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.