Labour will always decide what’s best (Smoking in public)

And I tell you this, gentlemen, I said, and 100 golfers in black tie boggled drunkenly and hung on my words… You know what this Labour Government wants to ban? I yipped.

What? they chorused, red-faced with anticipatory wrath. They want to stop you – smoking! I said. No more smoking in the workplace, or pubs, or restaurants; no more pint’n’Castella in the 19th hole, and in so far as the putting green is a public place, you will probably be forbidden even from having a crafty fag as you steady your nerves!

Outrageous, they said, and for a while the surf of indignation thundered around me, until a man just to my right piped up in level tones: “Well, you know, I am all in favour of a ban, actually.”

What? I said, amazed, but before I could get to the bottom of his dissent, two or three others around the room were putting their hands up and demanding a ban on any kind of smoking in public. But hang on, I said, and I explained the statistics about passive smoking: that you have only to charcoal-grill frankfurters for half an hour on your barbie, and you will inhale the same quantity of carcinogens as you could expect to absorb in two weeks of passive smoking.

Yes, yes, said my friends at the golf club dinner; we know all that, but the honest truth, they said, was that they used to be smokers themselves, and it was a filthy habit, and they thought the new law would help them to resist any temptation to take it up again.

What? I said, still incredulous. Next thing, I said, you’ll be wanting to ban drink in order to remove any temptation to get drunk, or ban cars, to avoid ever being tempted to drive too fast… But then I thought some more about their position, and I could see a kind of attraction in it. Of course it is ignoble to invoke the nanny state in order to correct your own personal weakness, but at least my friends’ motives were somehow honest, and based on intimate knowledge of the people they knew best – themselves.

My black-tied chums weren’t actuated by a desire to impose some superior code of behaviour on others; their motivation was purely selfish, and I can live with the selfishness. It’s the dogooders I can’t stand, and this Labour Government is riddled with people who long to stop other people doing things of which they disapprove. In so far as there may or may not be a case for banning smoking in public, it should be no business of central government – or at least not while smoking is legal.

It should be up to individual pubs, clubs and restaurants to decide whether their clientele want a fug or not; and if the emanations of the state must become involved at all, then we have innumerable tiers of parish, borough, district or country councils that could take a decision reflecting the views of local people.

As it is, the interdiction is to be imposed centrally, because the Labour Party has a drug of its own. It is called interference, and there is nothing that gives the present lot a bigger kick than locating what they believe is an imperfection in human nature, and stamping it out. That is why they want to ban hunting.

It is nothing to do with animal welfare; it is because they behold the joy on the mud-spattered faces of the hunters, just as they observe the blissful satisfaction of someone filling his lungs with smoke, and they are overwhelmed with disapproval.

It is not the fact of killing foxes that appals the Labour Party; it is the mental state of those who do it, the “enjoyment of cruelty”, as they put it. They make windows into men’s souls, dislike what they see, and resolve to change it, and they take no heed of the consequences of their ill-thought-out bans.

How is it supposed to work, if the hunts go over to drag-hunting, and then start finding, lo and behold, that the hounds chase live foxes? The police will want to show that they have been breaking the law, but how will they prove that there is a fox involved? They will assuredly have to catch the fox, and produce it in evidence. And how will they catch the fox? Why, with dogs, of course.

The whole thing is mad, and a waste of police time. There will be mutiny in the countryside, and lawlessness, and bloodshed, and all because the modern Labour Party believes in the perfectibility of man; whereas the true conservative knows that dogoodery is often far more dangerous than masterly inactivity.

If you want evidence of this truth on a global scale, look at the war in Iraq, which I supported, but which has proved a grim lesson in the hazards of imposing one’s own world-view on others.

We went in to Iraq – so we are now told – not because of the threat of the non-existent weapons of mass destruction, but because it was in the interests of the people of Iraq.

We didn’t do it for ourselves – oh no, we weren’t being selfish – we did it FOR THEM. And that was the argument I swallowed myself, when I spoke for the war in March 2003; and I must now admit, in all intellectual candour, that it looks pretty thin.

If we knew then what we know now, that the removal of Saddam – on behalf of the people of Iraq – would mean killing upwards of 14,000 of those very same people and starting a vicious insurgency in the Sunni triangle, would we do it again?

We should have the common sense to listen to others before we presume to act in their interests: we should listen to the landlords who would like to keep tolerating a perfectly legal activity; we should listen to the countryside; and we should not have decided, from a position of such ignorance, that the best way to help Iraq was to kill so many of its people.

