Three cheers for Gillian Murphy

“I don’t believe it’s possible to ban things, quite frankly.” So said Gillian Murphy of the Irish Cancer Society on Morning Ireland when asked whether sunbeds should be banned.

I nearly fell out of my bed. It’s a long time, (certainly since before the smoking ban) that I heard someone whose objective is to keep people from harm, publicly eschew the jackboot solution to health and safety.

Dr Murphy was talking about the certain harm done to skin by sunbeds. She was making the case for persuasion – for advocacy – for allowing adults to educate themselves about the dangers of UV rays so that people could make their own personal choices.

It’s not that she opposed the state getting involved. She said, indeed, that the state had a duty to force sunbed operators to tell their customers about the negative affects of the products. Who could argue with that?

Could it be that an alternative view of spreading healthy lifestyles is emerging? Apart from Dr Murphy the signs are not promising.

State agencies are outdoing each other in producing propaganda in support of the smoking ban. Every day you read in the paper where somebody wants the state to intervene with a ban or a restriction.

Everyone going on a boat on the sea now has to wear a lifejacket whether they wish to or not. Some group wants the GAA to make the wearing of hurling helmets mandatory. Lifestyle gurus want a fat tax on food to force people to eat healthily.

The alternative to all this is to respect each individual’s right to run their own lives and to take their own risks. In an open and free society the state has a right to bring to the attention of adults the negative affect of products especially as the vendors of products have a vested interest in keeping the negative affects to themselves. That’s fair enough.

I hope that other people in Gillian Murphy’s position will take the view that concern for the health of people is not an excuse for the state or its agencies to assume controls of people’s lives.

Sick of Blatant state propaganda

THE Office of Tobacco Control (OFT) is a prime example of the Stalinesque turn of affairs in this country.

The political decision to impose the smoking ban is one thing – that my tax should be spent on blatant propaganda to support this is disgraceful.

Here’s a quote from the OFT’s website: “The Office of Tobacco Control has today (Tuesday, 20 July 2004) welcomed the high level of support and compliance with the smoke-free workplace legislation from proprietors, managers and the public – smokers and non-smokers alike.”

Goebbles would be proud of that piece of spin. The reason – the sole reason – that publicans are complying with the smoking ban is that the state is threatening to take their livelihood off them if they don’t do what they are told.

It is sickening that coercion is dressed up as consent. Sickening that the political parties are allowed to use tax to promote their politics. And sickening that I have to pay for it.