The Instigator
brian_eggleston
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
rkkell
Con (against)
Winning
30 Points

Freedom-loving citizens should defend civil liberties by confronting anti-smoking fascists

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 8 votes the winner is...
rkkell
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/7/2010 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,177 times Debate No: 13301
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (5)
Votes (8)

 

brian_eggleston

Pro

In the 1970's advertisement below the Marlboro Man told us: "Smoking cigarettes makes a man look cool and hard in front of the girls. Yessiree! Yee-Ha!"

http://www.debate.org...

He didn't really, of course: I just mocked that up; but anti-smoking fascists from organisations such as Action on Smoking and Health in the US [1] and the UK [2], Smokefree Action [3] and The Women's Christian Temperance Union [4] have not only had tobacco advertising banned but they have also used their influence to get smoking itself restricted to the point now where it is hard to find a place where it is legal for smokers to exercise their civil right to enjoy a cigarette in public.

http://news.bbc.co.uk...

Worryingly, today's anti-civil liberties, anti-tobacco campaign is the direct political descendant of the spiteful and viscous anti-smoking campaign of the Nazi Party in 1930's Germany - Adolf Hitler didn't smoke himself and he led a crusade against smoking, denouncing the practice as anti-fascist.

As one contemporary Nazi magazine preached: "Brother national socialist, do you know that our F�hrer is against smoking and thinks that every German is responsible to the whole people for all his deeds and emissions, and he does not have the right to damage his body with drugs."

http://www.prisonplanet.com...

We in the West are heading at breakneck speed, as Germany did in the 1930's, towards a society governed by leaders who dictate how the citizens live their daily lives and prescribe exactly what they may or may not do with their own bodies.

How long will it be before the first Western country bans smoking altogether as they have done in Bhutan?

No doubt Hitler would have approved of today's Bhutan – not only have they completely banned smoking but they are guilty of numerous human rights abuses including widespread ethnic cleansing – something that was very close to the hearts of the Nazis, as we all know.

http://www.hrw.org...

Of course, we all know smoking is bad for your health but so is drinking too much alcohol and eating in excess. Once the puritanical anti-smoking fascists have got their way and banned the sale of tobacco altogether what will be next?

For example, The Women's Christian Temperance Union is not only opposed to smoking, but also drinking alcohol, gambling and pornography and they will not rest until they are all outlawed.

http://www.wctu.org...

And if the politicians are willing to take on the might of the tobacco industry at the behest of puritanical fascists, they won't flinch at confronting the drinks industry either – indeed, there are already numerous ‘dry counties' in the US where the sale of alcohol is banned.

http://en.wikipedia.org...

And once the crackdowns on alcohol and tobacco are complete, the ultra-conservative, anti-smoking, anti-drinking, anti-pleasure groups may well turn their attention to junk food – we should ask ourselves how long it will be before fast food chains such as McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut and Dunkin Donuts are required to refuse service to obese customers.

Just to illustrate how spiteful and vindictive these anti-civil liberties fascists are, not content with getting smoking tobacco banned in public places, they are now lobbying to outlaw e-cigarettes - from which the only emission is water vapour!

Indeed, they have already been successful in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Finland, Malaysia and Singapore, and restrictions are pending in the UK and e-cigarettes are the subject of law suits by attorneys general in several American states.

http://ash.org...

Of course, smokers understand that smoking tobacco harms others around them and that they need to be considerate of that, but the tiny amounts of water vapour released from e-cigarettes do absolutely no harm to anyone.

http://www.ecigaretteschoice.com...

So why have them banned? It's just pure jealousy and spite, that's all.

These anti-smoking fascists may choose not to smoke and not to visit those last few places where smoking in public is still permitted – that is their right, but they have no right to impose their puritanical lifestyles on citizens who choose to smoke and to deny them their civil liberties by having the use of tobacco products restricted and banned.

That today's politicians pander to the fascist anti-smoking groups' draconian demands is not only to be lamented, but also feared – after all, if the freedom-loving citizens of pre-war Germany (of which there were many) had defended their civil liberties and confronted Hitler and his fascist boot boys, the Nazi Party may never have risen to power.

