For years to come – assuming we don’t find ourselves cremated in a nuclear war – people will look back at the pandemic and the lockdown and all the draconian official responses and wonder if it was all worth it.
Personally, I’ve always felt that some of the restrictions went too far, that we were too willing to accept them, completely changing the dynamic between the ordinary citizen and the seemingly vast body of public health officials suddenly ruling the country.
The signs were already there with the first lockdown. Scores of dignitaries came out quickly, demanding that just closing the pubs and restaurants was not enough – they also demanded that even off-licences and supermarkets should be prevented from selling alcohol. This had nothing to do with Covid, it was more because the New Puritans saw an opportunity to beat their own drum and impose their own agenda on everyone else. They would not miss the opportunity to manipulate the populace into behaving as they deem acceptable.
Their demands to turn us into Prohibition-era America failed, but that pernicious instinct to control us has not gone away. Of course, these social interventions were not unique to Ireland. In fact, it was both incredible and deeply staggering to see how many politicians in Western countries were willing to take the authoritarian path.
New Zealand, led by the increasingly unpopular Jacinda Ardern, has shut down its country and also smuggled in some bizarre laws banning anyone born after 2008 from ever buying a pack of fags. Of course we now live in a viral society and what used to be seen as a minor decision in a country on the other side of the planet that could be ignored has now morphed into public health policy in the UK and Ireland.
In the UK, numerous anti-smoking campaigners have called for them to go completely tobacco-free by 2030, and this troubled call is resonating in the country. I had a fairly enjoyable tournament with prohibitionist Luke Clancy on Newstalk the other day, and it was both amusing and terrifying to see how much he embraced the idea of banning the under-25s from buying cigarettes.
Clancy and I used to, you could say. He was a big supporter of the ruinous 2004 smoking ban that closed around 500 pubs and wreaked havoc on the hospitality industry. It was not me. In fact, I remain opposed to the whole concept because it interferes with the basic concept of personal freedom and personal responsibility. I said then and I will say it again that pubs should have had the ability to choose whether or not to go smoke free and it was up to consumers to choose which venue they would prefer. It was a simple solution that gave people a choice – but Official Ireland doesn’t trust the rest of us to make the ‘right’ decisions. Clancy happens to seem like a nice guy and I enjoy our occasional clashes, but the idea that banning people of a certain age from buying a box of fags is just insane.
Essentially they say that a 24-year-old can pay taxes, enlist in the army and vote – but he can’t smoke a cigarette, while those of us who are older are allowed to smoke as much as we want. Is it just me or can everyone else see how unworkable this plan really is?
I happen to be an occasional smoker (enjoying a Carroll’s and a large cup of coffee as I write this) but this isn’t about smoking, not really. It’s about power and control – who has it and who doesn’t. As much as I admire Clancy’s zeal in trying to turn us into a nation of health freaks, he seems to have forgotten the most important fact of all – adults don’t need protection from themselves and we certainly don’t need Dr. Feelbad teaching us how to live our best life.
All that aside, how long do you think it would take for a 24-year-old to take legal action over age discrimination? After all, we’ve always assumed that once you turn 18, you’ll be free to make your own choices — for better or for worse. These calls for ageism also fail to take into account one thing – basic human nature.
If you want to make something attractive then the best way to succeed is to ban it. After all, we all crave forbidden fruits. But there’s one fundamental objection we should all have—that’s an objection to being told how to live our lives. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if I never had a cigarette again. I like to have a cigarette when I’m working, but if I had a choice between cigarettes and coffee, I would choose coffee. However, this is my decision and I make it with the full knowledge that smoking is not good for you.
But I refuse to change my life just because a bunch of medical professionals look down on the decisions I make.
I’m a man of many vices, but gambling isn’t one of them
As I say in the article above, I am a man who is comfortable with my vices.
I like a cigarette, I like a beer and although I don’t do drugs anymore – I’m just too old – I don’t judge anyone who does.
But there is one vice I’m very relieved I never had – betting on the horses. As Cheltenham hit its usual frenzy this week, I suddenly had a heap of canceled meetings because the people I was supposed to be coming to had all gone to the pub to watch the horse race.
I have to be honest, I hate horse racing. There is the broader issue of animal welfare that is often swept under the rug, but my disgust stems from a much more personal fact – when I was a kid I remember coming back from school and walking through the garden to see that Hearing the sound of horse racing on TV.
My uncle, who lived with us at the time, was an avid gamer and I was always afraid of the sound of the race commentators when I got home.
As soon as I heard those noises, I knew the evening was going to take one of two paths – we’d either get a fish and chips dinner he bought with his winnings, or we’d have to spend the night in silence while he still mused a loss.
I suppose you could say it was a remarkably effective piece of aversion therapy. Of all addictions, gambling seems to be the worst – you can only drink so much or turn your nose up, but with our mobile phone and a betting app, you can do endless harm.
I was supposed to meet up with a friend after writing this article but he postponed it – because he just lost all his money at 3.40am in Cheltenham. So yes, I may be a man of many vices, but I thank the god I don’t believe that gambling is the only vice that’s gotten past me.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/ban-under-25s-from-buying-cigarettes-good-luck-with-that-41461571.html Ban people under the age of 25 from buying cigarettes? Good luck with it