Anyone who has been around someone who is trying to quit smoking knows the common effects: increased appetite and irritability. Therefore, the headline of the April 17 AFP-JIJI article “Australians smoking, drinking less, but getting heftier, more anxious” should come as a surprise to no one.
Such is the flaw of central planning. Frequently, planners will fail to take into account the possibility that people will react to legislation in ways that undermine the very purpose of the legislation. In this case, the campaign to improve the health of the Australian public by reducing smoking and drinking rates has resulted in an Australian public that is perhaps less healthy (or at least, no healthier) than it was before the campaign.
The question remains: Will these campaigns be acknowledged as failures and then modified or ended? Almost certainly, no. The concept that individuals should enjoy the benefits and bear the costs of their own balance between living long and living healthily doesn’t enter the calculus for proponents of such “nudge” laws.
That unhealthy lifestyle choices cost a socialized medical system large sums of money is not an argument against those lifestyle choices, but an argument against the socialization of health care.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.