Monday, 2 July 2007

The Smoking Ban- Britain Goes Smoke Free

I know I'm a day late but I read about this in asterisk's blog and wanted to chip in. Firstly, I do not smoke, and never have done. Even as a teenager I thought it was stupid, and I remember feeling very disappointed in two friends who took it up. I wouldn't mind the unhealthy aspect if it actually gave you a decent rush, but it doesn't, it gives you nothing, but a gnawing need to do it again. Plus it's extortionate. Why would anyone ever start? So I never took it up. But a lot of people I know smoke. I grew up in a house filled with smoke. My mum smoked when I was in the womb. My best friend and brothers smoke. So I have an affection for smokers.
'Smoke free' is a misnomer, of course. There is still smoke everywhere, from cars, buildings, and even cigarettes. I walked past a pub today and got a lungful of smoke from the builder smoking outside it. Normally, I wouldn't go in a pub at lunch. So the smoking ban has already passively attacked me, the non-smoker. OK I'm being petty. But it did happen.
Apparently 8 out of 10 people support the smoking ban. Fine. But do 8 out of 10 people like being criminalised and made to feel guilty for doing something legal? If smoking is that bad, ban it. But they won't. It IS that bad, and they won't ban it because they are making billions. So instead of banning it, they make you feel guilty for doing it, they fine you for doing it. But they sell it to you. So it's somewhat of a mixed message.
I think the solution should have been to make certain pubs non-smoking and others smoking, thus allowing freedom of choice. You could have smoking nights at clubs. The outright ban does not allow for freedom of choice, and is a direct attack on our civil liberties. I hope profits do plunge. If I was a smoker, I'd certainly be tempted to stay in than forced onto the pavement every hour. As it is, I've never understood why people go to pubs in the first place, you can drink at home cheaper and you get to choose the music.
'But people will give up.' Even my best friend, a croupier who is not allowed to go outside of the casino for the duration of a 12 hour shift to smoke, said this. Fine, if people WANT to give up. I just resent them being told to give up. Why can't places keep designated smoking rooms? Why would a non-smoker go in a smoking room anyway? We have to take responsibility for our own actions.
My boyfriend is very anti-smoking and will not let people smoke in our house, a stark contrast to the family home I grew up in, where the carpet seemed laced with tobacco. He thinks the ban is great and looks forward to coming home 'not stinking of smoke.' But you'll still stink of sweat. You'll still need a bath. What's the difference?
I personally think the risk from passive smoking is negligable. I've never woken up from a night out coughing my guts up like I've heard smokers do. It just doesn't happen. I think this ban is just to put us little people in our place. My main gripe of course, is that when I go to a club with my best friend this weekend, I'll be forced outside in the cold with her at regular intervals. And I'll still be passive smoking. Nothing will change. I suspect a lot of places will turn a blind eye. Who's going to enforce it? The smoking police?
I feel sad that I will never go to another smoky gig. I feel sad that people will not be able to relax and have a beer and a smoke if they want to. The erosion of freedom and the criminalising of people, in my eyes, is a bigger danger than passive smoking. It's the end of an era. And it will be something else next, so watch out. It might be something you really enjoy.


* (asterisk) said...

Granted, smokiness adds to a gig's ambience, which is why lighting techs have used smoke machines for so many years. I don't think we need ciggies for that, though.

The civil-liberties thing is a red herring. My belief is that a person's civil liberties end once they do something that impacts on others in a negative way. Rapists should have no civil liberties; or murderers; or child molesters; or smokers. By doing what they do, they are impacting on the health of people who choose not to do the same thing. Ergo, my civil liberties as a non-smoker are more important than those of someone who would rather fill my lungs with smoke against my wishes than they would pop outside for 6-7 minutes.

I don't have figures for passive smoking to hand (big surprise!), but I do believe the risks are there and that there is a cumulative effect. You and I grew up in smoky households, but neither of us has smoked ourselves (apart from a few experiments). Apart from the fact that this may well not be a coincidence, any damage done in those early years has probably subsequently been undone by our not smoking.

(By the way, my mum smoked while pregnant with me, too, but not while carrying my two siblings. I was the only child NOT to take up smoking.)

As to your point about still coming home smelling of something, still therefore needing a shower, at least that is the result of your own doing. I danced, jumped, ran etc; I sweated. Rather than I danced, jumped, ran etc; I stink of smoke.

I do agree, though, that there is a mixed message. I have little sympathy for smokers. I believe they choose to smoke. I think those who are "addicted" are simply weak. But why, if this is such a dangerous vice, are they allowed to do it? Why are they allowed to contribute negatively to the health of those around them? Why is there not an outright ban? Because that WOULD be a civil-liberties issue, that's why, and there would be a real uproar.

lightupvirginmary said...

Interesting points. I think comparing smoker to rapists or murderers is a little harsh- they do force something on people but it's only a black cloud of poison, not sex or a knife.
They should ban it, and they know they should, but they won't. They were quite happy to ban magic mushrooms recently which kill no one, but also make the government no money.
It's just the injustice of the laws and how the law is applied that bothers me really.
I think a massive problem is parents smoking in homes in front of their children (although it never did you and me any harm- allegedly haha) but they will do nothing about that, because they can't, without banning it.

* (asterisk) said...

Catch-22, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I am very happy the smoking ban has came in. I don't smoke and I don't think it's fair that just because the smokers choose to harm their health we should be forced to too. If they don't like standing outside in the cold give up the fags, its simple.