I dislike unnecessary legislation, particularly when its cold hand can be felt in one’s private life. But there is no sacred right to blow cigarette smoke at your children, and I was surprised to hear Nick Clegg clumsily attack the proposed law banning people from lighting up in cars when kids are present. There are valid arguments to be made about liberty, or the difficulty in enforcing such a law, but his fatuous comparison with the health effects of children spending too long watching television ignores the 35,000 lung cancer deaths in the UK every year.
People should be allowed to puff away if they want to – but it would be great if they could minimise the damage to others. The Royal College of Physicians says that 300,000 children a year visit GPs with problems linked to second-hand smoke. One day our grandchildren will look back at smoking, as we do at, say, recreational opium use, and wonder, “What the heck did they do that for?”
Our cover story is the remarkable news that women are a third more likely than men to choose to go to university. Aged 17, I would have found such gender ratios appealing. But leaving flippancy behind, it concerns me. The gap can’t be explained away by the vague assertion that boys may be more attracted to apprenticeships and paid employment. Chickens roosting, perhaps, if you look at girls outperforming boys at GCSE and A level? The bigger question: will this finally translate into more top jobs for women?
Why i? Thanks to all of you who have written in response to Thursday’s Editor’s letter about our 1,000th edition. I especially enjoyed the note from Leicestershire industrial engineer John Wigley, who is already looking forward to our 10,000th issue. (Steady on John, you had me reaching for the smelling salts.)
We’re going to print your best replies in that landmark i, next Saturday, 8 February. So, in no more than 50 words: Why do you buy i? and/or: What would you like us to improve? Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Name, age, locale, profession and a small photograph will all help to give a sense of i’s broad readership.