Don't fight smoke with hellfire
King James I (he of The Bible fame) was an annoying character. He almost never took a bath and he was very ugly. And he had a very high opinion of himself, believing implacably in the divine right of kings like himself.
He was king of Scotland (where he was James VI before becoming the English James I), but this is neither here nor there; the fact is that he was what you and I would call a d**s.
According to the (mostly very reliable) 1066 and All That: "James I slobbered at the mouth and had favourites; he was thus a Bad King." (Cap B and K because 1066 is big on a Bad Thing, a Good King.)
James inherited certain things from his predecessor. One of these was Sir Walter Raleigh so when he got his grubby hands on the throne of England, one of the first things he did, to quote 1066 again, "was to have Sir Walter Raleigh executed for being left over from the previous reign".
He also inherited a thing that was to become known as America. In those days (we are talking here about the very early 1600s) America was without form and void - apart from bison and Apaches. There was no Hollywood, no Cadillacs and no Oprah Winfrey.
In other words, it was a dismal place on whose shores a few Englishmen rocked up, only to be contaminated by the delinquent Native Americans.
These people used to be called Red Indians. They lived in wigwams, scalped strangers they didn't like and ate Manhattan Hunga Busta Mushroom Burgers at their local Spur on Kids-Eat-Free Wednesdays (okay, I made the last bit up but the rest is mostly true).
What made the Red Indians delinquent was that they smoked tobacco. And, because they were so delinquent, they influenced the naïve Englishmen settling in Virginia to try the evil habit. The Englishmen tried it, got hooked and then shipped it back to Blighty.
Smelly, ugly, slobbering King James hated smoking. He even wrote a thing called A Counterblaste to Tobacco in which he described smoking as a "filthie custome . a great vanitie and uncleanenesse".
King James was spot-on about smoking. It is a loathsome habit that makes you smelly and unwelcome in polite society. If you smoke, you cannot run the Comrades. It almost certainly causes fatal diseases and generally buggers you up. There is not a single good thing to be said about smoking cigarettes.
Rail as he might against the noisome habit of smoking, though, even the supposedly divinely appointed King James did not believe it within his powers to ban the habit. He did, however, tax it very heavily. This example governments have followed for the past 400 years, a time in which belief in the divine right of kings has been supplanted by a social arrangement we call democracy.
These days, however, instead of democracy, we have the divine right of the health department. I would not for a moment wish tobacco dependence on my worst enemy, but it is a fact of life that the stuff can't be prohibited now, and if foolish people want to kill themselves slowly they have a right to do so, as long as they are consenting adults who do so without inflicting their habit and their fumes on unwilling others.
But our meddlesome health department has taken upon itself powers even the despotic semi-feudal King James dared not assume. It proposes to outlaw smoking of tobacco by adults within 50m of any other person on a beach or within reach of any building.
It is an undeniable fact that a large part of our economy is based on the consumption of intoxicating beverages which, whether we like it or not, is often accompanied by the consumption of tobacco. Plans by the health department mandarins to outlaw, by diktat, smoking on beaches and almost every other public place in the land are not going to be good for many small businesses. And so we have those paragons of social rectitude, the Township Liquor Industry Association, gee-gee business Gold Circle and, according to Sapa, something called Toba Vending all arrayed against the health department's self-righteous decision to tell us grown-ups what to do.
We all hate smoking - even most of the smokers - but if some unelected official in our health department gets away with foisting on us a nannying edict that doesn't even go through parliament and that seriously undermines the rights of adults, we might as well set our watches back 400 years.