Understanding Smoking As An Other Regarding Action

Shahzad Hussain

Long ago in the heydays of liberalism , political philosophers invested huge time and energy in debating and discussing individual liberty as liberalism by and large circulates around an individual. J.S Mill is one of the prominent political philosophers of liberal tradition. ‘On Liberty’ is a philosophical essay by the English philosopher John Stuart Mill. Published in 1859, in which he advocated ‘harm principle’ & divided human actions into two categories : Self regarding and Other regarding actions . The former are those actions of an individual which don’t harm others and the later are those actions of an individual which pose a threat or could harm others . So Mill propounded state intervention in other regarding actions of an individual. Over the period of time when the ‘traditions of critique’ viz feminism, communitarianism, and post-modernism emerged in political theory , the whole discourse of self regarding actions has been questioned and criticised . The philosophers in the traditions of critique especially communitarians believe that individual is embedded in the society and hence all his/her actions directly or indirectly influence the society. Let me now draw your attention to the smoking as another regarding action. Tobacco/ cigarette smoking is one of the numerous leading causes of death of people because of its mass consumption throughout the world. Users take it as a tool of fashion, stress management; de-constipation and some get preyed upon unconsciously through imitation. Although smoking is banned at various public places yet we find only few people adhering those rules and rest end up making their companions or people sitting around as passive smokers who become as vulnerable to the diseases as the active smokers.
In Kashmir the business establishments used hookah as an attractive point for customers. Even now, as in the past, a smoker guest is given a warm welcome by serving him a Hookah. This token of gesture is regarded as respect by the smokers.
Even when one smokes in private space or in isolation without any one being around that too carries it’s repercussions to the rest of the society. His health deteriorates and family is destroyed by the rising burden of oral, throat, and lung cancer and taxpayer money is spent to treat him. Association between man and smoking is very old. Smoking enjoyed a very high social status in many cultures. It was, often, associated with heroism and saintliness. Saints and Sadhus, besides the Tobacco industry and their committed and devoted smokers, nurtured the art of smoking. Various centres of smoking existed in various cultures. In Kashmir the business establishments used hookah as an attractive point for customers. Even now, as in the past, a smoker guest is given a warm welcome by serving him a Hookah. This token of gesture is regarded as respect by the smokers. Since 1987 onwards, world Health organisation (WHO) enjoined it’s member states that every year 31st May be celebrated as ‘ World No Tobacco Day’. The theme for year 2020 is “Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use”. I would like to put forward few suggestions which may be helpful for us to get rid of it as soon as possible.
1. Pay due attention to your children when they are young . Make sure they are socialised in a good environment. Neither ask your kids to buy cigarettes for you nor smoke in front of them and never ask them to fetch a hukkah for you or guest smoker .
2. The land under tobacco cultivation should be diverted for other profitable food grain production or at least its production stopped to prevent the loss .
3. The state’s role should not be confined only to Warning labels which are printed on the outer side of a cigarette pack but
State must assume it’s paternalistic duty to protect its citizens from the harm of smoking and hence ban it .
4. Member states of world Health organisation ‘WHO ‘ should follow it’s guide lines

(The author is a PG student at the department of Politics and Governance, Central University of Kashmir. Views are his own, [email protected])

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