In the past decade or so life for smokers has changed drastically. In many areas they're forced to stand 10 feet from buildings and prohibited from lighting up in parks and beaches. This restored the non-smokers' right to not stand in a cloud of carcinogens, but now some European doctors have come up with a new restriction. They believe that while you're alone in your car singing along with the radio, you shouldn't be allowed to have a cigarette in your hand.
According to the L.A. Times, this week the British Medical Association's Board of Science released a report urging U.K. governments to ban smoking in cars as part of an effort to "achieve a tobacco-free society by 2035." There are several different ways of going about this. The medical group suggests the governments could ban smoking when children are in the car or when any passenger is in the car. The doctors are in favor of banning smoking in vehicles at all times, even if you're by yourself.
A restriction on smoking when passengers are in the car makes sense, since children can't announce that they'd like their parents to stop blowing smoke in their faces while driving them to school. The ban on breaking out the cigarettes when anyone else is in the car is a bit trickier, but it may be justified. Two smokers who want to light up on a road trip aren't forcing anyone else to inhale their smoke, but the law could help protect people who don't want to inhale secondhand smoke and don't feel they can just ask the driver to stop.
Yet, banning smoking even when drivers are alone in their cars is a pretty outrageous. The doctors' feeble excuse is that holding a cigarette while driving causes a distraction. Is puffing off a cigarette really more distracting than trying to dip french fries in ketchup while driving? No. It would be good for road safety if we could demand that people drive in total silence and keep their hands on the wheel at all times, but that's an unreasonable expectation. Obviously, cigarettes are horrible for your health and people shouldn't smoke them in their car, in their home, or standing in the middle of a field. However, if governments are truly committed to ending smoking, they have to stand up to the tobacco companies and ban cigarettes. If we're going to keep letting people buy cigarettes, we can't tell them that there's absolutely no place where they're allowed to smoke them.
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