Letter: Costs of smoking in a free society

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The Independent Online
Sir: Lord Harris of High Cross ('Train ban inflames smokers' passions', 23 February) smokes his pipe on a non-smoking BR train in order to make the point that 'this is a free society'.

Society might be free, but his smoking isn't. It imposes costs on others, such as the cost of reduced quality of life for non-smoking fellow passengers and the cost to BR of cleaning up the mess. The first cost can be addressed by designating carriages non-smoking or smoking.

The second cost could be addressed by charging a supplement to smokers to cover the costs of cleaning - and the administrative costs of operating a dual-fare regime. But if he paid his way, no one would much mind him continuing to smoke his pipe on board - provided, that is, he did not subsequently require medical treatment at taxpayers' expense for smoking-related disease.

Yours faithfully,

J. M. WHELAN

London, SW2

23 February

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