Against mumps, Meursault, McDonald’s and Marlboro
On the immunisation of children against smoking, alcohol and drugs
in From reason to practice in bioethics
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Suppose a state proposes a vaccination against Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs, the SAD programme. Children could be vaccinated not only against mumps and measles but also against enjoying dangerous substances such as nicotine and alcohol. Some might argue that such a vaccination is ethically justified indeed a wonderful solution to individual and social problems related to addiction; others might consider this to be unacceptable. The following arguments are discussed - the future autonomy - would it be different if one could ‘undo’ the vaccination - the moral importance of the liberty to decide about (trivial) lifestyle choices - the idea that some unhealthy habits are part of one’s personality and identity - ‘healthism’ sometimes people, e.g. mountaineers, take risks with their health because life is not only about health and longevity. Some slippery sloping is done to imagine vaccination against gambling, gluttony and obesity. A danger is that in the name of health a particular moral view is imposed on persons, e.g. a teetotaller’s view on alcohol. Immunisation may seem ideal from a public health perspective but there are serious ethical problems to be considered.

From reason to practice in bioethics

An anthology dedicated to the works of John Harris

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