It was always envisioned as a stand-alone piece, but seeing as a cartoon in yesterday's Evening Standard has indirectly, and inadvertently, busted one for me, why not set the ball rolling now, eh?
The particular yawn-inducing defence of smoking bans in question, which is supposed to be a debate-killer apparently, is this one.
"Your right to smoke ends where my nose begins"It's a cracker, ain't it?
So perfect is it, that it has occasionally even cropped up at Westminster. Here's an example from Labour MP (natch) Judy Mallaber during a debate on the very loosely-related topic of the tobacco display ban last October.
Judy Mallaber (Amber Valley, Labour)It's one of the ASH classics. Originating around 1994 in the USA, it fails on many levels. For example, it kinda presumes that non-smokers don't possess a pair of legs, let alone that smokers are somehow inferior to those who don't like the smell. But that's not why it is fundamentally flawed.
Does the hon. Gentleman not accept that one person's choice to smoke affects other people's choice not to smoke? One person's freedom stops at my nose when it comes to smoking.
The cartoon above was light-heartedly appended to an article on property rights - entirely unrelated to smoke emissions - in the Standard. The homeowner may well have a right, in this case, to object to such a thing spreading onto his property.
Of course, when used to justify smoking bans in, say, a pub, it is less than useless.
You see, an anti-smoker complaining about his right to clean air on private property forgets one thing. He/she doesn't own that property. The right to smoke has nothing whatsoever to do with their nose, and all to do with the whim of the person who owns the land on which they are standing. Or should have in a free country, anyway.
This holds true for everywhere that the cliché can possibly be trotted out.
A smoker's right to smoke ends where a non-smoker's nose begins in the High Street? No, not really, as the Queen owns that land, and the local authority administers it. If the LA wants to make it a smokefree zone, they would be required to jump through a few hoops like, I dunno, legislative process. The non-smoker's nose has absolutely nothing to do with it.
There is no legislated 'right' to clean air. Nor, I suggest, will there ever be. Can you imagine the huge can of worms that would open up as anti-car pressure groups queued up to call for their legislated 'rights'?
You may be able to demand rights on your own property - you might succeed, you might fail - but you have no right whatsoever to demand any kind of rights on someone else's property.
Unless you're a deluded lefty, of course, in which case you just demand the right to the world on a stick.