In a recent move, Supreme Court of Nepal ordered the government to ban smoking in public places. It does not mention what those public places are but, where does this right come from? Don’t we have the right to smoke? If someone suffers from our smoking, don’t we also suffer from the lack of the right to enjoy our freedom? Is this constitutional? Is this a form of judicial activism? Should litigation be allowed? Several questions have surfaced against the decision of the court. Smoking cigarette is our right and it should be respected by all just like every other rights.
There has been several practices around the world to ban smoking on health grounds just like the one done in Nepal. It failed in Portugal, Switzerland and so forth. Rules were revised among others in those countries as those rules were basically ill-devised and ill-intentioned. Don’t we all know the bad effects of smoking on our health? If we choose to smoke out of our own conscience, who are these supreme court justices to regulate our action?
Furthermore, we don’t always consume things that are good for our health. Think about the food you eat everyday. More calories, fat and so forth lead to obesity. Should we stop eating high-fat food then? Lack of exercise also leads to poor public health. So, should we enforce laws forcing people to exercise regularly? When does this growth of limits on our rights stop? Or are we all heading for the court to decide our life?
More, the bans not only limit our rights, they also limit businesses. Look at the number of people involved in this business. The amount of money spent on advertisements and people related to those businesses. Many media houses are run by these advertisements. Things are all the more obvious. Go down the street and check out the first store. You can see a whole lot of cigarette packets on sale. Go to one of the firms and see the number of people working there. If we are to ban smoking in public places, we are heading towards some unintended consequences.
Bans simply don’t work. They take our rights away and they limit business. If we are to have a ban on smoking in public places citing health concerns, we have many more things to ban. First, ban the momo industry in Kathmandu. Do they even know how unhealthy is the momo most of the people eat ? Can they ban momo? No, so, why attack cigarette?