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Fining smokers who expose children to second hand smoke

 
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Aug, 2007 11:49 am
sozobe wrote:
I don't really see much wiggle room there. With the window slightly open -- and smoking for only 5 minutes -- the concentrations reached levels rated hazardous by the EPA.

Just a general comment: "Rated hazardous by government authorities" is a notoriously unreliable proxy for "actually is hazardous". For example, under current German regulations, Vitamin B12 is classified as a toxic of the highest class -- a class that requires special storage so fancy they have only a handful of them in every German State. Why did regulators falsely classify Vitamin B12 as this poisonous? Well, water pollution is often measured with the quick-and-dirty test of exposing to it a particular kind of fish, canary-in-coal-mine style. Vitamin B12 is harmless to everyone and everything -- except this particular fish, for which it is lethal even in small dosages. Faced with this fact, the agency drew the obvious conclusion....

More generally speaking, one needs expensive medical studies to figure out with confidence the actual risk from any one pollutant, Environmental protection agencies around the world lack the budget to conduct such studies for every pollutant, or even for every important one. As a result, they frequently set labels arbitrarily, according to what "feels right" to them. Just as frequently, their labeling is distorted in both directions by industrial lobbyists pushing for weaker tests, regulators covering their ässes with excessive caution, and plain absurdities like the pollution fish and Vitamin B12. All this may be acceptable for the sort of business regulation that makes up the work of the EPA. But I find it irresponsible to fine parents on such a shaky basis.

(The source for the above facts is my father. He is a biochemist working in the pharmaceutical industry, in a position where he's required to know this stuff. For regulatory policies in America, our georgeob1 is a similarly competent witness -- I'm pretty sure his story would be similar.)
0 Replies
 
CerealKiller
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Aug, 2007 12:03 pm
Re: Fining smokers who expose children to second hand smoke
Thomas wrote:
CerealKiller wrote:
How do you feel about this?

Next up: fining people for feeding their children chocolate -- because everyone knows how dangerous childhood obesity is. Rolling Eyes


This comment doesn't negate the fact that children are being hurt by something else. We can ask all sorts of questions on why other things aren't banned, but that has nothing to do with whether or not this should be.

And who's fault is it that the kid is fat and eats like **** anyways? The dumb ass parent, who thinks it's ok to end their life early with cancer sticks, and doesn't give a crap that they're setting a bad example for their child.
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CerealKiller
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Aug, 2007 12:18 pm
Finn dAbuzz wrote:


The next question is whether or not we believe the judgment of the State is ever more reliable and accurate than that of The Reasonable Man (or woman)?


Who exactly is this "Reasonable Man?"

Is this some idea from a book or something, because I'm lost.

Regardless, I have yet to see a law meant to protect children that is largely harmful to society. If there is one you would like to pick out, please do so.
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okie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Aug, 2007 01:30 pm
If cigarette smoke is a dangerous pollutant, just let the EPA ban it altogether. If its unsafe for the kid, its unsafe for the adult, and everybody else.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Aug, 2007 01:39 pm
Okie, be careful what you wish for ...
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Aug, 2007 01:47 pm
Re: Fining smokers who expose children to second hand smoke
CerealKiller wrote:
This comment doesn't negate the fact that children are being hurt by something else.

It wasn't meant to. It was meant to describe how I feel about the legislation, which is annoyed. If that's a problem for you, you shouldn't have explicitly asked in your initial thread, "how do you feel about this?"
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engineer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Aug, 2007 01:51 pm
Parents make calls every day that put their children at some level of risk (and nothing in life is risk free.) Driving in a car is risky. Should we ban dual career couples because the child has to go to daycare everyday and that involves driving in a car and being exposed to daycare germs? What about bike riding? Children get hurt on bikes all the time. Should we ban bike riding?

