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And also smoking Dec 05

Apparently the smoking age might rise to 18. I’m not going to say that’s a bad idea, regardless of issues of personal liberty, but then I’m 26 and don’t smoke. However, there were a couple of things that struck me…

Campaigners argue bringing the law on cigarettes into line with that on alcohol would reduce under-age smokers.

Of course it wouldn’t. It might reduce the number of under-16s smoking, but by definition under-age would mean under-18s after the change and I imagine there will be more under-18s smoking then than there are under-16s smoking now, if only because there are two more years’ worth of teenagers to factor in.

A poll conducted last year for the BBC found that four out of five people backed lifting the legal age to 18.

Of the 1,010 adults surveyed, 55% said the minimum age should go up to 21.

“Hello, I’m doing a poll. Are you over the age of X?”
“Do you think privilege Y should only be available to those over the age of X?”
“Yes, yes I do.”
“Gosh, what a surprising result. I must write that up immediately.”

5 Responses

  1. 1

    Interesting problem for us Lib Dems who

    – believe in reducing the voting age
    – put forward the proposition that all ages of majority whould be aligned
    – but do not believe that anyone should be allowed to smoke in pubs.

    The poll seems to be a way of asking the question “do you believe that anyone should smoke”. The answer to this is “no”.

    Ask the question “do you think people who buy cigarettes and are not aged 18 should be prosecuted by the police?” and you would get a diffenent answer. Personally, I think that the same would apply to a poll on hunting.

  2. 2
    Steve Guy 

    The problem with total smoking bans is that they are, by definition, illiberal. The only ‘liberal’ solution to protecting everyones rights and freedoms is a policy of ‘seperate areas’. However, it is more ‘fashionable’ to support toal bans. Lib Dems need to ensure that all of their policies adhere to our fundamental values which are freedom and fairness.

  3. 3

    This proposal wouldn’t have seen the light of day if it wasn’t for the looming labour backbench rebellion over a total smoking ban. I’ll lay a early bet that a rebellion amends the bill anyway and we get lumbered with this age increase anyway.

    My own view is this demonstrates the urgent need to pick an age and equalise all adult rights/responsibilities at it. How can any one seriously argue that a 16 year is old enough to have sex but not a cigertte afterwoods? silly example, serious point.

  4. 4

    Be careful not to mix apples and oranges. Puberty gives sex its own imperative, whatever the state may try to do, so I regard that as a special case. Voting is a civic responsibility which could and should be exercised by 16-year-olds, as could other duties/responsibilities. However, the regulation of harmful substances like tobacco and alcohol need have nothing to do with the maturity of users, but be tied instead to wider societal health goals.

  5. Jersey, Channel Islands increased the age to buy cigarettes from 16 to 18 earlier this year and by the end of next year will have a full ban on smoking in any work place (including pubs and clubs).

    Since they increased the age I’ve noticed a massive increase in the number of teenagers asking me to buy them cigarettes – I don’t of course – before it was 13/14 year olds asking – now they don’t even bother – it’s the 16/17 year olds that ask me now.

    As for the smoking ban – the way I see it is that by stopping smoking in pubs and bars you are giving back a freedom NOT to breath smoke to the people that have to work there and the people that might want to go there but can’t because of the smoking.

    It’s better to stop people doing something that affects others than make people that might be affected go and sit somewhere else.