Alex Massie

Nanny’s Intemperate Insistence Upon Temperance

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Angela Harbutt of Liberal Vision and Samizdata's Jonathan Pearce say much of what needs to be said about the British Medical Association's depressingly predictable demand that all alcohol advertising and sponsorship should be banned.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, Simon Clark draws my attention to the next front in the endless War on Smoking. Apparently smoking should be banned from pub patios and other outdoor areas too. Seriously.  Mark my words, however, we'll be hearing more on this, no matter how daft it may initially seem.

It continues to mystify me that organisations such as ASH are listened to as though they were some kind of independent umpire, while groups such as Forest are dismissed simply because they receive some funding from tobacco companies. In a sensible world this would not be the case.

In any case, the logic of a ban on alcohol advertisig is as feeble as the logic of the ban on tobacco advertising. You might just as sensibly ban advertising for car insurance since, as with alcohol and tobacco, the car insurance industry doesn't so much promote the idea of car insurance as try to persuade you to use a given company's product.

Have you ever met anyone who, back in the day, decided to start smoking because Embassy sponsored the World Snooker championships or who thought they'd abandon their teetotal past because Carlsberg sponsor Liverpool football club? I rather doubt it.

Perhaps the drinks industry will be made of sterner stuff than Feeble Tobacco whose resistance to the smoking bills was disappointingly lame. (Apart from anything else, the smoking legislation was a grievous infringement upon property rights.) One can only hope so.

Slippery slope arguments are always trcky things, but sometimes there's obvious evidence to support them. As Mr Clark points out:

Funnily enough it's exactly ten years since ASH denied that they wanted to ban smoking in every pub in Britain. We only want more smoke-free areas, they bleated. Well, they got their wish but that still wasn't enough. And we know what happened next.

UPDATE: The Filthy Smoker at the Devil's Kitchen has much, much more. Recommended.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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