Ban Smugging Now

Looking at the smug faces of of the MPs, who voted to ban smoking in enclosed public spaces, basking in their costless virtue, I was prompted to write a long piece urging a campaign to Ban Smugging Now.
I have written before of my sense that the anti-smoking crusade may itself be a threat to health in an extend piece “Why Do Dancers Smoke”, where I concluded:
“People who smoke have adopted the practice as a strategy for dealing with life and defining who they are. The fact that the number of smokers seems to have stabilised, even in countries like the USA, where there are massive social pressures against smoking, suggests that current propaganda and health education is no longer working.
What all this suggests to me is that anti-smoking as a moral crusade has itself become dangerous. What seems to be required is more disinterested research into why people smoke, the perceived and actual benefits of smoking, and what, if any, other strategies smokers could adopt to gain these benefits without the harmful effects of smoking.
What might also be worth considering too is whether there are any hidden costs to the possibility of the total elimination of tobacco smoking. The general assumption is that the elimination of tobacco smoking would be an unqualified good. This looks like a moral rather than a scientific judgement.”

However, rather than go over the same ground again I urge you to read a fascinating and pointed lecture, “In Praise of Bad Habits” by Peter Marsh, which puts the case against “healthism” more eloquently than I suspect I could manage. Here is taster:
“At the core of all healthism is a concern to eradicate risk in people’s lives. On the surface this appears to be a liberal, caring aim and is robustly defended by those in the health education and promotion fields. Risk, however, as the anthropologist Mary Douglas and others have pointed out, is now both a politicised and a moralised concept. Risk is now the secular equivalent of sin. In this sense exposing oneself to risk, when other options are available, is to act in a sinful manner.
But there is a further issue here, and that is to do with the (often arbitrary) definition of risk. Which particular aspects of lifestyle are to be defined as risky/sinful, and to which segments of society will ‘persuasion’ be applied for the ‘good of society as a whole’? These are not abstract questions for they raise yet another insidious component of healthism – its culturally divisive nature. Risk determination is undertaken by a relatively small, white, middle class elite group in Western society – scientists and health professionals. These are people who, in the main, do not smoke, drink to excess or engage in promiscuous sexual activities. They have low-fat and low-sodium diets and tend to be over-represented in the gymnasium and aerobic exercise groups. (They might, to some people, also appear phenomenally dull.)
Engaging in risk – smoking, drinking, creating the possibility of sexually transmitted diseases, eating fat, sugar, salt and avoiding too much exercise – is characteristic of a different strata of society – the poor and marginalised, the working classes, ethnic minorities and ‘deviant’ groups. When the proponents of healthism are urging changes in lifestyle in order to achieve, in their terms, ‘well-being’, they are advocating changes for others much more often than they are for themselves. In this sense they are essentially moralists seeking to stigmatise specific members of society.”