Smokers' Rights to Health Care
Journal of Medical Ethics. 1995 Oct; 21(5): 281-287.
The question whether rights to health care should be altered by smoking behaviour involves wideranging implications for all who indulge in hazardous behaviours, and involves complex economic utilitarian arguments. This paper examines current debate in the UK and suggests the major significance of the controversy has been ignored. That this discussion exists at all implies increasing division over the scope and purpose of a nationalized health service, bestowing health rights on all. When individuals bear the cost of their own health care, they appear to take responsibility for health implications of personal behaviour, but when the state bears the cost, moral obligations of the community and its doctors to care for those who do not value health are called into question. The debate has far-reaching implications as ethical problems of smokers' rights to health care are common to situations where health as a value comes into conflict with other values, such as pleasure or wealth.
Allowing to Die; Counseling; Doctors; Economics; Education; Freedom; Government; Government Regulation; Health; Health Care; Health Education; Human Rights; Insurance; Illness; Justice; Life; Life Style; Moral Obligations; Moral Policy; Obligations of Society; Obligations to Society; Patients; Physicians; Public Policy; Refusal to Treat; Regulation; Resource Allocation; Rights; Selection for Treatment; Self Induced Illness; Smoking; Surgery; Utilitarianism; Value of Life; Values;