Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How far should the state interfere with an individual’s right to smoke and drink alcohol?

Many states in the world try to control the smoking and drinking habits of their citizens. Citing various reasons like the health, waste of money, social welfare, and the like, they justify their interference. However, with the citizens becoming more educated and aware, shouldn't the state allow them to decide whether to smoke and drink? After all, if they are really conscious about their health, money and family they will practice self-discipline themselves. Therefore, I think the state should not interfere much with the people’s right to smoke and drink.

People have now become quite educated and even the uneducated ones have become aware about the harmful consequences of smoking and drinking alcohol. The cigarettes themselves come with a warning message written in each packet that “smoking is injurious to health”. Those people who are illiterate also come to know about its harmful effects from social interaction, and other informal sources. Moreover, in totally remote areas, where the people are expected to be the most ignorant, there is no good market for cigarettes and liquors, and therefore there is very low possibility of such products reaching those areas. Therefore, in this situation, there is no necessity for the state to take any further actions regarding drinking and smoking.

Another reason, why banning smoking and drinking by the state is not reasonable is because such acts give rise to black markets, illegal imports or smuggling, and so on. In the end, such attempts would not only be futile but would also cause the state to lose tax revenue which could be collected if such products were legalized. Moreover, there will be added cost to deal with the black marketers and smugglers. Therefore, the state should not interfere with the people’s right to smoke and drink.

There are many disadvantages of smoking and drinking, which makes it tempting for the government to place a ban on such items. Smoking tobacco directly causes cancer of lungs, mouth and many other organs. Drinking causes severe health problems in the important organs like liver, kidneys, heart and brain. Both of these habits waste people’s hard earned money. Apart from that, some drinkers make noises, quarrel with anyone, disturb others, drive vehicles and cause accidents, and therefore give rise to vandalism and many social problems. However, because banning smoking and drinking is not a flawless solution, such offenders should be dealt with separately. Provisions should be made to control such undesirable behaviours of smokers and drinkers. That would show respect to the rights of the people who smoke and drink without causing any harm to others.

However, there should be some interference regarding how people should drink and smoke. Because smoking affects bystanders, smokers should not be allowed to smoke in public places, in front of children, and other circumstances wherever it seems unsuitable to smoke. Separate smoking zones should be established in such places, if smoking becomes absolutely necessary. Similarly, there should be similar restrictions placed upon drinkers to protect civilians’ right. Fines and other legal measures should be sought to control unjustifiable smoking and drinking behaviours.

In conclusion, banning smoking and drinking is not a perfect solution. State should allow the smokers and drinkers to use their right to smoke and consume alcohol by considering that their behaviours do not conflict with the rights of nonsmokers and nondrinkers. State should regulate how its citizens drink and smoke, rather than completely deciding if people can or cannot drink and smoke.

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