So, even if you don't smoke, drink alcohol or eat junk food yourself, you should defend the rights of your fellow citizens to do so and, for that reason, I urge you to vote Pro.

Thank you.

[1] http://ash.org...
[2] http://www.ash.org.uk...
[3] http://www.smokefreeaction.org.uk...
[4] http://www.wctu.org...
rkkell

Con

Ayn Rand, one of the America's most aggressive advocates of individualism and individual rights writes:
"Since Man has inalienable individual rights, this means that the same rights are held, individually, by every man, by all men, at all times. Therefore, the rights of one man cannot and must not violate the rights of another. For instance: a man has the right to live, but he has no right to take the life of another. He has the right to be free, but no right to enslave another. He has the right to choose his own happiness, but no right to decide that his happiness lies in the misery (or murder or robbery or enslavement) of another. The very right upon which he acts defines the same right of another man, and serves as a guide to tell him what he may or may not do."

The Con will demonstrate the following 3 contentions:
1) The right to smoke is not a fundamental human right;
2) The right to life is a fundamental human right; and
3) When in conflict, government must defend a fundamental right against a non-fundamental right.

Contention 1: The right to smoke is not a fundamental human right.
In the United States, US District Court D. Maryland decided in Brashear v. Simms: "that the act of smoking is entitled to only a minimal level of protection under the Equal Protection Clause, as it is obviously not a fundamental right (1)."
And in the UK, the Queen's Bench Divisional Court in the cases of Regina (G) v Nottingham Healthcare NHS Trust Regina (N) v Secretary of State for Health Regina (B) v Nottingham Healthcare NHS Trust decided: "Preventing a person smoking did not generally involve such adverse effect upon his physical or moral integrity as would amount to an interference with the right to respect for private or home life…There was not an absolute right…to smoke wherever one was living (2)."

The courts exist to defend and define the limits of the law, and in these cases they clearly demonstrate that the right to smoke is not a fundamental human right.

Contention 2: The right to life is a fundamental human right.
The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights, being essential for the enjoyment of all other rights, including the right to smoke. The American Declaration of Independence, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and similar documents firmly establish the right to life as absolute and inviolable.

Further, the right to life means the right not to be deprived of one's life arbitrarily, i.e. without due process of law. However, when smokers expose others to the toxic effects of their habit, they are depriving their fellow human beings of life and health without due process.

The Pro glosses casually over the well known health hazards associated with smoking, but in fact this is the crux of the issue. According to the Mayo Clinic: "Breathing secondhand smoke for a short time can irritate your lungs and reduce the amount of oxygen in your blood. Prolonged or repeated exposure to secondhand smoke is all the more dangerous. And it isn't just the smoke that's a concern. The residue that clings to a smoker's hair and clothing, as well as cushions, carpeting and other goods … also can pose risks, especially for children (3). The known health problems that environmental tobacco smoke causes or contributes to include lung disease, heart disease, cancer, low birth weight, SIDS, and infections in children(3).

Contention 3: When in conflict, government must defend a fundamental right against a non-fundamental right.
Clearly, whatever rights smokers may have must be limited by the dangers posed to both smokers and their innocent victims. Renowned Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once noted: "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." When the exercise of a given right causes harm to others, the government has not only the authority but in fact the duty to curtail that right to protect the innocent bystanders. The right to free speech does not include the right to incite riot, for example.

According to the Declaration of Independence, the purpose of government is to secure the inalienable rights of men, including the right to life. It is the duty of government to do everything in its power to ensure that every citizen is allowed to enjoy the right to live, which includes the right to be protected from things that diminish or harm the citizen's life or health. Tobacco smoke poses a direct threat to the lives of both smokers and non-smokers, and it is therefore the duty of governments to protect their citizens from tobacco smoke.

The right to smoke extends only to situations in which no other individual's right to life is threatened. And, given the lingering hazardous effects of environmental tobacco smoke, this may reasonably include bans or restrictions on smoking in public areas, smoking indoors, smoking in rental properties, and any other restriction that is deemed necessary to protect the non-smokers' right to life.

