Recent correspondence criticising the government’s strengthening of anti-smoking legislation should not go unchallenged. It is absurd to link the selfish unfettered right to smoke cigarettes with a God-given freedom of choice ethic.

Governments are elected to enhance the lives of a country’s citizens, and to provide protections against adverse elements. Government can never shirk its responsibility because there are thought to be greater crises in other sectors of society.

Soon they will also, laudably, turn their attention to the scourge of excessive consumption of alcohol, by imposing restrictions on advertising and consumption criteria. The liquor industry maintains that its national advertising campaign has a negligible effect on attracting new drinkers, and only influences movement from one brand to another. The huge amounts that have been spent in saturation advertising in predominantly African townships, in full view of highly impressionable youth, dispels that bunkum.

Leon Louw, the executive director of the Free Market Foundation, has irresponsibly spearheaded this mindless assault on the anti-tobacco lobby’s efforts to mitigate this particular societal crisis. For every proponent of unbridled freedom of choice like Louw, I can bring forward an hospital oncology unit physician who will quickly dispel that hogwash.

There are several excuses that feckless people who resist the strengthening of substance abuse legislation trot out, all can be shot down in flames.

So there is no need to argue against indefensible points with people who only hear what they want to hear.

Suffice to say, no one who has watched a loved one, as I have, wasting away to an excruciating terrible death by emphysema – which has conclusively been proved to have been caused by smoking – battling to draw and exhale every precious breath, could possibly be averse to any efforts by the government to combat the duet of liquor or smoking death.

In my case, I gave up smoking when I viewed an anti-smoking display by Cansa at the Rand Show which showed comparative preserved lungs of smokers and non-smokers in bottles…. Some were ravaged with cancer and others by emphysema, but even the disease-free lungs of smokers looked terrible.

I suggest that any nay-sayers to the government’s alcohol and cigarette restrictions should visit the casualty section of their local hospital, and after seeing the extreme misery of the broken and diseased bodies in the wards, and only then, will they hopefully have an epiphany.

I am no blinkered conservative, and believe implicitly in the liberal ideal of the right of South Africans to freedom of choice and expression, providing those precious liberties do not impinge on the rights of others, and do no harm to anyone, including the wretched misguided abuser. Surely that should be the ultimate criteria?

Clive Swann

Bonaero Park, Kempton Park