In a move that has long been anticipated, the British Medical Association (BMA) has announced that it will lobby the government to introduce a law that would ban anyone born after the year 2000 from buying tobacco. BMA members voted overwhelmingly in favour of what it is calling a ‘radical new policy’ that would mean that within four years there would be adults in the UK who would be unable to legally purchase cigarettes.
The BMA has always maintained that it does not want to ban smoking; it simply wishes to ‘denormalise’ it. In this aim it has, arguably, been quite successful. The ban on smoking in public places, the introduction of high taxes on tobacco, as well as incoming laws on plain packaging and banning smoking in cars have all been championed by the BMA. It has succeeded in stigmatising smoking to such an extent that this proposed law, which would effectively disempower adults from making decisions about their own lives, was not met with the jeering it deserved.
Clearly, the BMA was always aiming for full-on prohibition, and its attempts to claim otherwise over the years only further demonstrates how gullible and gormless it thinks the public is. The BMA’s website states that one of its primary aims is to ‘make the UK tobacco-free by 2035’. Dr Tim Crocker-Buqué, who proposed the ban, proudly stated that ‘it is time to play the tobacco end game’. However, in a debate with Simon Clark, the director of pro-smokers group Forest, on BBC2’s Daily Politics, the BMA’s Dr Vivienne Nathanson tried to argue that what the BMA was proposing was not a ban at all. She said ‘it would be illegal to buy [cigarettes], not illegal to smoke, and there is a difference between the two things’, as if she was oblivious to the fact that it is difficult to smoke when you are unable to procure cigarettes in the first place.
The BMA speaks to members of the public as if they were children. Indeed, this new proposal is effectively advocating an extension of the laws keeping children from smoking to all adults. It’s about time smokers and non-smokers told the BMA that we don’t need its protection.
Rossa Minogue is staff writer at spiked. Follow him on Twitter: @MrRossa