The Liberal Democrats are neither pro-smoking nor anti-smoking; it is pro-choice.
Just as a private individual has the right to dictate whether visitors or guests may smoke in their lounge-room or their car, so too the owner of a bar or restaurant should have the right to determine whether smoking should or should not be permitted on their premises.
It is everyone’s right to control the property they own, and everyone’s right to determine the standards of behaviour on their own property. However, government have sought to ban smoking in privately owned bars, clubs and restaurants. Some people may prefer that a particular venue is non-smoking, others may prefer that it is smoking, but the rule for a particular venue should be made by the venue’s owner.
Many of us may not like smoky environments, and we may not like them for a number of reasons – some of us may not like the smell, some of us may be concerned about long term health risks from passive smoking. But no-one forces us into those venues.
If there is a demand for smoke-free venues, then operators will make them smoke-free to attract more clientele. Any operator who ignores the hoards of patrons deserting their establishment for the smoke-free establishment up the road will soon be out of business, while those who recognise and meet the demand for smoke-free environments will prosper and grow.
The government does not need to be involved in this process.
Some people may not wish to work in smoky environments, but no-one is forced to do so. Many people accept risk in their jobs – security guards, construction workers, miners and farm employees just to name a few. They accept the risks for their own reasons, and are free to negotiate suitable remuneration for doing so. And with the current low unemployment levels, employees have many options open to them.
Smoking results in little to no cost to the taxpayer as treating non-smoking related end-of-life illnesses is often just as expensive. Tobacco excise is simply about punishing personal choices. People may not approve of the decisions that others make about their own bodies, or their own property, but a truly tolerant society respects their right to make those choices. As such, the Liberal Democrats would eliminate tobacco excise.
The government should butt out of people’s freedom to choose.