Tuesday, October 25, 2005

No smoke without ire

"I smoke. If this bothers anyone, I recommend you look around the world in which we live...and shut your fucking mouth."

Bill Hicks

Bill, of course, died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the tender age of 32. And oh, how he is still missed.

But now there's another kind of smoking bill for us to process and, this time, it's not celebrating the joys of inhaling tobacco fumes. Rather, this one wants to ban smoking in all working environments in England. Although it's currently in chaos as opinion is divided as to what extent this should be enforced. Total, outright ban? Banned wherever food is sold? Special rooms just for smokers?

Personally, I say let's go for the total ban. Let's get it over and done with and spare us the ambiguity. And I'm speaking here as a regular smoker. I've tried to quit on several occasions but, like everyone else, I fail once I've had a few drinks. My first proper drinking experiences were intertwined with smoking to the extent that having a beer is almost unimaginable without having a cigarette too. So on this occasion, and increasingly mindful of my own mortality, I'm happy for someone else to intervene and say "No! Sorry! You're not allowed to smoke here!" Because when I can't, I don't, and I cope with it. More importantly, none of my peers will be smoking around me either, so all temptation is removed. Unless we want to go outside of course which, in a British winter, is not a very tantalising prospect.

Yes, it will be difficult for a while and I suppose there will be a few frayed tempers while we adjust. But hopefully by the time the ban is introduced, the government will have stopped flapping over the licensing laws debacle so we can at least stay out past 11pm without being rushed home by the long arm of the nanny state. So we trade one pleasure for another. This will also cushion the blow for pubs worried about losing custom from pariah smokers.

So it’s a perfect compromise then. The government promises to allow bars to open later, and I’ll promise not to smoke inside them. Deal?


Sam said...

I have to say I'm 50-50 on this one. Being a smoker (who has tried to quit on many occasions) can see why the smoking ban would be helpful. Just like you, it would remove any kind of temptation and we all could drink in peace until after 11:00pm. Besides, things would just be easier if you say no to everyone about the whole ordeal instead of making more stupid rules that get lost in every different situation.

But then, of course, there is the smoking side of me that I know will be jumping up and down like a small child having a tantrum needing the nicotine to filter into my system so I can wash it down with a beer once I get a few drinks in me. Smoking does go hand in hand with drinking, like peanut butter and jelly. Part of me thinks that if they were to remove smoking from bars that a little bit of bar charm and character would be lost. Isn't that how it always is? When you go out to a pub somewhere, you open the doors and walk into room filled with smoke? Of course that just could be me and my weird thought process.

Ah, what the hell. I say just be rid of it all. That'll be one less thing for us all to worry about.

Anonymous said...

As a social smoker who only started at the age of 21 and has never tried to give up this pisses me off. It smacks of New Labour in that a) Our nanny state is trying to interfere in every aspect of our lives and b) its a total fuck up.

I'm looking forward to the partial ban so I can smoke in peace without any non-smokers, or worse still, reformed smokers complaining and giving me a guilt trip. Hopefully these twats will piss off to the 'clean pubs' and leave us to enjoy ourselves. However I suspect that far from the non-smoking pubs being full of happy non-smokers, people will cram into the few even smokier pubs because thats were the sociable fun crowd will be.

That is all.


Citizen Sane said...

Yeah, I used to be committed to the "right" to smoke cause, but I now realise it's bollocks. I want to give up at some point, but I am weak and chemically addicted to nicotine, so crumble at the first whiff of the barmaid's apron.

It's a classic utilitarian dilemma - what is the best option for most people? Well, most people don't smoke, so the decision should back them. We're not being told we can't smoke, just not in certain workplaces. I can see the logic in saying that we wouldn't make people work in asbestos environments, so the same should be true of tobacco smoke. They're both potentially fatal.

Much as I love 'em, I recognise they are dreadful killers. Sad but true.

That said, the law is impractical. What defines food? What if a pub serves peanuts on a plate with cutlery? Unworkable nonsense.

Anyway, GB: I know for a fact that it wouldn't affect you at your favourite after work pub. Won't stop us smoking outside!

dw said...

I also smoke yet do not fight the restrictions here. I do pay more than three dollas a day in tobacco tax and statistically I will die quickly and not linger on sapping the system (like aids patients of which have license to backrupt everybody if needed.)
Here though laws against smoking can lead to laws against anything anybody doesn't like and the Liberals love that precedent. (second hand smoke cannot be good but result oreintated research overblows it's effects but people should have a right to not breath it so smoking bars should be allowed. (tobacco is a cash cow in taxes)

dw said...

I want to add that my experiences here in Liberalmania University town have shown me that people have contempt for smokers. No room here for the stories that have shown me that they simply have contempt for people and smoking is become a legitimate vehicle for them to simply express contempt for others.

Citizen Sane said...

dw, two things:

1) Not sure why you're singling out AIDS patients as "sapping" the system (I don't want to delve any deeper on that one). But I'd have thought that cancer and heart disease patients are the biggest drain because they are by far the biggest killers. And what's the biggest cause of cancer and heart disease? Cigarettes of course.

2) Three dollars? Pah! No sympathy. In the UK a pack of cigarettes will set you back £5.20 - which currently converts to $9.30.

Hobbzee said...

So to put in my tuppence worth I agree that the sooner smoking is banned the better. (Again me being a ‘social smoker’). Ditto everything Sane said – it will mean the difference between me sitting in the pub and smoking two fags (i.e. nipping out into the street – v antisocial) and smoking7 or 8 in one sitting. (Sometimes more). I think bar staff should legally have the right to work in a smoke free environment. Re food – the funniest thing I’ve heard about this is that the no-smoking rule will be not be applied when people consume what is to become known as ‘ambient food’ which so far covers peanuts, cheese sandwiches (not sure why ham sandwiches aren’t included but maybe they’ll soon follow) crisps and presumably the old favourite, pork scratchings. Ambient food –brilliant! But I think one thing I am looking forward to most of all is coming home form the pub and my clothes not stinking of smoke – that will be a major bonus….

Citizen Sane said...

"Ambient food"? Who came up with that one?

This is fudged, unworkable crap. Blanket ban or nothing at all.

Perhaps this is the perfect metaphor for our government: desperate to please everyone so ends up with a daft, confusing and nonsensical law.

dw said...

I would have to quit if I lived there. About 4 to 6 dollas a pack here, 60%is tax.

Aids was a 100 percent preventable disease and mostly still is. The history of the discovery and spread of aids curdles my blood and although pointless now their is a political lobby to blame and that same lobby is still perverting the effectiveness of the AMA and polluting JAMA. Soon we will have a TB epidemic thanx to laws designed to protect the spread of aids.

ph said...

I do not smoke and so will not be inconvenienced by any ban. However, I have no desire to see smoking completely banned particularly in pubs. After all no-one goes to public houses for their health giving properties irrspective of whether smoking is allowed or not

ph said...

I am sure that the extended licensing laws will cause much more ill health and general misery than any health benefits of a smoking ban. But I suppose joined-up government fell apart years ago.