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How far should we go to stop people doing something that's bad for them?

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  • Message 1. 

    Posted by Religion_Host (U1716878) on ,

    The Moral Maze, 24/11/2010 8pm, Radio 4

    We know cigarettes are bad for you. The tricky thing is many people find them extremely enjoyable and they're perfectly legal.

    The government, frustrated that some people still persist in choosing to exercise their right to pursue a perfectly legal activity, despite decades of health education, bans on advertising and smoking in public places, are looking at forcing tobacco manufacturers to sell cigarettes in plain packaging.

    The problem is that all those people exercising their freedom to smoke are then clogging up the NHS demanding that the rest of us pay for the treatment of their self inflicted illnesses.

    It's a question not just for smokers. How do you feel about a fat tax, or a minimum price for alcohol?

    The government thinks the answer could be its new Behavioural Insight Team. Is this an example of paternalist libertarianism, - or a worrying Orwellian development where politicians have given up trying to win the political argument and have instead just resorted to employing teams of psychologists and marketing executives to manipulate our behaviour?

    How far should we go to stop people doing something that's bad for them?

    Michael Buerk chairs the debate. The Moral Maze, 24/11/2010 8pm Radio 4

    www.bbc.co.uk/progra...

  • Message 2

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by josy (U14065324) on ,

    I would like to string em up & give the public a holiday to gawk while seeing em being hung, drawn & quartered, because they are dangerous to my health - I am in danger of rupturing a blood vessel at the deceipt practised by men in suits, pretending to care, while rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of slashing public sector jobs, in the same breath announcing compensation payments to people who have been harmed by those who are being paid to kill!

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  • Message 3

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by Oak_King (U14612120) on ,

    The problem is that all those people exercising their freedom to smoke are then clogging up the NHS demanding that the rest of us pay for the treatment of their self inflicted illnesses.

    It's a question not just for smokers. How do you feel about a fat tax, or a minimum price for alcohol 


    Considering the amount of revenue the government already gets from tobacco and alcohol sales I don't think there is much mileage in that particular argument.

    BB )O(
    H

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  • Message 4

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by RAClements (U709609) on ,

    I've no problem with people smoking or drinking too much- it is their body, after all. It is when these things- through second-hand smoke or killing people in a car- start to affect everyone else that I have problems.

    Then there's the choice of smoking in your own home or car. Fair enough, but if there are children there... or of it's a pregnant woman..?

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  • Message 5

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by josy (U14065324) on ,

    I would have more respect for any decisions made by the decision makers, if they were able to stop collecting the revenues produced from the sale of harmful products to the public - on the one hand they are happily accepting revenues from the sale of the product, on the other they want people to stop smoking - there is an inconsistency which just does not add up - but no surprises there!

    I am an adult, if I choose to smoke, that is my decision. The laws passed as easily as passing water means that pubs have shut in the hundreds every week following on from the ban on smoking in them.

    I know the landlord of one of the pubs I infrequently visit, but is a favourite with some of the locals, has a lock in & allows those wanting to smoke indoors to do so!

    We are being ruled by a bunch of hypocrites who have been born & bred into applying double standards - what can you expect from them?

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  • Message 6

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by Rabbac (U5273099) on ,

    I'm with you Josy, if you want to live like a monk then great but let the rest of us enjoy ourselves..

    I couldnt care less about non-smokers and playing the pregnant or child card doesnt make me have a guilt trip either. If 30 years ago every man and thier dog smoked, drank ate chips etc then how come these people are the ones who are living longer? Not saying that smoking cant give you health problems but then as you get older you get health problems anyway so whos to say its due to lifestyle or just pot luck.

    As a (healthy excercising) smoker I have to laugh, drink and obesity kill more people and wreck more lives than smoking every did and everytime i'm on my bike all i get to breathe is car fumes and yet you still get these numpties on here whining about smoking! As you say hypocrites abound!

    Report message6

  • Message 7

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by Astro (U5209345) on ,

    We know cigarettes are bad for you. The tricky thing is many people find them extremely enjoyable and they're perfectly legal.
     


