Tijdens een seminar dat op 3 october in de VS werd gehouden gingen drie sprekers in op het verschijnsel ‘roker’.
Jane Gravelle, een econome bij de Congressional Research Service, beschreef hoe de kosten van roken werden omgerekend naar belastingen. Jacob Sullum, redacteur van de National Review, beschrijft hoe in het algemeen de effecten van roken in de media sterk overdreven worden en hoe rokers op hun beurt weer overtrokken op die media aandacht reageren. Tenslotte gaat Sheldon Richman, senior editor bij het Cato Institute, in op de gevaren van de overheidsbemoeienis met de levensstijl van de burgers:
“I am offended by people in government who think that it’s their job to use television and the print media to tell me not to smoke. I have read the Constitution, and I cannot find authorization for government to hector us and pester us on issues of private conduct. “
Wat interessante citaten uit de lezingen:
“In his book Smoking: Making the Risky Decision, economist W. Kip Viscusi reports that smokers are well aware of the risks associated with smoking; in fact, they tend to overestimate them. Furthermore, smokers are more apt to take risks in other areas of life than are nonsmokers. That indicates that the decision to smoke is just one aspect of a general attitude toward risk, not an aberration caused by the addictive properties of nicotine.”
“Antismoking activists cite studies that find that smokers miss more days at work than nonsmokers and that smokers increase maintenance costs by dropping ashes and leaving smoke everywhere. The crucial point is that employers are free to take both factors into account when they make personnel decisions. If the costs are high enough, some employers may refuse to hire smokers, or they may pay them less or give them lower benefits. There is no reason to believe that the government is in a better position to assess those costs than are individual employers.”
“It’s not as if people don’t know that smoking entails some health risks. The term “coffin nail” was coined in the 19th century. People know that smoking carries risks. Those risks are not news to anyone, so I really can’t see a case for government’s hectoring us about it. I’m especially offended that kids are hounded in school from a very young age to take pledges that they won’t smoke, to go home and bug their parents about smoking, and to report their parents’ smoking and drinking habits to the social welfare agents who go to schools to talk to the kids. Government paternalism permeates society more than nicotine does, and it’s much more toxic, much more pernicious.”
“The interaction of smokers and nonsmokers creates a real social problem. Some members of each group are offended by the behavior of some members of the other group. Many smokers are offended by the attempts of others to control their behavior. Many nonsmokers are offended by secondhand tobacco smoke. The basis for what is now traditional tobacco policy may be described as secular puritanism. Tobacco is not a new target of puritanism. At various times over the past several centuries, smokers have been subject to much more severe sanctions. What is new is that the present puritanism is supported by the secular left rather than the religious right. Contemporary secular puritans use a different public rationale and a different political coalition to promote favored policies.”