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Come and enjoy my ‘smoking’ pub
LAST year I incurred the wrath of anti-smoking campaigners when I wrote about what I perceived to be the undemocratic nature of the national smoking ban.
Now, five years since the ban on smoking in confined public places was introduced, figures seem to show the legislation has been a success in terms of improving public health.
Hospitals have seen small drops in the number of patients admitted with heart attacks, children are no longer subjected to the same levels of second-hand smoke they were before the 2007 ban and it seems that fears smokers would simply puff away more in their own homes have proved unfounded.
So far so good – even an anti-ban advocate like me can’t argue with positive outcomes like that.
But, as a non-smoker, my gripe has never been about the fact that people can’t light up in the pub – it’s been about the fact that a liberty was given up with such ease.
Now it seems that the smoking ban as it stands doesn’t go far enough for some.
The Royal College of Physicians now supports a total ban on smoking in cars.
There has been talk of banning smoking in private cars when children are present and I am all for that because children can’t make an informed choice on whether they want to breath in second-hand smoke or not and they should rightly be protected from it.
But it’s those two words: “informed choice” which should be at the centre of any legislation such as the smoking ban.
Banning people from doing something which is legal, in their own car, is a step too far when it comes to infringing our civil liberties.
If I did smoke, and I wanted to light up in my motor, on my own, and have a cig, who the hell are you to tell me I’m not allowed to?
I should be able to make that decision for myself based on the latest information available to me on the dangers to my health of smoking – ie, I should be able to make an informed choice.
Rather than taking away a freedom, our focus should be on educating children about the dangers of smoking and making sure they never start in the first place.
Nobody starts smoking at 40 – it’s the 13-year-old who has his first crafty fag behind the bike sheds at school we should be targeting.
I remember last time I wrote on this subject I received letters and online vitriol from supporters of the ban.
All of their comments failed to grasp my point.
Most of them said smoking was a filthy dangerous habit and it was good to be able to go into pubs without having your clothes smell of smoke – I agree completely.
Here is my point again – and I challenge anyone to come up with an argument against it: Why, in a democracy, can I not open a pub for adults who want to smoke?
It would be staffed by people who knew the nature of the premises, there would be signs on the door stating “You are about to enter a smoking pub” and the customers would all understand that if they entered, they would be welcome to light up.
Non-smokers would, of course, be welcome to enter on the understanding that when they left, their clothes would smell of tobacco.
Such businesses could perhaps be run under licence, with the fee going to fund anti-smoking education or to the NHS.
Once again I challenge anyone to tell me why, in a democratic society, this is wrong?