.

The news that the British Medical Association (which plays roughly the same role within Britain’s National Health Service as do the teachers unions in America’s education system) is looking to quite literally ban smoking should thus come as no surprise to anybody paying attention. Per the BBC:

Smoking should be banned for anyone born in the UK in the 21st Century, doctors say.

Delegates at the British Medical Association (BMA) annual conference voted in favour of a motion to prohibit smoking to anyone born after 2000.

The BMA is now expected to start lobbying government to agree to the move.

Doctors argued tough action was needed because most smokers became hooked at a young age.

Public health doctor Dr Tim Crocker-Buque said it was essential to protect the young as 80% of smokers took up the habit when they were teenagers and “almost all” had taken up the habit by the time they were in their early 20s.

Note the brutality of this proposal: The BMA doesn’t just wish to violate Britons’ individual liberty; it wishes to create a caste system in the process. Equal protection of the laws, be damned. We have an outcome to reach. 

Perhaps the worst part of this instinct is how capriciously it is applied in practice. Ultimately, socialized medicine permits those who are in charge of the state to export their mores to the nation at large. What the ruling class likes, it will subsidize; what it does not like, it will prohibit. The Left, for example, will not permit any restrictions whatsoever on sexual behavior — however expensive might be the consequences. Thus is everybody expected to pay the costs of those who behave irresponsibly. But those activities it disdains — smoking, for example? Sorry, but they’re too costly to allow. In this manner is the link between liberty and responsibility broken, and are individual choices reduced to the decisions of a few smug “health experts.”

You can’t socialize medicine without socializing people. Watch out, America. That ship is sailing here.


The Latest