Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

We can make our decisions... for better or worse

Dr Susan Jebb

I don't like being told what to do. Who does? Rules are made to be broken. That's what I say as I scoot down the bus lane blithely of a morning in my car.

Yes, I know it's wrong and selfish and that bus lanes do exist for a noble reason, the protection of the environment. Yes, I know I'll be caught, one of these days. And I'll deserve it.

But until then I will relish the enlivening thrill – equivalent to several shots of espresso pulsing through your veins – of doing something a little bit illicit.

It wakes you up, reminds you, in a small way, that you are actually alive and have choices, that you're not just a polite and obedient worker bee in a seething hive that's beyond all individual control. And, besides, it gets the school run done that little bit faster.

Now that there's going to be a ban on smoking in cars carrying children in England, I think I might do the bus lane run smoking three fags at once, in solidarity with the oppressed smokers of Tunbridge Wells, or Weston-Super-Mare, or any of those other English places that you've heard of, but never want to visit.

I'll keep all the windows tightly shut, too, just to make sure that my daughter is good and pickled with second-hand smoke before she gets to school. Heck, I might even offer her a cigarette, too, while I'm at it. Sure, one can't hurt her, can it?

I'm joking. Really. And, of course, it's a stupid and selfish act to light up in a car when you've got children on board. Making them sniff up all those concentrated toxins is bad for them. Who'd have thought it?

But using the law to ban the practice – as charities like Chest, Heart and Stroke want us to do in Northern Ireland – is a step too far and undermines the important principle of personal autonomy.

God help us if our own politicians – already the most enthusiastic cheerleaders for punitive, arbitrary rules, like the small-minded county councillors that, at heart, most of them are – get hold of this agenda.

Life won't be worth living. We may just move to North Korea now.

Because we all know it won't stop here. If it's wrong to smoke in a privately-owned car with children inside, then it's also wrong to smoke in front of kids in the kitchen, or the living room of a small house. The difference, in terms of inhaling noxious chemicals in a restricted space, is negligible.

So the next thing will be seeking to ban people from smoking in their own homes. That's where the health fascists are going with this. They won't be content until we're all eating a Government-approved diet of chickpeas and bean-sprouts, dropping down to do 30 press-ups every half-hour and swearing a temperance pledge to eschew wine for life.

Inspectors with special search warrants will sniff the curtains to make sure that parents haven't been smoking the filthy weed. I can only imagine what the punishment for offenders might be, but I'm sure a month or two in prison would encourage them to get their priorities in order.

Don't be thinking this is some selfishly-motivated plea for personal indulgence. I'm not a smoker, never have been. But I am disturbed by the implications of the ban, which is just one of a whole new set of planned strictures which seek to encroach on our private lives, particularly in the area of health.

Right now, the 'wellness' police are stirring up some mad hysteria about sugar, which turns out to be as evil as crack cocaine, and if you give it to your children you're virtually ensuring they'll get type 2 diabetes in later life.

Forgive me for feeding you that delicious rhubarb crumble, my darling, I didn't know what I was doing. Orange juice is a killer drug, too, something that the Government's obesity tsar, Susan Jebb (above), says we must "wean" ourselves off. Because who would risk going cold turkey, right?

We are being protected from ourselves, but at what price? The power to make personal decisions, good or bad, is being taken away from us and placed into the hands of the state.

It's early days yet, but we all know the logical endpoint of that invidious trajectory.

Time to tell this bunch of officious guilt-trippers to butt out, while we still can.

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