Ayn Rand has been on my mind the last couple of days because her birthday would have been just a couple of days ago. Being on my mind I decided to go to The Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights and saw this: Anti-Smoking Paternalism: A Cancer on American Liberty. Here’s some passages from the piece:
Newport Beach is considering banning smoking in a variety of new places, potentially including parks and outdoor dining areas. This is just the latest step in a widespread war on smoking by federal, state, and local governments–a campaign that includes massive taxes on cigarettes, advertising bans, and endless lawsuits against tobacco companies. This war is infecting America with a political disease far worse than any health risk caused by smoking; it is destroying our freedom to make our own judgments and choices.
According to the anti-smoking movement, restricting people’s freedom to smoke is justified by the necessity of combating the “epidemic” of smoking-related disease and death. Cigarettes, we are told, kill hundreds of thousands each year, and expose countless millions to secondhand smoke. Smoking, the anti-smoking movement says, in effect, is a plague, whose ravages can only be combated through drastic government action.
And a little later on:
Implicit in the war on smoking, however, is the view that the government must dictate the individual’s decisions with regard to smoking, because he is incapable of making them rationally. To the extent the anti-smoking movement succeeds in wielding the power of government coercion to impose on Americans its blanket opposition to smoking, it is entrenching paternalism: the view that individuals are incompetent to run their own lives, and thus require a nanny-state to control every aspect of those lives.
This state is well on its way: from trans-fat bans to bicycle helmet laws to prohibitions on gambling, the government is increasingly abridging our freedom on the grounds that we are not competent to make rational decisions in these areas–just as it has long done by paternalistically dictating how we plan for retirement (Social Security) or what medicines we may take (the FDA).
Great article, provides a lot to think about on a Saturday.