In the British parliament on June 22nd, 2011, there was a debate about a new law to ban smoking in cars where children are present. Sean Gabb is the director of an educational charity called “The Libertarian Alliance”. As director, he was invited by BBC radio to give his comments. In his comments, he gives the reasons why he thinks smoking should not be banned in cars. It is important to understand that Sean Gabb himself does not smoke and does not think smoking is a healthy habit. It is not because he wants to be able to smoke in his car, therefore, that he is against this bill.
He gives three reasons for being against it:
- In support of this bill, it is claimed that 300,000 children in Britain suffer from “passive smoking”. [The BBC article says that”More than 430,000 children are exposed to second-hand smoke in cars each week, according to the British Lung Foundation”.] However, Sean Gabb doubts this number. How is this number calculated? Is it even possible to calculate this accurately? He gives other examples of “scientific” numbers which have been given in the past and which have been proved to be false: the number of people who would die of AIDS, the number of deaths from mad cow disease, and the numbers about global warming. None of these numbers were accurate. Why should we believe the numbers of children who are harmed by passive smoking?
- Mr Gabb has big doubts about many of the government numbers. Always, they seem to be excuses for higher taxes or for more laws the restrict the actions of citizens; in other words, we get less freedom and have to pay more taxes. Both of these are things most people do not want.
- Mr Gabb is suspicious about any argument that is made supposedly to protect children. There are many arguments made with this rationale. Yet many laws that are passed in order to “protect the children” actually have another purpose which has no connection with children: the purpose is to reduce the freedom of adults. However, the argument “we must protect the children” is one that has a strong emotional appeal and will convince many people.
To summarise, Mr. Gabb is against this bill because it will restrict and reduce the freedom of adults, and also he does not believe that children are harmed by “passive smoking”; at least he does not believe the number given by the government, of 300,000 children harmed in the UK.
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