Thursday, December 04, 2003

Smokefree Environments Amendment Act

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the local Libertarians about this. They see it purely as a matter of private property rights - but then, they see everything that way. To me, it is very much a public health and OSH issue.

Consider this: no other industry in new Zealand would be allowed to expose its workers or the public to chemicals with the carcinogenic effects of cigarette smoke. They would either be forced to provide adequete safety equipment (bartenders in gasmasks!) or to use a different process.

I don't see why offices, hospitals, bars and restaurants should be treated any differently from sawmills, factories and chemical plants in this respect. You're not allowed to expose people to toxic crap, you're not allowed to poison them. People can poison themselves as much as they want in the privacy of their own home (or out in the open air), but not where they're going to affect others. Mill's principle trumps private property rights any day of the week.