66 thoughts on “Labour will always decide what’s best (Smoking in public)”

  1. Oh come now, that’s a product of the power disease. Who decided that the poll tax was the best form of taxation for the country? Who decided that a new organisation would be best for single mothers to enable them to claim upkeep and support from missing fathers?

    That’s one of the jobs of government, to implement what they feel is “best”.

    A nanny state is not just a labour problem, it’s a problem of any government that passes laws which effect people.

  2. If they do pass such a law I might start going to pubs. And if so, the government might be responsible when I become an alcoholic!

  3. Spot on, as regards most crusaders’ scrabbling need to paper over their own insecurities by changing other people’s lives. …regardless of those people’s wishes or the actual consequences of their own actions.

    However, I take very minor issue with this:
    “They make windows into men’s souls, dislike what they see, and resolve to change it.”

    I’d have phrased it that they make windows into men’s souls, DECIDE what they see, and resolve to change it.

  4. Surely, in the age of increasing scientific advances, it would be a lot easier to leave it up to our scientists to develop smoke-less, smell-less cigarettes?

    Oh well, one can dream.

  5. I don’t think they do “make windows into mens souls” and “dislike what they see”. I don’t think they consider the persons they are affecting AT ALL. This is not a desire to correct – this is a desire to control.

    They must not only be in charge but they MUST be seen to be in charge.

    Oh God help us.

  6. You and the Daily Mail and the News of the World have all shown galactic hypocrisy this week. Only last week the government was being too libertarian in deregulating casinos. Now it is being too interfering in banning smoking.

    Which is it? Eh?

  7. you have only to charcoal-grill frankfurters for half an hour on your barbie

    I choose whether or not I do that. I don’t choose whether or not somebody else smokes in my presence.

  8. Surely, in this age of human rights, a human has the right to breath fresh air, not poluted by the remnants of a burning weed after it has been recycled through someones filthy lungs, those rights must take precedence over the smokers rights to kill himself and those around him.

    For gods sake, ban it in public and let us breath fresh air, its killing many thousands a year in this country alone, and ensuring that generations of children grow up addicted to smoking before they have reached adulthood.

    Its filthy, disgusting, and makes people sick with the vile stench that clings to every article of clothing, not to mention the putrid breath of smoker’s, who from time to time inflict the remnants of their habit on people unlucky enough to be in breathing distance.

    Its not that i have anything against smokers, just the stench that they inflict on us.

    Give it up and live a clean and healthy life.

  9. But Paul surely, in this age of human rights, a human has the right to breath fresh air, not polluted by the exhaust fumes and carcinogens that selfish car ownership spits out.

    My “right” to fresh air must take precedence over the car driver’s “right” to pollute his space and those around him.

    It’s filthy, disgusting, and makes people sick with the vile fumes that cling to every article of clothing of those unfortunate enough to walk through small towns, let alone London.

    It’s not that I have anything against drivers, just the stench, pollution and benzene, cresols, 1,3-butadiene et al. that they inflict on us.
    Give it up and live a clean and healthy life.

  10. Your never going to stop people travelling, but you can stop them smoking, so again, don’t be so effing simple.

  11. But Paul why is it so simple? Cars spill out a lot more pollution than cigs. Having a car is a choice, just like being a smoker is a choice.

    If you want to use the “it smells and it spreads cancer” arguement then look to your driveway first, because that car does a lot more damage than people smoking.

    Are you being simple, or selfish?

  12. Boris is good at linking several issues together on common theme, but that was a huge stretch! There may be a moral aspect to all three questions, but in terms of information available and policy objectives there is a huge difference.

    Iraq was a leap in the dark. Not only did Bush and Blair and their entourage lack any knowledge of the culture and history of the country (or apparently care), but they also had no clear ideas about what to do with Iraq after the invasion.

    Smoking, on the other hand, is something we all know about. We have personal experience, the data is available. Government policy here in Scotland is unambiguous: to protect people from passive smoking. This should be easy to implement (though Labour may still botch it in England).

    Fox hunting lies somewhere between these two issues, because of the city/country divide and the lack of any dialogue between the two sides based on common experience.

  13. Ah Paul, the arrogance of someone using health as an excuse to ban something they don’t like, whilst at the same time causing more pollution and problems with their own lifestyle.

    You should become an MP.

  14. I was concerned for your welfare, and mine, don’t take it personally, just stop smoking and do yourself a favour. You’ll smell a whole lot nicer, and be more attractive to the opposite sex, it’ll open up a whole new world to you, you won’t be shunned in public, people won’t avoid you like the plague, and you won’t get nasty stares in restaurants when you set fire to something in your mouth and polute a confined space with a pungent smell.
    If you can’t do it for me, do it for yourself Barry
    You know it makes sense, there are places and people available to help you, patches that wean you off nicotine slowly, help groups that support you through the bad times.