My neighbor used to get upset when I allowed my young son to ride in the front seat of my car while we did errands. "Do you know how dangerous that is?!" Actually, I do. I compared the very small increase in risk from front seat riding to the benefit my child received from sitting up front where he could talk about whatever he wanted with his dad and as a parent, I made the choice that the benefit of having some extra parental input in his life was worth the risk of sitting up front. That same neighbor would let her son ride his bike without a helmet. "He won't ride with it on." OK, perhaps she made the call that the exercise was worth the risk. I'm ok with that. Parents make those kinds of calls everyday.

I can see the argument that exposure to smoking is an avoidable risk. The other side of that question is what is the child getting in exchange. Perhaps quality time with a parent who due to addiction cannot do without that smoke. Maybe the only way to get to the skating rink is to go with Grandma and she smokes. I don't know, but I know who's duty it is to make the call and it's not mine unless it's my child.
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Aug, 2007 02:17 pm
Well put.
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JPB
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Aug, 2007 02:38 pm
very
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Aug, 2007 04:35 pm
FreeDuck wrote:
It would also be an argument for doing nothing [assuming] that the smokers who are left [..] also blow smoke around their kids at home. Giving them a fine for driving the kid around in a toxic car isn't going to have much impact if the kid goes home to a toxic house.

True..
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Aug, 2007 09:22 pm
not sure. just for the sake of putting all the arguments on the table: if something has a small impact, it might still be worthwhile. plus, it's a gesture that *might* (not saying that it would) make people at least pause before they light up in front of a child at home (society telling you that you're harming your child).
i am inclined more towards the banning than against it, but i don't feel strongly about it either way. there are bigger issues out there.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Aug, 2007 12:52 am
Speaking of "bigger issues out there" -- since the bill doesn't increase the budget of police departments, enforcing the smoking ban would come at a cost in enforcing other laws. Whenever traffic cops are fighting smoking in cars with children in them, they aren't going after drunk drivers, reckless speeders, dangerous overtakers, and cars falling apart in the middle of the street.

This is happening as Americans are losing twice the share of their population in traffic accidents that Europeans do. Should American states really divert the attention of traffic police from preventing traffic deaths to fining smokers in their cars? I think it's a bad choice of priorities. Even without my libertarian paranoia about meddlesome governments, I would oppose this bill.
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Aug, 2007 01:02 am
No. I think law enforcement should be adequately backed by money.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Aug, 2007 01:19 am
dagmaraka wrote:
No. I think law enforcement should be adequately backed by money.

Fair enough -- but even then, the money for enforcing the smoking ban is coming from somewhere. If you divert it from elsewhere in the budget, some other government function will lose funding. If you pay it out of a tax hike, some private activity is not going to happen so the state can pay for the smoking ban. Admittedly, in both cases, it's difficult for me to argue that the smoking ban isn't worth what's given up to enforce it. I don't know what would be given up. Then again, neither do you, so it's equally difficult for you to argue that the smoking ban in cars with children is indeed worth it.
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Aug, 2007 01:31 am
thomas, wouldn't that be an argument against almost any new piece of legislation?
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Aug, 2007 01:43 am
dagmaraka wrote:
thomas, wouldn't that be an argument against almost any new piece of legislation?

Yes it would, and I'm happy with that.
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dagmaraka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Aug, 2007 01:44 am
really? that doesn't strike me as a good argument.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Aug, 2007 01:50 am
That's probably because I sense there already is too much legislation in the world, while you don't. But let's not go there. I already got censured yesterday because I, together with joefromchicago, turned the current marijuana thread into "the pros and cons of libertarianism". I'm determined to spare this thread, along with the people in it. Smile
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Aug, 2007 07:08 am
Thomas wrote:
the money for enforcing the smoking ban is coming from somewhere. If you divert it from elsewhere in the budget, some other government function will lose funding. If you pay it out of a tax hike, some private activity is not going to happen so the state can pay for the smoking ban.

I thought it was always leftists who make the mistake of seeing the economy as a zero-sum game?
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engineer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Aug, 2007 08:12 am
Laws are often cost positive if you look at a big enough picture. If you raise taxes to enforce speeding laws, accident rates drop reducing direct costs to citizens in terms of repair and medical costs. Insurance rates also drop producing a long term indirect benefit.
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