We live in a nanny state: get over it
I was listening to the radio yesterday lunchtime (7th November) and there was a debate going on about a recent piece of guidance from the government. Apparently, the advice on alcohol consumption has changed: we are now being advised to avoid alcohol for three days a week, rather than two.
Inevitably, one of the contributors raised the notion that we are creeping towards a so-called “Nanny state”. She went on to decry the advice as being an intrusion into the civil liberties of the individual.
Lets get this straight. We do live in a nanny state: if by that you mean that the government reserves the right to advise its population on how to live a better life. Moreover, by your individual actions, you have signed up to it.
As soon as anybody accepts treatment from the NHS, they tacitly accept a contract that gives the state some rights over their life. The NHS is paid for by the tax payer, and as a tax payer I want the NHS to be giving good value for money, in the wider sense. Part of that is to encourage lifestyle changes that improve health and reduce NHS costs.
It is an indisputable fact (I contend) that there is a linkage between excessive smoking and alcohol consumption on the one hand, and poor health outcomes on the other. In turn, poor health results in increased treatment by the NHS. Thus there is a direct correlation between excessive drinking and smoking, and NHS expenditure. Therefore, the NHS has a duty to advise the population on how it can reduce its use of an expensive service option.
I have no problem if somebody chooses to smoke or drink themselves to death or into poor health. However, I do have a problem if they then expect the tax payer to pay the bill for their poor lifestyle choices.
You want to smoke/drink excessively? Fine, just don’t expect the NHS to fix you later.