The right to bear arms does not include the right to go on shooting sprees, yet every time a smoker lights up, they release an assault of toxic chemicals that carry out lethal attacks on innocent bystanders even hours after they've left the area. The right to smoke can only be granted so long as the effects of the smoke do not interfere with other's right to life and health.

Turning now to the arguments set forth by the Pro:

The Pro sets up his case based on the Nazi opposition to smoking. We are supposed to be appalled because the Nazis also committed genocide. However, there is no link between anti-smoking policies and genocide. The Nazis also implemented physical education programs for their youth. Does this mean we are marching in lockstep with the SS because we have mandatory physical education? No, it means that we see the benefit in having healthy children. The Nazis wanted strong healthy citizens. Therefore, anyone who wants strong, healthy citizens must be preparing for another world war. It doesn't follow. There are plenty of reasons to want a strong and healthy citizenry – they are happier, more productive, less expensive, etc. This argument is fallacious, and should be disregarded in its totality.

The Pro next makes the appeal that "they won't stop with smoking." This is a slippery slope fallacy. It suggests that restrictions on smoking will lead inevitably to further restrictions on other liberties. But it is reasonable to conclude that the anti-smoking campaign is an end in itself, a matter of public health, not morality.

More important is how the courts have supported smoking controls. The courts have consistently ruled that the government, "…in view of the well-known harmful effects of secondhand smoke, has a legitimate interest in protecting the health of non-smokers…(1)." The right to smoke is not as fundamental as the right to life, so when these conflict, society must protect the more fundamental right to life.

The Pro mentions dry counties where the sale of alcohol is prohibited, but neglects to mention that these laws have been on the books for decades, long before smoking became an issue. The Pro argues that e-cigarettes are not harmful to anyone, yet the FDA has issued warnings that these devices have been found to emit cancer causing agents and other harmful pollutants (4).

The conclusion is simple. If the right to smoke is more fundamental than the right to live, then the Pro should win this debate. If the right to live is even slightly more important than the right to inhale poisonous gas, then the win should go to the Con.

(1) http://www.palaborandemploymentblog.com...
(2) http://business.timesonline.co.uk...
(3) http://www.mayoclinic.com...
(4) http://www.webmd.com...
Debate Round No. 1
brian_eggleston

Pro

With many thanks to rikkell for accepting this debate and for posting such an eloquent and comprehensive response, I should firstly like to put this matter into its historical context:

When Walter Raleigh returned to England from the Americas in 1584, Queen Elizabeth I summoned him to her court where the conversation probably went something like this:

Queen Elizabeth I: So Walter, I hear you went to America for your summer holidays this year. I hope the weather was nice.

Walter Raleigh: Indeed it was, Your Majesty.

QEI: So did you bring me some souvenirs back then, Walter?

WR: Yes indeed, Your Majesty. Please allow me to present you with what the natives of America call a "potato".

QEI: What? How dare you! Fancy giving me some ghastly, misshapen vegetable all covered in mud as a gift. Guards, have this man beheaded at once!

WR: No, no, wait Your Majesty, I've brought you something else, look: this is what the natives call a "tomato".

QEI: Oh, how kind of you Walter, you went all the way to America and brought me back some sort of red plum thing – how very thoughtful of you, are you sure your Queen is worthy of this overwhelming generosity? Verily, I'm warning you Walter, this better taste nice and sweet or your head's on the block.

WR: Erm, actually Ma'am, on reflection, perhaps it would be better if you sampled my final offering first. This is what the natives call "tobacco".

QEI: Art thou having a laugh at your Queen's expense, Walter? You go to America and all you bring me back is a horrid turnip thingy, a beastly-looking plum and some dried-out leaves. Right, it's the chopping block for you, you seagoing skinflint…

WR: Ah, just a moment Your Majesty, wait: what you do is roll the leaves up in paper, light one end, put the other end in your mouth and inhale, just like this – see? Have a go yourself Ma'am.

QEI: What nonsense, but I'm bored so I'll give it a try… Wow! You dancer, Walter, this is seriously good sh!t. Guard! Hand me your sword - kneel down there, Walter.