    Go on, give it up.

    Take care now.

  15. Paul I’m simply pointing out the hypocrisy of those who wish to ban it on health grounds when there are other, more dangerous and more pressing issues to the public health.

    Be honest. Admit you want to ban it because you hate the smell and I’ll respect that, but please don’t wrap it up in a “think of the children” excuse. You can’t force people to become healthier (lets ban chips next) and the banning of smoking in public simply moves it to the home, and presents a greater risk to children who have a parent that smokes.

    I’m not even going to touch on a government who believes they should be able to mark private property as a public space.

    I am, of course, as you guessed, a smoker, but I’m the one that stands outside pubs and restaurants because I know the smell irritates, I don’t even smoke in my own house, I stand outside in the back garden because the wife is a non-smoker.

  16. My posts say everything i feel about the subject, it stinks, it makes innocent people stink, it even makes you stink, as no doubt your wife will be thinking, if not actually saying it.
    On top of the stink, it’s killing people, its at this very moment killing you, you can’t see it, because the addiction is clouding your judgment.
    I hate the smell, and i hate the fact, indisputable fact, that it can be harmful to me, now you can spout all you want about polution from cars being just as dangerous, but the facts don’t support those smoking lobby claims, and using transport polution to give yourself an argument for not banning it in public places is pretty weak.
    At last, governments are recognising that total public bans are popular with the majority of the population, your in the minority, you should be thankful that you have a government that cares about you enough to encourage you to give up, or restrict the damage your habit causes on the innocent public.
    So Barry, look to the future, no early morning coughs, no discoloured digits that make your wife cringe at the thought of you touching her, she’ll love you for it.
    Next time i hear from you, i expect you to be able to at least survive on half the amount you need to get through the day, take small steps and one day, when people have stopped avoiding you, come back and say “thanks Paul” you were right, can taste my food again, my clothes don’t leave a wretched smell wherever i leave them, and who knows, maybe one day soon you’ll be able to afford a car just like me.

    Don’t disappoint me Barry, I finally think we’re getting somewhere, and you’ll be cured in no time.

    Good luck, it won’t be easy, but I do feel you have a certain character that will help you breath easily again.

  17. As an automotive engineering student, my 2p worth on cars: The European Parliament legislates every few years to make cars cleaner. The latest set of rules is called Euro4, and will ensure that cars will be cleaner than ever before. A modern car in any case emits a similar amount of pollution to several 70s cars (somewhere in the 10s, I can’t be bothered looking it up) and has to have its environmental impact assessed from manufacturer to how much can be recycled. If cigarettes were to be subjected to the same controls as cars, you would have to smoke at least a packet of 20 now to make as much smoke as a single cigarette 50 years ago.

    So the government may not be banning the car, but it is working sensibly with manufacturers so we get to the point in a few years time where new cars will not give out any polluting gases. There will come a time when your car will run on hydrogen, and the exhaust “fumes” will be water vapour. Obviously it would be stupid to try to force this to happen now, because the economy would fall over the day after the ban was enforced.

    The same is not true of cigarettes, and they could be banned from enclosed public places now, if the political will was there. I have to say that I don’t know of a single pub that bans smoking in my area, and faced with that lack of choice, I support the governments plan to legislate – they’re not going to ban it everywhere, after all, which is probably not too bad a compromise. It’s extremely rare for me to agree with Labour on anything, but I have strong personal reasons to be for this particular measure, as well as the scientific and social arguments.

  18. The smoking ban in Ireland has been a tremendous success and infringed on personal liberty not one whit. As a committed boozer and asthmatic ex-smoker, it has been a real boon to be able to frequent licensed premises without having to pick my way to the bar through the murk of a swirling, yellow pea-souper.

    One may down as many intoxicating libations as one wishes safe in the knowledge that one will come to on the morrow as fragrant as when one left the office the evening before and with a less calamitous hangover than one would have experienced ere the introduction of the sensible smoking ban.

    The ban is also useful from a personal security perspective. A quick assessment of the carriage, dress and demeanour of the huddled mass of smokers in the doorway of a premises one proposes to patronise serves to quickly persuade or disabuse one on the advisability of getting drunk in there.

  19. Ah well Paul, work provides my car when I need one, although buying one wouldn’t be a stretch by any means. It depends where I’m working. I didn’t need one for 6 months as I could happily get a train and then a nice electrical powered bus. Now I have no choice but to drive and I find it a chore.

