Pubdate: Tue, 10 Jul 2001
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2001 The Gazette, a division of Southam Inc.
Author: Chris Buors


Letter to the Editor

I take umbrage at Robert Sharpe's assertion that heroin use creates 
public-health problems (Letters, July 7). Mr. Sharpe is correct that drug 
prohibition is directly responsible for the death and disease of users as 
well as the crime that users resort to to pay black-market prices for their 
drugs. However, drug-taking is a private-health matter that ought not to be 
of any concern to public-health officials.

Flesh-eating disease, typhoid, tuberculosis and polio are examples of 
communicable diseases that are of legitimate concern to public health. 
Sanitary conditions conducive to breeding rats can be considered a 
public-health problem as well.

One's neighbour sitting at home over-indulging in alcohol or drugs, or 
cheeseburgers for that matter, is a private health matter. These are all 
volitional acts.

Obfuscation of what is private and what is public health does a disservice 
to the idea of freedom and liberty and the responsibility that goes with 
those notions. Excessive drinking, taking dangerous drugs and eating fatty 
foods are vices, not crimes.

Chris Buors

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