THW completely ban smoking.

Motion :- THW completely ban smoking.

House :- Western Liberal Democracies.

Case Statement

All necessary steps will be taken to shut down the tobacco industry. Strict laws will be passed to ensure this doesn’t lead to a knee-jerk black market.


Respect for individual freedom and choice is characteristic to WLDs.

In this respect, the states take it upon themselves to create an environment conducive to making such a choice and enjoying it.

This has value as long as individuals are able to make these choices without undue influence. If individuals cannot freely choose, the very value of individual freedoms is lost.

For example states ban Hate speeches, as they have shown a propensity to irrationalise individuals, due to their rhetorical nature and result in individuals making choices, in this case to be violent, which they may not have made otherwise.

Age of consent:- Working with premise that individuals cannot make a free choice below the prescribed age, states ban minors from engaging in sexual acts. Even though there maybe individuals who possess the full capability to make this choice, bereft of undue influence, the state chooses to protect that section, however small it maybe, that will not be able to make a free choice. State action is always directed at protecting the most vulnerable.

Constructive case

1.) Choosing to smoke: - Despite the ostensible harms, the choice of individuals to smoke represents an anomaly. It may be acceptable, as explained later, that in certain cases individuals can choose to harm themselves as long as the benefit is unique and of extreme importance. But, for such a case to be allowed the state has to ascertain beyond reasonable doubt that the choice is free of undue influence. Cigarette smoking and its presence in society systematically hinders a free choice.

a. Before the first cigarette: - Smoking enjoys an aura of ‘coolness’. Pop-culture has always represented smoking as a glamorous act, examples of Rajnikant, Clint Eastwood immediately spring to mind. Even within the youth, it seen as a desirable act, a pre-requisite to fit into certain desirable stereotypes. Hence it is seen that systematic societal pressuring debilitates individuals from making a free choice to smoke in the first place. To counter this effect, years of , campaigning and public interest messages by States, NGOs, stickers on cigarette boxes etc have proven useless. It’d be illogical to believe an increased investment in this approach will yield in any significant result. This begs for a new approach, i.e. ban it altogether.

b. After one cigarette:- Nicotine creates physiological as well as psychological dependence. Physiological dependence creates a bodily craving for nicotine. This results in withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, loss of appetite, migraine headaches, which systematically inhibit the person from leading a normal productive life. Hence even in a paradigm where an individual does not find the act of smoking particularly enjoyable, that individual is unable to choose to quit. This is further compounded by the ease of access of cigarettes, as they are extremely easy to carry around and smoking hardly requires any particular environment. Hence at almost all points the next cigarette is hands reach away, and the choice to quit becomes an extremely hard one, if not an impossible one, for most individuals.

Although an individual maybe told of in length the harms of smoking the effects aren't physically apparent. Individuals who smoke look healthy and happier, as a matter of fact. Suitable analogy would be the impact of reading about an earth quake in the paper, versus actually witnessing one. Hence harms don’t hold enough gravity.

Hence an ease of access, making smoking a convenient medium, and the harms being hard to conceive to an individual, coupled with the heightened bodily craving, point to that a free choice is far from possible.

2.) Ambit of choices that the state allows individuals to make:- Individuals being unable to make choices exhibits an undesirable scenario. States have a duty to protect individuals from making bad choices. Since a scenario where an individual cannot choose is undesirable, an individual choosing such a scenario becomes a bad choice. Analogous to how government declare certain contracts null and void such as, that German cannibal example(, indentured labour, where individuals give up their right to choose. Giving up your right to choose does not make sense, especially when there is definite harm involved.

3.) Value of smoking- Smoking holds no unique value. As a mode of recreation or stress buster there exists, albeit less convenient but more importantly non-addictive, avenues that could possibly substitute smoking. Even if they don’t exist, smoking isn’t innately important enough to humans like say food, without which bare sustenance becomes impossible. Only to highly addicted individuals does smoking become indispensable for sustenance. In our paradigm they are protected, as there exist rehabilitation centres, nicotine patches, etc which can help wean them of their dependence. The burden is on the opposition to prove a unique indispensable value.

4.) Third party harms and vulnerability to minors:- Even those who have not made the choice to smoke are harmed through passive smoke inhalation. Minors are exceptionally vulnerable, hence tobacco companies target them, example flavoured cigarettes. State has an indispensable burden to protect both. Although side opposition can argue that it can be legislated to the effect that such a scenario is made unlikely, ban smoking in public places or huge penalties for sale of tobacco to minors, our paradigm works better at averting both as cigarettes simply won’t be available, as opposed to the fact that smoking in private also results in somebody or the other suffering from passive smoking and due to huge incentive of selling cigarettes to minors, nullifies the deterrence effect of strict laws, as they are inherently hard to enforce. Hence the two vulnerable groups are better protected under our paradigm.

5.) Other substances that will follow suit as contraband: - Two preconditions to allow the use of a substance which is shown to harm users but has recreational benefits. Both conditions need to necessarily be satisfied.

a. Must allow individuals to live and act as a productive part of society. Substances, even if they are not addictive, should not stop individuals from going about their daily activities. This is because such individual become liabilities to society, i.e. their family, friends and the state, as they have to be supported by them. Hence such a scenario with an increased number of dependents is undesirable; hence the substance ought to be banned. Marijuana, LSD, although physiologically non-addictive, fail to satisfy this condition. Smoking reasonably satisfies this condition.

b. Should be physiologically non-addictive:- Individuals at all points should be able to opt out of use of the substance. Since individuals cannot make such a choice, or circumstances make it extremely difficult, the state ought to step in and prevent individuals from ever making such a choice.

The benefits from smoking simply aren’t unique or indispensable enough to justify the harms to the individual as well as society. Even if one were to argue that certain individual can make the choice to quite, it is only logical to assume that in most cases the choice is a difficult and in some impossible. Hence curbing of the liberties of those who could possibly be considered to make a free choice is justified in order to those vulnerable ones, as state legislates to protect the most vulnerable and to avert extreme scenarios as explained in the basic premise.

Courtesy: Karthik Sivaram


Unknown said…
"Strict laws will be passed to ensure this doesn’t lead to a knee-jerk black market."

Haha... good joke.

Mai @ HerbTools

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