    My point, as you keep overlooking, is not that a smoking ban is bad, I already stand outside so there’s no change there, but that cars produce more pollution and present a more pressing health risk in cities than smokers do, to drivers and non-drivers alike, yet successive governments from both sides are so beholden to the car lobby there’s a cowardice in doing anything about it. The cutbacks in public transport from both sides, the lack of investigation into alternative fuels and the reliance on the EU to force through better pollution laws shows that thinking about public health is limited to what each party think they can get away with and what is popular, as opposed to what may do the most good.

  20. Barry Dorrans v Paul Anderson – quite a debate! *Congratulations* for holding the longest running debate on this website to date!!

    I see the points you are making as subjective views on what should be banned as the highest priority: for Paul it is smoking for all the polluting effects, for Barry it is cars and fumes that leave people swimming in polluted air. It all boils down to what you perceive to be highest on your agenda of pet hates.

    My bugbear would be the proliferation of Spam and bad language in emails – pollution of the mind is really top on my list. How could this be controlled?

  21. Barry, you obviously didn’t read the two previous posts before posting.
    Now, I understand that you find it difficult to see any rational point with clarity of vision, its the addictive and damaging consequence of the poisons currently invading your brain, so let me say once and for all, you will find it difficult to free yourself from the shackles of your addiction, but once broken, you will experience a life of joy and happiness.
    Every morning when you wake up, you can enjoy the taste of your breakfast, you won’t be bent over the toilet throwing out the remnants of the previous days nicotine intake, when you reach middle age, if not already there, you’ll be able to walk up a flight of stairs without stopping for breath three times, you won’t suffer the indignity of being hooked up to an oxygen bottle for hours a day just to keep you alive.
    Apart from the physical improvement, you should benefit from an increased financial worth, with which you can treat your long suffering wife, oh Barry, imagine the difference a life free from addiction can make to you and the people you love.

    If you could only see life as us non addicted see it, i’m sure you would agree with what you are reading now.

    Time is a great healer, in a month or so, your lungs will start to recover from the years of abuse, your general level of fitness will increase significantly, you never know, you might even be able to show Mrs. Dorrans a good time.

    Give it a shot, what have you got to loose other than a bad smell and an addiction that is killing you.

    I’ll be here for advice and support whenever you feel you need it.

    Stay Strong, salvation is but a few short weeks away, thinking about you, Paul.

  22. Personally I like a drink and a fag, but I don’t smoke unless I’m welcome to or with other smokers. And while I appreciate that non-smokers don’t want to go into pubs that smokers do I don’t really want it to be a blanket ban. Surely there’s nothing wrong with having some smoking pubs left for us chuffers? But then I assume that it’s all market led – publicans have the choice at the moment to instigate a no-smoking policy but don’t because of the amount of money they will lose.

  23. Melissa, spam is easier, there’s quite a few options ranging from automated examination of emails to public lists of spamming machines so you can refuse connections. But because people highjack other machines to send it, legislation will never do any good as the police or the DPA do not have either the resources or the knowledge to track it down to the source.

    Bad language is a simple filtering mechanism. Of course what you consider bad language is another man’s free expression, and I imagine that there is always a certain element of “free expression” in parlimentary emails.

    If you do want details on these things drop me a mail, I can point out some of the more common solutions.

    And Paul, calm down, go outside and have a fag 🙂

  24. Did you know that Bill Gates gets 4 million spam emails a day? That’ll teach him to be so clever…

  25. Paul & Barry:

    I’m not sure that you can really compare smoking and cars. Not, that is, unless you’re in the habit of taking your car to the pub, and wafting its exhaust fumes into other people’s hair/faces.

    Having said that, I’m not in favour of a ban, because I’m a liberal at heart, and don’t think government has any place nannying people. The only argument that I feel has any merit for the ban is that of the health and safety of those who work in pubs and restaurants. That argument only holds merit if there’s real economic pressure for people to work in these environments – ie. if a significant fraction of the local unskilled / low-skilled jobs are in smokey pubs and restaurants. I know several people that work in pubs, and no people that would like to work in a pub, but won’t because of the smoke. So I see no case for a ban there. YMMV.

    I don’t smoke, and I find smoking unpleasant, not so much for any health dangers – I don’t think the occasional whiff of smoke is going to do me all that much harm – but because I dislike the smell of stale smoke on my clothes / hair. But that’s OK – I’m free to not go to smokey places. I won’t eat in smoky restaurants, and only go in smoky pubs if they serve decent beer. If anyone opens a non-smoking pub, or a pub with a non-smoking bar, that sells a decent selection of real ales within walking distance of my house or workplace, I will transfer my drinking alleigance to it forthwith.

