From the State, Lord, Protect me.

Michael Dwyer


Smoking is very bad habit indeed. It causes all kinds of harm as well as being smelly and unpleasant. Speaking as an ex smoker, or a smoker in recovery, I know how hard a habit it is to kick. Moreover these days a twenty a day man is shelling out three and a half thousand euro a year on nicotine.

The Kantian axiom is that which I cannot recommend to myself I cannot commend to others. Yet like many on the pro freedom wing of politics I often find myself defending the rights of smokers and tobacco companies, and other dodgy types like publicans and other alcohol pushers. So often does this happen that the bona fides of libertarian/conservative think tanks are called in question as they receive some funding from tobacco people.

A little time ago I was the voice of the EBI on RTE (briefly) attacking minimum pricing for alcohol off sales in Ireland. When in conversation with other audience members I outlined my position I and my comrade were asked if we were working for the Drinks Industry. When we said no, we were asked if they were paying us for our contribution. When we said no, we were asked why then were we saying such awful things.

The truth was that there may have been in fact dozen of paid lobbyists there that night. Paid for by a myriad of state, semi state, and state funded charities.  But no one questioned their good faith. However a citizen advocating for the right of adult citizens to make choices about their own lives was an immediate object of suspicion.

I suppose considering how heavily the odds are stacked against us and in favour of the ‘experts’ we should be happy we have any private life left at all.


ps. neither I nor the EBI is in receipt of funding from the Tobacco or Drinks industry. But we would be delighted to change that status.

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