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Sunak’s Smoking Gun

The Conservative party conference took place this week in Manchester, and whatever you may think of the Tories, the opposition parties or the political mire we find ourselves in generally in Britain these days; there was one element of the Prime Minister’s speech that should light a fire under us all…and I’m not talking about scrapping HS2!

Mr Sunak wants to ban smoking for the next generation. His intention is a noble one and his reasons are sound; he wants to protect our children from dying (even if it’s their own choices that lead to it).  

He quite rightly stated that: “In our country, smoking causes 1 in 4 cancer deaths [and] kills 64 thousand people a year”. He also said that, amongst other things, smoking significantly increases the risk of stillbirth. 

The Prime Minister went on to compassionately acknowledge the power of addiction, and the need to “break that cycle” and “stop the start” when it comes to our teenagers. He correctly points out that “none of us, not even those who smoke, want our children to grow up to be smokers.”

So far so good, I think there are few who would argue with him here. Even those who might oppose him based on freedom of choice and bodily autonomy, don't WANT their children to smoke. Even if they believe everyone should have the fundamental freedom to do so if they wish. 

But, as with most things in politics, a good thing never lasts. Mr Sunak said: “For a Conservative, measures that restrict choice are never easy.” Oh the irony!

That said (agree with him or not) his message now, as it was when he was Chancellor, is a simple one: some choices that you make – about what you may or may not do with your own body – are wrong…because they are likely to cause you harm. 

However, we cannot bypass the flaws in his reasoning here, after all this isn’t like Covid (whatever your views on that may be). The principle isn’t about protecting other vulnerable people as well as ourselves. This is purely about restricting the choices relating to what people may do with their own bodies.

30 years ago the argument might have been different. But smoking has already been banned in shared public spaces, and even in cars with children to help prevent the potential damage done by second hand smoke. No, this is simply about protecting people from the consequences of their own decisions.

But why then, is restricting the choice to smoke (and thereby infringing on the bodily autonomy of those individuals who wish to), so different from other choices that may cause harm to the person responsible for making them? If this is about saving lives and saving the NHS billions of pounds, why not ban alcohol or junk food as well? 

His answer…“Unlike all other legal products, there is no safe level of smoking.” That if this policy is adopted “then we would be on our way to ending the biggest cause of preventable death and disease in our country.” 

Hmm…well, yes and no Mr Prime Minister!

Yes, I would wholeheartedly agree that there is no safe level of smoking. However, there is another legal product in this country today, that not only has no safe level…it is guaranteed to kill, 100% of the time. And unlike smoking, drinking, taking drugs or bingeing on fast food, it’s not the individual who is responsible for making the choice that it kills. It’s an entirely innocent living human being, who has no say in the matter whatsoever!

So you see, what’s more concerning here than this blatant hypocrisy regarding the restriction of choice, is the Prime Minister’s total dismissal of so many of the most vulnerable children in the UK. Nearly 230 thousand of whom die needlessly every year, by abortion. That’s more than 3.5 times the number of people (64 thousand), he himself stated, are killed each year by smoking. 

Approximately 97% of these 230 thousand abortions in the UK, are performed on healthy mothers and healthy babies. This death toll is by far and away, the biggest cause of preventable death in our country! To top it all off, 99% of all abortions in the UK, are funded by the NHS, and thus the taxpayer. 

“But these abortions are necessary.” I hear many people cry! The litany of reasons never changes, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The reality is that Mr Sunak is right. Some choices about what we can and cannot do with our own bodies are wrong. But not because of the impact that those choices might have on ourselves, but because of the impact they have on others…especially the most innocent and vulnerable in our society. Ironically (again), part of the Prime Minister’s speech even recognises this. He mentions an increased risk of stillbirth when detailing the devastating effects of smoking! 

We restrict the actions of our citizens in this country, by law, every day. We cannot make the choice to use our bodies to steal from others or to hurt others, even (or most especially) for our own gain. 

However, since the Abortion Act was passed in 1967, we have killed more than 10 million children in the UK by abortion. More than 10 million, biologically living, genetically distinct, whole human beings; who look and act exactly as human beings of that age are supposed to look and act. Just as newborns do, and toddlers and preschoolers, and teenagers and adults. Dependent or not, cognitively & physically developed or not, big or small, young or old, all human lives are valuable.

Globally, we abort 73 million babies every year. Worldwide, It is in fact, the single biggest killer of innocent human life in the history of humanity. And it’s not only legal, it’s celebrated as “freedom of choice”.  And that, Mr Prime Minister, is the real smoking gun!