QEI: I hereby dub thee "Sir" Walter Raleigh. Arise Sir Walter.

And since that day smoking became popular throughout Europe and, later, with settlers in the New World and beyond and now the world's 2 billion smokers consume 5,407 trillion cigarettes each year – smoking is not the pastime of an inconsequential few and, in most societies and for most its history, smoking has been socially acceptable.

http://www.fas.usda.gov...

Now, to directly address my opponent's argument: I'm not personally convinced that Ayn Rand is the supreme and indisputable authority on morals and ethics but let's say she was right when she stated: "since Man has inalienable individual rights, this means that the same rights are held, individually, by every man, by all men, at all times. Therefore, the rights of one man cannot and must not violate the rights of another."

If this is the case, then the anti-smoking lobby cannot legitimately violate the unalienable right of their fellow citizens to smoke - a right that smokers have held since tobacco was first introduced into the free world.

Had smoking always been illegal and not widely practiced, my opponent would have had a valid argument when he stated that people have "the right to be protected from things that diminish or harm the citizen's life or health" and that it would be an infringement of this right if pro-smoking groups were successful in having smoking tobacco de-criminalised and legally obliged all public places to permit smoking on their premises. But of course, that isn't the case, so his argument is invalid.

But even if we do accept that smoking is not a fundamental right while the right to life is, and that governments have the duty to protect the latter at the expense of the former, there is no reason, in the case of smoking, why these rights should come into conflict.

The status quo has always been that if an individual objected to smoking, he or she would avoid smoky environments. For example, he or she may have chosen to sit in the non-smoking carriage on trains or avoid visiting bars, nightclubs and restaurants.

Another excuse for banning smoking in bars that anti-smoking fascists trot out is that a non-smoking policy protects the staff from inhaling second-hand smoke.

But this argument simply doesn't hold water: the staff weren't forced to apply for jobs there – and they wouldn't have if they objected to smoking.

Just like a vegan wouldn't apply for a job in an abattoir.

Or a devout Muslim wouldn't apply for a job as a wine critic.

Or a militant feminist wouldn't apply for a job as a jizz-mopper in a peep show.

Or a hay fever sufferer wouldn't apply for a job as a gardener.

Or a Jew wouldn't apply for a job as a tax inspector in Manhattan's Lower East Side.

Or someone with an allergy to feathers wouldn't apply for a job as Elton John's fluffer.

But now the law in many places obliges all the customers to refrain from smoking just for the benefit of the staff - crazy, crazy inverted logic!

Of course, certain places where young children may be present have always had no-smoking policies, for example: schools; hospitals; churches; libraries; toy shops and Catholic priests' bedrooms, and people have always accepted that.

But what people cannot and should not accept is that an individual's right to engage in what has always been a perfectly legal activity is denied them - just because some ultra-conservative anti-smoking fascists disapprove of that activity.

Vote Pro.

Thank you.
rkkell

Con

While it offers little in the way of actual evidence, please allow me to follow my opponent in a brief digression for "historical context."

Sally, a young mother in the 1960's, takes her son, Tom, to the doctor. Lately, something has been not quite right with Tom. The child has become increasingly aggressive and restless. He has difficulty sleeping and hasn't had a bowel movement in over a week. Most recently, he has begun to lose some cognitive skills that he had previously mastered, such as speech and walking. The doctor examines Tom, does the blood work, and comes back with the result – Tom is suffering from lead poisoning (1).

"But how did this happen, doctor?" Sally inquires.

"Why, there's dozens of ways. Lead is found in paint, toys, why, even the water. It's terribly dangerous!" replies the doctor.

"Dangerous? That's absurd! People have been using lead for over 6500 years! Why, lead pipes date back to Roman times!" cries Sally.

"Glurg!" slobbers Tom, chewing on his cheek.

"Well Sally, we know a heck of a lot more than the Romans did about this sort of thing. Maybe it's time we changed these archaic standards…"

Like lead pipes and paints, smoking has a long history of reckless use. Like lead, smoking is poisonous and deadly. And, like lead, smoking should be regulated and eliminated from unwanted exposure.