  26. “… we should not have decided, from a position of such ignorance, that the best way to help Iraq was to kill so many of its people.” (Boris Johnson November 18, 2004.)

    Is this the same Boris Johnson by any chance?

    “Saddam is a great acne spot on the otherwise beaming face of the earth, and it is time he was squeezed.”

    From “Saddam is like a zit you can’t ignore” by Boris Johnson. Boris Johnson is MP for Henley and editor of The Spectator.

    ware text wrap:

    Or more easily:

    … “you can’t ignore” … until some half-baked opinion poll indicates that it might be politically advantageous to claim to believe the opposite.

  27. Spam, Melissa? Start with a mail client that has “smart” spam filtering – viz, Bayesian filtering that’ll analyse the mail automatically and learn from your decisions. Thunderbird is ideal for Windows:

    Spamsieve will add on to most Mac clients:

    If that’s not enough, try K9:

    or mailwasher:

    I don’t know a lot about software that filters for language, however. I did hear of a theatre company that sent invitations to dozens of schools and only got one reply. All the others schools’ software had deleted the mails. The production was “Dick Whittington and his cat”.

  28. Yes, Labour may tell you how long you have to char-grill your frankfuters, but The Conservatives will sack you if you put yours in the wrong place….

  29. Why not ban smoking in all pubs and restaurants, but then let these businesses apply for a “smokers’ licence” which would allow them to be exempt? They could then make it clear that they are to cater for smokers only and make a packet by catering exclusively to that group. Meanwhile, us non-addicts can go to the bulk of venues and not be made to breathe in filthy smoke or wake up the next day stinking of sulphur. Might that not be a good compromise?

  30. A bit unfair, Vicus.

    Boris’s ‘tortuous logic and bizarre linking’ is a literary device which has served to stimulate this discussion – with no less than 36 comments so far.

    I wish I had as many comments on The Skakagrall.

  31. Copy of letter sent to Sir Charles George, President of the British Medical Association:

    9 November 2004

    Dear Sir Charles,

    I feel it important to report a disorder that briefly overcame me recently. I had sat down in my local hostelry last Monday, had opened my copy of The Independent, and had just read the following paragraph on page 18,..

    ”Professor Sir Charles George, the medical director of the British Heart Foundation, had not, until now, favoured a ban on smoking in public places but has changed his view because of research showing minute particles of cigarette smoke could trigger heart attacks.”

    ..when the symptoms of the disorder first began to manifest themselves. I started to breathe faster. My heart began to pound harder and harder. I could feel the blood surging and vibrating through the arteries in my neck. My hands convulsively clenched, my teeth clamped together, my nostrils flared, my lips curled, and a red mist descended in front of my eyes.

    As the attack developed, the red mist turned out to be the fine spray of blood that was spurting from the heart in the chest into which I was frenziedly hammering a large wooden stake. The arms and legs attached to the chest writhed and flailed against the floor as I dealt the stake one colossal hammer blow after another. And the silver-haired, dewlapped, and rather aristocratic head at the top of the chest bobbled from side to side, the mouth gargling and the eyes popping with each blow. And as I hammered, I heard myself screaming: “If you want to run a moral crusade, don’t hide behind ****ing fake medical research, you fat bastard!”

    Nevertheless, as the attack grew ever more frenzied, I still somehow managed to retain the presence of mind to grope for the necessary remedy. My hand found the packet, and I slid out and lit a Marlboro, and took a long deep pull. And I followed that with a large shot of neat single malt whisky. Within seconds, the misty red scene dissolved and faded, my clenched hands relaxed, and my pounding heart slowed to its normal rhythm. After a few more pulls on the Marlboro, it was mercifully all over: the medicine had worked again.

    This is not the first such apoplectic episode that I have experienced. They seem to be occurring with increasing frequency. Friends report similar excursions. Research that has been recently conducted indicates that such attacks are strongly correlated with reading or hearing minute amounts of the opinions aired publicly by assorted medical experts, political pundits, and other moralists bent on depriving ordinary people of one or other of their natural liberties. In the past, I used to believe that in a democracy these people should be free to foul the airwaves with their noxious opinions. But I have now come to the conclusion that it would greatly improve public health if they were banned from expressing such opinions in public places. I am, of course, no zealot, and I think such people should be free to articulate these opinions in the privacy of their own homes, or in open fields or hilltops well away from human habitation. If not, I fear that there will be a rapid rise in the frequency of the kind of episodic frenzy that I have described – and in some cases with fatal outcomes.