    And became popular because the medical world advised people of a nervous disposition to take up smoking. Tobacco is one of natures best anti-depressants. So who started the whole ball rolling?

    Interdisciplinary research in pharmacology, psychology, physiology and neurobiology is just beginning to shed light on the incredible hold that tobacco has on people. Scientists have found, for instance, that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine or amphetamines, and for most people more addictive than alcohol. Its hooks go deep, involving complex physiological and psychological mechanisms that drive and maintain smoking behavior and that even produce some ''good'' effects, such as improved performance on intellectual, computational and stressful tasks. Those still addicted tend to smoke more cigarettes, but they should not lose hope. New strategies for quitting, based on a deeper understanding of the addiction, are in the wings. ''The known enemy is more easily overcome,'' says Dr. Jack Henningfield, who specializes in the biology of dependence and abuse potential at the Addiction Research Center of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore. (New York Times)  

    Selling cigarettes in plain packaging will have as much effect as the pictures printed on them. Lowrie Turner once said on tv that when she smoked, they could have had a picture of her hooked up to life support and she would still have smoked.

    Maybe our dictatorial government, with its endless warnings of death over pretty much everything, should take the same line as the USA (as they do in almost everything else - trotting off to war for example) and try to understand why some people become addicted and why some develop only a habit.

    The problem is that all those people exercising their freedom to smoke are then clogging up the NHS demanding that the rest of us pay for the treatment of their self inflicted illnesses  

    The last I heard, the revenue from tobacco alone is 8bn; the cost of smoking to the NHS is 3bn leaving a nice tidy sum of 5bn going begging. Would it not be true that drinkers and smokers have already paid more into the system via tax than non-drinkers and non-smokers? If so, how are they forcing everyone else to pay for them? I thought the high taxation was a form of clawing back some revenue for smoking and drinking related ailments? A friend of mine returned from China last week and bought his favourite brand of cigarettes as duty free and they worked out at just under 1 per packet. He generally pays 6.25 per packet. Wish my maths was good enough to work that out over a year!

    Behavioural Insight Team  

    <doh> Another waste of tax payers money. People have the right to decide for themselves. If people want to smoke, drink, eat, speed, sky dive, pot hole, etc., themselves to death, that's their choice. Are we looking to turn our country into a Stalinist state?

    How far should we go to stop people doing something that's bad for them?
     


    I don't think there's much more the powers that be can do. All you can do is inform people and offer realistic help to those who want to stop.

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  • Message 8

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by Peter_Brown (U14690858) on ,

    Fine, stop driving cars, your accidents clog up the A&E, HDU and ITU and none of your road tax pays for that.

    Report message8

  • Message 9

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by Astro (U5209345) on ,

    everytime i'm on my bike all i get to breathe is car fumes and yet you still get these numpties on here whining about smoking!  

    I'd forgotten that. The effects of exhaust fumes are truly frightening - the government are aware of this but don't pursue it, I wonder why <erm>

    I was given a leaflet once by some green group and the exhaust emission danger really did scare me. I stopped using my car for unnecessary journeys. Then, I found out that by not being in my car, it took me much longer to walk and breathing in the fumes from other people's cars! I went back to using my car.

    If the government really want to improve the health of it's citizens (as opposed to appearing to take control of health issues when they're not), maybe addressing pollution would be the answer:

    www.bbc.co.uk/health...

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  • Message 10

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by josy (U14065324) on ,

    Hi Astro

    On the subject of air quality, the UK will fail the levels set out by the EU as far as clean air is concerned - but what are they going to do about improving this aspect of our lives?

    There are probably as many people suffering from asthma because of the poor air quality in our cities (where pollutants from cars, lorries, industries, are not regulated) than from my smoking in my home!, but you will not hear this truth out there!

    Not only war mongerers, but scare mongerers abound in the world of politics!