My opponent makes the claim that smoking is an unalienable right, yet fails to provide evidence to counter the court decisions that I cited which state clearly that smoking is not a fundamental, let alone unalienable right. However, a few sentences later, my opponent concedes that smoking is not a fundamental right. In fact, he also concedes that the right to life is fundamental and that government ought to protect the right to live if and when it conflicts with less fundamental rights. Such concessions move the pro much closer to the con position.

My opponent argues that the historical acceptance of smoking should provide a guarantee of the right to smoke, and while such historic acceptance should weigh in any discussion of limiting or revoking a status quo, in the case of smoking, the harmful effects clearly outweigh any imagined precedent. Ours is a scientific era, an era when presumptions are overturned as facts become available, an era when health is becoming a crucial concern for all citizens. Lead is one example of longstanding practice that was changed because science uncovered legitimate dangers that overwhelmed the benefits of age old practices. Smoking is similarly becoming untenable as more and more research reveals the inherent dangers of smoking not only for smokers but especially those dangers associated with second hand smoke.

The pro supports the use of designated smoking sections as a valid response to the dangers of second hand smoke, yet studies have found that "nonsmoking areas are not effective in protecting nonsmokers from ETS in establishments that permit smoking (2)."

The pro makes the argument that non-smokers should simply avoid those places that smokers frequent, that by showing up in such places, the non-smoker accepts the consequences of his desire to eat with friends or have a drink. This is like telling African Americans in the 1960's "you're perfectly welcome to sit in the front of the bus as long as you're willing to take the beating that comes with it!"

There is no right to assault another person – that is the basic underpinning of our legal system. Yet smokers want to claim for themselves exactly such a right. The hazards associated with second hand smoke cannot be the responsibility of non smokers to avoid. That's like a mad man shooting into a crowd and then claiming that the victims knew better than be in public.

Or to put it another way, if you and I happen to be in a caf� one day, and in the middle of your meal, I reach over and pour a vial of arsenic into your coffee, is it your fault for coming to the caf�? Is arsenic poisoning a normal risk associated with a cup of coffee? Of course not. In fact, if I slip arsenic in your coffee, I'll go to jail, but if I blow it in your face, nothing happens at all. This is absolute nonsense!

Any and all of my opponent's claims that place the responsibility for avoiding assault with a deadly weapon on the victim should be dismissed outright for the foolishness that they are. Whether the attacker wields an AK47 or a bottle of poison or a devise that spreads poisons and carcinogens through the air (a cigarette!), the responsibility for the harm falls squarely on the shoulders of the offender, not the victim.

In short, smoking is not an absolute or fundamental right. The right to life is fundamental. You cannot say that these need not conflict by making non-smokers responsible for attacks upon their life. Therefore, when conflict exists, the government has the right and responsibility to protect the right to life against the right to smoke. For these reasons, the con should win this debate.

(1) http://www.nlm.nih.gov...
(2) http://www.pulmonaryreviews.com...
Debate Round No. 2
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Chrysippus 6 years ago
Chrysippus
Well argued on both sides, with one exception. Brian, although your arguments usually manage to be hilarious while making your point, arguments ad "Nazium" just doesn't work here. "Hitler did it; it must be evil..."

That's not why I voted for Con, though. On the balance, Con made a better case IMHO; classy debate all round, though, gents.
Posted by Kn1ght 6 years ago
Kn1ght
I enjoyed the debate.
The Con side was better in my opinion and I do agree with him to an extent.
However I am a constant smoker which makes me a little biased to the Pro.
Either way Con did a good job.
Posted by rpgeezus 6 years ago
rpgeezus
Interesting how this debate pretty much mirrored exactly what one would have on the street. :)
Posted by J.Kenyon 6 years ago
J.Kenyon
"The tiny amounts of water vapour released from e-cigarettes do absolutely no harm to anyone. So why have them banned? It's just pure jealousy and spite, that's all."

Probably has more to do with the tobacco lobbyists...
Posted by brian_eggleston 6 years ago
brian_eggleston
Since you have to be 18 to smoke, it's over 18's only for this debate!
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