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A recent report by London’s Health Commission has called for the smoking ban to be extended from indoor public areas to Trafalgar and Parliament squares.

The report, entitled ‘Better Health for London’, argues that the ban would include parks to maintain them as healthy environments for children, as well as encourage active lifestyles in more adults of relevance to medicine applicants.

This was one of many suggestions on behalf of the committee which called for both incentives and costs for different behaviours, such as giving discounted Oyster card rates for people who chose to walk part of their journey, again encouraging an active lifestyle.

Land economy applicants will be interested to see how the parameters of public spaces can be defined legally to prevent smoking, as well as geography applicants who can see that preservation of ‘green space’ and its ties to health in human populations.

What is particularly interesting, in this case, is the Mayor of London’s response: Boris Johnson has argued not entirely in favour of the ban, saying that the calls were fit for a nanny state that monitors its citizens’ behaviour.

Schemes like this cost money to introduce also, no doubt a factor to consider for Boris Johnson as well as PPE applicants. The financial burden of such implementation is estimated to be £6.5m over five years.

When we debate over law and whether it should be extended to include more people or retracted to lessen its impact, not to mention abolished altogether, we evoke questions of personal liberty; HSPS applicants should consider both sides of the argument over this extension of government power and surveillance. Would such a ban maintain the health of the population and is thus a positive force in the remit of the government, or do would a ban show an extension of government power and monitoring to the level of healthcare that is intrusive to personal liberty and freedom?

Both sides must be considered when we think of state intervention in matters of health.

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