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Smoking ban: where’s the sense?

Over the last five years since the government attempted to introduce a ban on smoking in public buildings a sensible compromise has been reached allowing owner-run bars to decide if they wanted to be smoking establishments or not. In the meantime, many larger places installed extractors and air conditioning to deal with smoke, or created sealed areas for smokers.

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But on January 2, the government finally pushed through the EU’s most stringent anti-smoking legislation, ignoring a common sense solution.

Aside from the economic impact on bars, and treating us like children, there will be other negative effects. People living in the centre of cities, and particularly those living above bars, will find that when the warm weather comes there will be a lot more noise in the street below them as people gather for a smoke outside bars, and allow their deadly cancerous smoke to drift up to their balconies.

Imagine yourself, a non-smoker, sitting next to a terrace table on a hot afternoon or evening, with not so much as a breeze in the air, and four people at the next table light up. Will bars have to place fans outside to blow smoke away?

Of far greater impact will be the loss of one of the more civilized things about this country that the ban will bring about. Until now, when you ordered your drink in a bar, you weren’t charged until you left. A small thing, you might think, but such a tradition reflects a society where the bar is a place where all are welcome, and trusted to play by the rules. Sadly, faced with growing numbers of customers who use the excuse of nipping out for a cigarette to then waltz off without paying once outside, bar owners are increasingly charging customers as they order.

Finally, the obvious question: if tobacco is really so dangerous as to justify a ban on its use in public places, surely the thing to do would be to add cigarettes and other tobacco products to the long list of substances our governments feel they must protect us from.

A clue: shortly after introducing the ban, this government also raised taxes on tobacco products, estimating that the hike would net around 780 million euros this year.

I’m no smoker, but if I were, I’d be inclined to give up, if only to deprive the government of a dishonest tax.





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Published: Mar 1 2011
Category: Iberoblog
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
Short URL: http://iberosphere.com/?p=2216
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2 Comments for “Smoking ban: where’s the sense?”

  1. The ‘common sense solution’ was a non-solution. 100% of bars opted to be smoking bars. There wasn’t a single non-smoking bar, out of a couple of hundred, in the areas near where I live and work

    >will find that when the warm weather comes there
    >will be a lot more noise in the street below them as people
    >gather for a smoke outside bars

    Hardly, in the summer most bars are completely empty – everyone is standing around in the street with a cold caña in their hand.

    >Sadly, faced with growing numbers of customers who use the excuse
    >of nipping out for a cigarette to then waltz off without paying once
    >outside, bar owners are increasingly charging customers as they order.

    Thats ridiculous claim. It has always been normal for people to take their drinks outside, smokers or not. Its common to see streets outside bars full of people talking and laughing in the summer, they then go back in to pay. Nothing has changed … except that the whiners are now outside rather than inside.
    Thieves have always walked away without paying and will do so if they are smokers or not.

    >and four people at the next table light up.
    >Will bars have to place fans outside to blow smoke away

    The law is very clear on that, no. Its not an enclosed space.

    >Finally, the obvious question: if tobacco is really so dangerous as to
    >justify a ban on its use in public places

    Dangerous or not, its finally pleasant to be able sit at the bar and eat something without having the fat guy next to you blow putrid cigar smoke across your face the whole time.

    Hardly anyone I know smokes and those that do don’t smoke much. Not one is complaining about the change.

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