    I look forward to your cooperation in this new and progressive advance of medical science. And I will, of course, forward a copy of these suggestions to my MP, and other interested parties.

    I remain your humble & obedient servant,

  32. I can’t sleep.

    I dont care if people smoke in their own homes, but a smoking ban, or at least a compromise in public places is a good thing. I come back from nightclubs stinking of smoke and coughing. Much is said about smokers freedoms, but what about my freedom from these effects?

    Maybe a “nanny state” can be a state that treats smokers with kid gloves – as long as smokers are treated as though their “habit” doesnt hurt other people, then the smoker proportion of the population won’t throw their toys out the pram?

    Some towns only have about 1 nightclub, or villages only one pub – if establishments can opt for being smoking/nonsmoking then a persons “rights” would be down to a lottery of what postcode they fall under.

    Most other habits are regulated to an extent – people and establishments can make noise only to a volumne that complies with the law.
    In public areas people must comply with driving laws for the sake of other drivers – if they want to thrash a car to death then they can go banger racing.
    Why should smoking be an exception?

    And I dont want wrinkles…

    P.S. I’m not a Tory, but stay in public life. Things are really over the top.

  33. The fundamental issue with smoking as opposed to drinking, is that if there is someone drinking wine or beer on the next table, I don’t end up ingesting the waste products.

    If someone wants to choose to smoke, fine. However if doing so removes the ability of those around them not to smoke then they are being fundamentally anti-social. The smell of cigarettes can be rather obnoxious, even in the street. Walking behind a smoker is unbearable – but fortunately short-lived.

    Smoking bans are in existence today. We don’t see smokers on the London Underground following Kings Cross: surprise, people survive the experience and can do without their drug of choice.

    To turn the commonly used (and completely disingenious) argument around: If you want to smoke, then just don’t go into pubs and restaurants.

    There is also the argument that ‘people would stay away’. This is rubbish – it may be valid if some pubs/restaurants were affected, but won’t be valid if there was a ban. Similarly, there are many more non-smokers than smokers, I know I have not gone into establishments where there are smokers, it is too unpleasant. Indeed, I saw an interview with a guy who owned properties in NY and the UK. He said that after an initial lull business went up about 7% after the ban came in.

    On the other hand, I can see no reasons to completely ban ‘smokers’ rooms’. Indeed, as I understand it the law would prohibit a sole trader smoking in their office(*). This is ridiculous.

    I can only assume that this will be the sacrifice made to get the bill through. A good example of the ’40 casinos’ tactic which BlairCo used recently (compromising on 8).

    (*) though once you get to more than a single person it is a difference issue.

  34. Oh, one more thing….

    … I might get more carcinogens chargrilling my frankfurters than passive smoking.

    You’re missing the fundamental issue there that the former is a choice made by me, the latter is a choice made for me.

    (Even if I’m not grilling the food myself, going to a barbecue I can be pretty sure someone will be chargrilling).

  35. to smoke or not to smoke ? I come from a country which while unable to sort out the high levels of crime has managed to impose the much dreaded smoking ban in public places.Prior to the ban, while it was still being bashed about as it is here in the UK , my friends and I were against it , I’m a non smoker but most of my friends were serious smokers and we thought it would be the end of our very active social life , cant smoke in restaurants or pubs how would we survive ? every one thought the pubs and restaurants would lose clients etc it would be a disaster. Then the day arrived and it was banned and guess what ? WHAT A PLEASURE…even the smokers have to admit that its forced them to cut down, if not give up. Now for me currently living in the UK , 4 years seems like a VERY long time to wait for smoke free pubs and restaurants…bring it on!!!!

  36. Oh dear, I’m going to ruin Paul’s nice line in facile comments about smokers. I’m a former smoker who doesn’t care about the ban but does think a lot more should be done about pollution on the roads. This is due to being a pedestrian in an urban area whose pollution levels are higher than parts of London*. Just like a passive smoker in a pub, I don’t get a choice about inhaling potential carcinogens: instead I have to suffer the consequences of other people’s choices. I live next to a primary school on a busy main road where traffic is bumper to bumper: do you really think the kids who walk to school are getting “fresh clean air”? If so, why has there been such a staggering rise in asthama?

    Phil rightly points out that car manufacturers are constantly improving the quality of exhaust fumes but traffic is steadily increasing in quantity. The “fresh clean air” Paul extols will not miraculously appear if smoking is banned, because it isn’t only smoke from tobacco which is throwing particles into the air and trashing our lungs. I’d rather see the government deliver a real intergrated transport system which enables more car users to use other forms of transport and higher penalties for careless drivers who run down cyclists (something I’m sure Boris would agree with as well as my own MP).