    If this activity was so dangerous, can anyone explain to me why there is an exemption to the law on smoking in indoor public spaces for the high & mighty who chose to smoke their cigars, sipping their brandies, while discussing how they can get more of their perks in brown paper bags, from arab sheikhs? IMHO, they sheikhs & politicians have more in common than politicians have in common with me!

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  • Message 11

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by Galahad (U14326040) on ,

    In a free society, government policy should be based on the assumption that children and vulnerable adults are to be protected from harm caused by the actions of others. There is also a case for protecting children from harm which they may unknowingly cause themselves (thus ages for drinking, driving, etc..)

    No government, however, has the right to act in order to protect me (as an adult) from my own actions. As long as I am harming no-one else I have the right to live my life however I wish. The tendency for governments to introduce legislation to control people's behaviour "for their own good" resulted in prohibition in the US and insane and unenforceable laws relating to drugs throughout the world. It is an Orwellian tendency which must be faught at all costs.

    Report message11

  • Message 12

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by Astro (U5209345) on ,

    Hi again josy

    There are probably as many people suffering from asthma because of the poor air quality in our cities  

    I think the green lobby proved this a few years ago. They placed air monitors in cities to montior the air then analysed the filters. The findings were far from good :-(

    In one country (can't remember which), might be Hong Kong, the police are only allowed to street patrol for one hour then they have to return to the station and breath oxygen to clear their systems.

    but you will not hear this truth out there!
     


    Hmm, I wonder why ;-)

    Not only war mongerers, but scare mongerers abound in the world of politics!
     


    I remember seeing an interview on tv a while ago involving a man from abroad somewhere, he was asked his views on British government health warnings. He said that in his country, they were told the risks and that was it, that his country doesn't get its citizens in the emotional half nelson that the British government does and that he found it strange that they do that.

    With regard to your last paragraph, wasn't it Brussels who reversed the decision on smoking indoors when it affected them being able to smoke at work - they claimed, as does Whitehall, that those buildings are not public buildings <whistle> I wonder who is in there then?

    Not many countries paid that much heed to the smoking ban. Spain certainly didn't and I doubt the Italians did either - or the French. The Irish took rooves off buildings so they weren't enclosed! Not sure about the Germans. I think it's just America and Britain that became a bit authoritarian over it.

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  • Message 13

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by Astro (U5209345) on ,

    Well said Galahad, I don't drink and never have since the age of 17 but I would never say no-one should drink (moderate it a little perhaps ;-) ).

    I know, why don't we just all stay indoors, eat lettuce and carrots, run up and downstairs for exercise and use conversation as our only means of entertainment. No pollution because no-one is doing anything. Would that satisfy them?

    Off now for a quick glass of Southern Comfort, a bag of chips and a battered sausage and a fag. Will have to use the car though, I'm running late <devil>

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  • Message 14

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by josy (U14065324) on ,

    What no government to date has failed to recognise that they govern with the benefit of the goodwill of the very people they seek to constrain.

    If it is ethical to put pictures of diseased lungs, arteries & the likes packets of cigarettes, why do they not put up signs at recruitment centres for the army, navy & the air force stating these activities are dangerous, can & are life threatening, not just to you, your family, but to the country as a whole?

    Off course, being adept at turning as many things as possible to their own advantage, they will not do so!

    No government can guarantee my safety, or my good health - that is something my genes, my family predisposition, my current circumstances, my lifestyle choices, as well as the overpopulated cities, the unimaginative housing therein all in their totality, affects not just my physical health, but my mental well being - no one, not even your creator, for those with religious beliefs, can guarantee everlasting life on this earth - so why is it these shameful deceitful politicians think that they are going to win votes for any of their rhetoric - they must really believe in their great big egos, telling them how great they are, & what great things they are capable of.

    Report message14

  • Message 15

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by Astro (U5209345) on ,

    why do they not put up signs at recruitment centres for the army, navy & the air force stating these activities are dangerous, can & are life threatening, not just to you, your family, but to the country as a whole?
     


