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Smokers' rights to health care.
  1. R Persaud
  1. Bethlem and Maudsley Hospitals Trust, London.


    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 suggest 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 nationalised 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.

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