The Right to Harm Our Children

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This week, West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock voted in favour of the smoking ban and the Bill was passed – he was completely right to do so.

 The primary argument against any sort of ban of this kind is to do with the infringement of liberty by an oppressive ‘nanny’ state. But the way I see it, there are two reasons why this Bill just makes sense.

 I don’t agree with the idea that the government shouldn’t be able to take away some sort of civil liberty. We remove people’s rights all the time – I don’t have the right to stand on Angel Hill and hurl abuse at tourists, and nor should I.

 Simply by living in Britain, we enter into a contract with the state whereby we trade some liberties for protection against others who seek to harm us. In other words, I shouldn’t expect to be abused on Angel Hill any more than I should expect to be the one doing the abusing.

 The debate, then, lies in whether or not the government has a responsibility to protect people from smoking.

 And that brings me to the second reason why we should stop puffing in our cars: it’s about children. The government certainly holds an even larger responsibility to children, because kids often don’t have the ability to defend themselves, and that makes them far more vulnerable.

 If someone started smoking in a car I was in, and I didn’t like it, I would ask them to stop. Often children don’t know the (significant) risks of being the victims of second hand smoke in the enclosed environment of a car – and that is why it’s the responsibility of our government to make that decision for them.

 This Bill might not protect our right to harm our children, but I would rather protect the children at stake – Matt Hancock voted the right way.

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