  37. I’m a non smoker but I think a smoking ban in all pubs serving food is insane – The nearest pub to my house that serves good beer is a no smoking pub and whilst they serve a mean pint of Deuchars it stinks in there of BO and farts after 10pm and whatever it is they use to clean the toilets (smells like fresh paint) before then. Occasionally you get overwhelmed by cheap perfume. If this is the future of public houses I’ll have to give up my Camra membership. My favourite pub happens to have a no smoking room – and that seems by far a more friendly solution. Some people use it. More seriously the pub is the only place I can go these days to sit and relax with a group of friends – I know two households where smoking is allowed in doors (every other smoker I know goes outside their own home to smoke because they have children/tried to give up in the past) so just as a conversation starts to flow someone leaves the room. Much as it goes against the grain to say “let market forces decide” but on this one I think it should be entirely up to the landlord if s/he wants to ban smoking in their pub. If its a popular idea more and more of them will do it anyway

  38. Big it up for Boris! I do not smoke and hate being in smokey atmospheres but this is one more “Nanny says you must” situations. It seems to me that the social climate is already changing in favour of non-smokers, voluntarily. A large number of pubs serving food and restaurants now offer no smoking areas or no smoking at all. I always think persuasion is better than coercion.

  39. I’m a non smoker who is against the ban, purely for the where will it stop arguments.

    Yes there is an argument that smokers will move to their homes and drink at home. Yes there is the argument that it will be the working class drinking establishments that tend not to serve food that will continue to drive down the health of this community. This all pales however to that fact that it is simply an issue of civil liberties.

    Where along the line did it become acceptable for the Government to legislate on any part of our lives that they see fit? This is no longer a social contract whereby society is held together by a wish to observe certain immutable laws of security.

    No this is dictatorship dressed up as democracy. It used to be true that an Englishman’s house was his castle, yet we are having smacking bans, smoking bans, fox hunting, fast food, binge drinking etc etc…

    Where does it stop, not at a persons food and drink, not at how they treat there children, not at their hobbies.

    Where is our ability to say, NO at what point do we say this is not an acceptable use of government power. Is it when they ban books or art forms, is it when they restrict the internet or legislate against religious practice.

    There must be a point upon which we are simply being driven into a channel of pointless autonotism and that the innovative diversity of the human race is stifled.

    I argue that we are now all mearly an arm of government, they are no longer out servants but our masters.

  40. I don’t care what smoking does to smokers but it is jolly nice to be able to go to the pub and not stink of smoke, I have recently been over in Ireland recently where it is banned in pubs and it is a revelation.

  41. Good post, George Faux! It’s great to see a non-smoker speak up for us hapless smokers. And indeed, where will it end? I tell you what:

    The next thing after banning smoking tobacco will be to ban drinking alcohol. After all, it results in cirrhosis of the liver, and early death. You’ll only be able to drink Pepsi or Coke.

    I suspect that, given the tobacco ban arguments, it will be led by a charge against ‘passive drinking’. After all, when you drink you breathe out alcohol (which is how police breathalysers work, remember?), and therefore other occupants of the pub who may be drinking Cherie Cola will inhale minute amounts of alcohol, and become slightly intoxicated, and fall downstairs or crash their cars or something, and it’s your fault!

    I can almost quote from the future BMA report on ‘passive drinking’ which will show conclusively that passive drinking is he cause of 27% of deaths in Burton on Trent or someplace.

  42. Barry

    Just a quick line to enquire as to your progress, hope this message finds you in clean air and renewed health, those discreet patches are saving thousands of lives a year, drop me a line and let me know you’re ok.



  43. Dr Reid’s hospitals are killing more people from MRSA than deaths from passive smoking. Passive smoking can be unpleasant but it is a minor public health issue. The Government should focus on the major issues, particularly those for which it has a responsibility. This Government is wide open to ridicule, forget rational debate.

  44. In respnse to Mags – modern cars in my experience are the most environmentally friendly vehicles on the road, and the reduction in pollution per car far outstrips the increase in the number of cars. Most buses and lorries seem to chuck out loads of soot, even the new ones. IMO, the solution is not to try to get more people to use public transport that doesn’t exist, but to move more freight onto the railways and off the back of lorries. This won’t go down very well with the lorry drivers but many will still be needed to move goods from railhead to warehouse, and surely the rest can be taught to drive the new trains? This would solve loads of problems, from reducing pollution, by having fewer lorries and less congestion, to reducing roadworks (which also reduces pollution by further cutting down on queuing).