    Good point josy, I hadn't thought of that. That would certainly put a lot off joining up.

    If it is ethical to put pictures of diseased lungs  

    I'm probably going to make myself look ultra stupid now but I'm still going to ask: why are the lungs of smokers (as shown on the packets) brown on the outside? Why are the lungs of non-smokers white? Whenever I've had to 'clean out' the inside of a chicken and the lungs have been left in, they're certainly not white - more a kind of maroon colour. What's that chicken been up to <yikes>

    I wouldn't mind hearing the answer to that if anyone knows.

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  • Message 16

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by tipsytopsy (U2348087) on ,

    Astro - to answer your question

    Healthy human lungs are pink. The lungs of heavy/long term smokers are black. Why?

    Lungs are connected and exposed to airways so open to potentially toxic substances e.g. the tar and chemicals you take in from smoking. The alveolar spaces in the lungs contain specialised scavenger cells called macrophages. Their job is engulf (or phagocytise in scientific terms) any possibly harmful foreign material that enters the lungs.

    Cigarette smoke contains thousands (yes, thousands) of impurities that are inhaled in great numbers. So the scavenger cells are filled with phagocytised particles of debris and impurities.

    Under the microscope you can see the black and brown particles in the scavenger cells. Indeed in heavy smokers you don't need a microscope to see the grey/black cells. In addition you would be able to see in most smokers the enlarged air spaces - emphysema that makes many smokers breathless eventually.

    Despite having worked with tobacco epidemiologists for a quarter of a century in the past and doing everything I can to help them educate people about what tobacco does to the body I am still of the opinion that people should be allowed to kill themselves in whatever way they want if they prize cigarettes more than their health.

    We know that the tobacco kill rate is half of all long term users from around 25 different diseases. The chances of being killed by tobacco if you carry on smoking are the same as tossing a coin 50-50. If you stop before there is damage the risk falls quickly.

    Smoking rates have thankfully declined in Britain since their peak in the 1970s so smoking deaths have been falling faster here than anywhere in Europe (but from a high base).

    Even so a quarter or more smoke.

    They may be bloody fools. But I believe in letting people be bloody fools if that is what they want.



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  • Message 17

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by tipsytopsy (U2348087) on ,

    Meant to say Astro....

    Chicken lungs are a deeper colour than human lungs and some diseases can discolour their lungs (not my subject so you would have to look it up) but if your chicken had been a smoker its lungs would have been black too, not maroon! (Where are our old smileys when you need them)?

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  • Message 18

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by Astro (U5209345) on ,

    Hi tipsytopsy

    It was that the picture on packets shows the outside of the lungs being a sort of browny colour and I thought that odd. Surely that would be inside not out?

    I've been wondering what's happened to the smileys too

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  • Message 19

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    Posted by Libby (U14681609) on ,

    Indeed I do believe that we should have the choice to do what we want and that it is nobody else's business to tell us what or what not to do, the discussion of the Moral Maze this week was that of 'nudging'.
    I have read the book and I have to say that the concept of nudge is not to tell people what to do, which was somewhat portrayed in the programme, but to make doing what they want to do easier.
    I am personally against smoking, but these new methods mentioned dont stop people from smoking, they dissuade it. One thing the cigarette companies said was that they only compete with each other and aren't trying to appeal to the public. I believe this to be true.
    It upset me that the whole concept of nudge seems to have been mutated by the government to try to obtain their goals. This is wrong and the term 'nudge' should not be associated to the policies the government are making.
    A nudge does not force someone to do something, but the 'nudges' that the gorvernment are using do.

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  • Message 20

    , in reply to this message.

    Posted by tipsytopsy (U2348087) on ,

    Hi again Astro

    It was that the picture on packets shows the outside of the lungs being a sort of browny colour and I thought that odd. Surely that would be inside not out?  

    No - the entire lung surface of heavy smokers may be blackened - it's mainly from the tar deposits. Once you have seen a smoker's lungs when they are removed from the body you never forget the sight.

    Report message20

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