Warning: This post was published more than 11 years ago.
I keep old posts on the site because sometimes it's interesting to read old content. Not everything that is old is bad. Also, I think people might be interested to track how my views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured!
But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:
- My views might have changed in the 11 years since I wrote this post.
- This post might use language in ways which I would now consider inappropriate or offensive.
- Factual information might be outdated.
- Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.
Many thanks for your understanding.
MPs have voted to ban smoking in all pubs and clubs in England. This is a tough one for me, because I’m very much on the fence on this issue. But, for the record, I don’t smoke, and I don’t like people smoking around me. That just doesn’t necessarily mean I want it banned.
As a healthcare (apparently) professional, I should be jumping up and down at the prospect of people not smoking in pubs and clubs, and raving about how this legislation will save people’s lives, and reduce the rate of lung cancer and other smoking-related diseases. But I have my reservations. Yes, this will undoubtedly stop some casual smokers from smoking, and possibly thereby stop other people who might start as casual smokers from ever starting. It will also protect staff from the effects of passive smoking. Some lives will inevitably be saved.
But what about the (stereotypical) poor household, where dad would wander down to the pub for a pint and a smoke each evening? Is he not now going to smoke more at home, and do more damage to his poor kid?
And what of the heavy smokers, who are those most at risk of disease? This legislation is unlikely to change their habits. And what of the little villiage pubs? Is the local PC really going to Plod round there and slap a fine on them for failing to ban smoking? Especially if PC Plod himself smoke, or the consolidation of police forces means that he’s out of a job and the nearest police station is fifty miles away? Will the problem not increase in these ‘underground’ pubs, where more people are potentially at risk as the pub serves as the hub of the community, and people are in there more often than the trendy wine bar in the city?
On top of all of that, it’s another government dictat, which are inevitably controversial, and shift the balance of power further away from the people who elected the government in the first place. My argument throughout this saga has been that if pubs are brave (like Wetherspoons briefly was), then they’ll ban smoking. If there’s such a demand for non-smoking venues, then their business will increase, and other pubs will be economically forced to follow suit – including the little villiage pub, who would be introducing the change off their own back, and so be more inclined to make the ban stick. This would be a gradual change, which would change the public’s and smokers’ attitudes to smoking in general, and would probably have more far-reaching effects than simply banning smoking in these areas. Smoking would become increasingly socially unacceptable, which is a powerful force in getting people to give up.
So, whilst the ban is clearly a good thing in that it will save lives, I’m still not convinced that it was the best way to tackle the problem. But it’s a way, and it looks like it’s here to stay.