  45. I am a social smoker and have thought long and hard about this issue, changing my mind several times. Don’t assume that all people for a ban (for that is where I am now) have leapt to that conclusion based on a desire to control people’s lives.

    As a liberal, I believe in the right of people to do what they like to themselves. I am therefore in favour of legalising, licensing and otherwise controlling, for example, marijuana. I do not think that tobacco and alcohol should be illegal, but then nor should other drugs.

    However, the right to swing one’s fist, as the saying goes, ends where the other person’s nose begins. And this is where the smoking ban comes in. This isn’t a ban on smoking tobacco, and I would not agree with that, but banning smoking in certain areas where non-smokers do not have a choice as to whether they are assailed with smoke is a different kettle of fish.

    As I said, I am a social smoker so I am precisely the kind of person that this would impact upon. I do not consider myself a selfish person however and am prepared to give up a small pleasure that is incredibly damaging to me anyway for the ske of other’s comfort. I think that’s only fair. What I would really like would be a licensing system, whereby certain bars or pubs could apply for a licence to be smoking, with licensing controls.

    So stop leaping to the conclusion that this is about control. There are limits to personal freedoms – traffic laws, for example, prevent you from driving on whichever side of the road you wish and so on – try arguing that that is a function of the nanny state and see where that gets you.

    People seem just to resist change. A good example – the casinos. They are tightly and very strictly controlled, but suggest liberalising the rules and the people up in arms about ‘letting’ people have access to all that lovely fun (and potential abuse) are precisely the same people who are up in arms about the ‘nanny state’. Get your arguments in order, because at the moment you are just coming across as whingers who are knee jerking at everything that comes out of this government (of which I am emphatically not a fan, by the way.)

  46. Phil – anything that moves road traffic towards rail traffic would be good. Perhaps someone could have a word with the Royal Mail about restarting the mail trains? 🙂

    I’d suggest reprivatising the railway but that just gives away my leftish position totally!

  47. Of course it is in our interest to have a stable democracy in Iraq- any fool can see that. It doesnt make it easier to get that situation when people continually carp on about it all the time mainly to score points off Tonys lot.
    On the smoking issue it has to be said that people drinking alcohol near me does not mean I have to ingest the same drink but people smoking near me means that I am inflicted with the disgusting smell. It ages me prematurely and hurts my poor eyes. Now smokers will have to join me outside and keep me company while I smoke my weed.
    Boris you are far better off away from Michael Howard. The man is patently unelectable- you on the other hand will fight another day. If I were you I would resign from the Spectator and go and see for yourself the situation in the Middle East and Africa. Really get out to these places and spend some time out there. Too many Tories are products of Britain and have very narrow views. You are the only Tory who gives me and my friends hope but you really need to get out there and get a first hand experience of the rest of the world. We are far too interconnected these days for you not to have a deep meaningful understanding of exactly why the Aids situation in Botswana (for instance) has repurcussions for us all. You are a bright fellow- dont waste it,

  48. Dear god, a fan club? I’m making no attempt to give up. I’ve already given up all my other vices I have to keep one going, at least for another couple of years!

  49. Mags – I’m not sure the railway is up to it, as yet. It’s not just the state of what’s there, but in a lot of places double lines have been cut down to single track over the last 10 years or so, which massively reduces the potential capacity. It would take a long time and a lot of money to restore that capacity, but if the political will was there, I’m sure it could be found. If we were a poorer country we’d be able to get the EU to pay for it… and if we managed public expenditure properly we could probably afford it out of general taxation.

  50. “What? I said, still incredulous. Next thing, I said, you’ll be wanting to ban drink in order to remove any temptation to get drunk, or ban cars, to avoid ever being tempted to drive too fast…”

    Just a quick excerpt – I can find plenty more of this rubbish logic throughout your post Boris and some of the comments that follow (some decent points true, but some absolute idiots post on here).

    The obvious difference between banning smoking in public places and banning drinking or driving is this:

    Driving too fast is not inherent in the idea of driving. Driving too fast is something one can do while driving, but it is not fundamental to it. Drinking too much is not fundamental to the idea of drinking. HOWEVER: passive smoke IS fundamental to the idea of smoking in public places. There is no possible way one can smoke in a public place without inflicting passive smoke on others, without (in an ironically perverse twist) banning all non-smokers.

    Please make sane points and then stop, don’t use arguments which wash with the Daily Mail readers and no one else…*

    * Apologies to all Daily Mail readers who read it for laughs and who get the manipulative rubbish that is written, I am not referring to you!

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