Apparently an extension to the Portuguese law that prohibits smoking in enclosed public spaces is being discussed so as to include the situation in which parents smoke inside their cars while transporting their children. I agree with the situation the law intends to include but not necessarily with the fact it should be a law, as in, “you’ll get fined or go to jail if you don’t comply”.
People might misinterpret my words so, let me clarify: I fully agree children should not be exposed to their parents’ smoking environment. And I get it that a law is probably the only way to enforce the protection of children whose parents are irresponsible enough to include their children in their smoking environment.
Now imagine that, in the future, the government prohibits parents from taking their children to McDonald’s or any other junk food restaurant because too much of that kind of food can turn your kids into adults with high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. The argument is still the same: the law exists because there are irresponsible parents that do not protect their children from harmful activities (even if that harm only reveals itself in the distant future). Would your position still be the same as in the smoking law? Or would you find that to be a huge invasion of your freedom?
You’d probably say: “Ah but that’s different!” Well, is it? From a health point of view, the situations are exactly the same. You might think I’m being extreme but actually, junk food might be worse since a lot more people die of cardiovascular diseases than people die of smoke-related diseases. However, a lot more people would oppose to this no-junk-food-for-small-children law than the no-smoking-near-children law. Why is that?
What worries me the most is the precedence that this kind of law opens. Would you like to live in a future in which you’d need to show your most recent cholesterol exams just to prove that you are allowed to eat a Big Mac? Yeah, me neither.
I think people should have the freedom to be idiots.