Saturday 31 January 2009

The Righteous Spot a Gaping Hole in Their Reasoning

Perhaps the 'righteous' are not aware of the proverb 'Too many cooks spoil the broth'. There are so very many of these shrill, holier-than-thou harpies and doom-sayers now, that they seem to be getting mired in philosophical knots and contriving to funnel themselves up their own arses.

The British Medical Journal's warning against punishing employees for their lifestyle choices seems to be a loophole closing exercise that will provide many a laugh for smokers worldwide.

The increasing trend for employers, particularly in the US, to bar smokers from applying for jobs or staying in post should be stopped, until the appropriateness of such policies has been properly evaluated, argue experts in an essay published in Tobacco Control.

My word. A rare moment of generosity from the anti-smoking nutjobs. Well, not really, if you think about it.

The justification that is always given for healthist policies in the US is a financial one. That employees who choose to smoke, or eat unhealthily, or drink, are unproductive and can harm profits for their employer. That's fair enough, it is their right to hire and fire who they see fit, and to set their own policy within the law. Their defence is invariably that if employees don't like it, they can choose to work somewhere else.

But hold on. Turn that one on its head. The only reason that Labour could dream up for a blanket ban in pubs and clubs in the UK was that employees had no choice in the matter. The argument for the business owner to decide their own policy was over-ruled in favour of those poor workers who couldn't choose. No blanket ban could have possibly been brought in without this assumption. It would have trampled private property rights and led to a string of legal challenges on the basis of personal choice of the customer and the business owner. That is precisely why it was termed as a ban on 'places of work'.

The march of the righteous hasn't yet reached such absurd levels as in the US, but it doesn't need to. The perfect case for pub owners to exclude non-smokers and therefore eradicate the (flimsy) reasoning for a blanket ban has already been made. A precedent applies, courtesy of the oh-so-righteous EU.

The Czech commissioner, in a reply to a written question by Scots MEP Catherine Stihler over an Irish call centre company advert that stated “smokers need not apply”, said the ban does not broach EU anti-discrimination laws.

[Employment Chief Vladimir] Špidla said in a written response that EU anti-discrimination law prohibits discrimination only on the grounds of “racial or ethnic origin, disability, age, sexual orientation and religion and belief in employment and other fields”.

“A job advertisement saying that ‘smokers need not apply’ would not seem to fall under any of the above mentioned prohibited grounds,” argues Špidla.

If smokers (or anyone else for that matter) can be excluded from employment, for affecting the profitability of a business, without redress in law, then it is perfectly fine for a pub owner to deny a non-smoker the right to work in his establishment if he feels it will harm his business by being forced to stay smokefree. The entire rationale behind the smoking ban was the bar worker angle that bypassed the idea that one chooses to step into a smoking establishment. The workers can't choose, they claimed. If they are excluded completely, there isn't an issue, and the case for choice on the part of the business owner becomes irresistible.

So, with the legal backing of the EU, pubs can quite legitimately exclude non-smoking staff. As such, until such time as Government legislates to ban discrimination on the basis of whether workers smoke or not, there is quite simply no valid reason for a blanket smoking ban in UK pubs and clubs.

It seems the anti-everything lobby have spotted this and it would explain why the BMJ are pulling an about-turn and defending smokers in this case. It also adequately solves the mystery of why this report was so widely distributed whereas others along the same lines haven't seen the light of day. There is a problem there that needs to be plugged. The US are fucking up the UK raison d'etre for the blanket ban. Why else would the British BMJ be researching the policies of US companies toward smokers and other unhealthy lifestyles, with the help of pro-ban advocates such as Michael Siegel, who was one of the authors of the study? It was a shot across the bows.

In short, the bansturbators at the BMJ need to protect smokers against workplace discrimination, or their beloved blanket smoker ban is fundamentally indefensible.

Oh the irony. Isn't it funny when the righteous tie themselves in knots? Especially when an illiberal EU ruling is the prompt.


Anonymous said...

Excellent, Dick, I haven't seen anyone else highlight this anomaly.

I wonder if ACAS and the CBI are aware of it? Employers seek their guidance on recruitment/retention issues.


Anonymous said...

PS I've posted a link on Taking Liberties' 'Smoking and Employment' thread.