Originally Posted by Teresa Edgerton
Well, we tried banning alcohol in this country, Sephiroth, and the result was a spectacular failure. It seems that that particular genie is so completely out of the bottle that there's no putting it back again.
The smoking in public places ban, on the other hand, has been tried in several places, and has proved to be quite effective in doing what it sets out to do. (It's only a failure if you regard it as an attempt to stop people from smoking at all, which it isn't.)
In these things, I think it's a matter of putting your efforts where you think they will do the most good. Do what you can today.
I see your point, and I should reiterate that the opinion I expressed earlier was not that I opposed the implementation of a smoking ban in public places per se, but that I felt the ban was too draconian, in that it extended into areas it should not have (such as the private members’ clubs).
I do agree that prohibition can cause more problems than it solves.
As for the illegality of substances being a deterrent to their use, I’m not so sure about that. I think education and positive social pressure are far more effective tools. Anecdotally, I have never met anyone who wanted to take drugs, but didn’t because they were illegal. On the other hand, I know many people who refused to take them because they understood the negative impact of that choice, both on themselves and others around them.
Controversial as this opinion may be, I believe that the best way to tackle the serious problem of the devastating impact of dangerous illegal drugs – particularly those such as heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine – is not to criminalise the users. I would like to see these substances decriminalised (this is not the same as legalisation!) and strictly controlled, with registers for addicts, and programs in place to help them tackle their addiction. I do not believe that this would lead to a rush of new people seeking to take these drugs just because they were no longer illegal. In fact, I believe that some of the ‘glamour’ that Wiglaf mentions would be lost, and that the stigma of being a registered drug addict would be a greater deterrent than the remote threat of imprisonment (which itself has a certain caché on the streets). I also feel that this would strike a blow against the lucrative black market, the control of which by groups of organised criminals is responsible for the worst crime problems. It would also help to address the problem of lower-level crime, however, reducing the need for people to steal in order to fund their habits.
The ‘War on Drugs’ is a spectacular failure, and I would like to see a new approach to the problem.
I’m against criminalising tobacco users for similar, if less dramatic reasons.