Although the protection of workers was often used as a “smokescreen”, the underlying motivation behind smoking bans has always been an attempt to reduce the prevalence of smoking in society through a process of “denormalisation”. However, in many places where bans have been imposed, that doesn’t seem to work, and very often the steady decline in smoking rates that has occurred until the ban has stalled or even reversed.
That has certainly been the case in Ireland – “there was a slight increase in the percentage of smokers since 2002, with 29% admitting to being a smoker in 2007, compared to 27% in 2002” – the Irish ban having come in in 2004. And the latest figures from Scotland show that the same is happening there.
The number of Scots smoking has risen since it was banned in public places – and the vast majority live in our poorest housing estates.Arguably a key reason for this is that the bans in effect force people to identify as smokers, and once they have done that they become more committed to sticking with it. You can’t really be a casual smoker any more.
One of the comments rings all too true:
Billy Dunn, 68, Parkhead, GlasgowIt’s also quite instructive how readily smoking and drinking are linked together:
The retired factory worker has smoked for 60 years.
He said: “Scottish people have always smoked and it’s not going to change.
“I still come out for my pint every other day and I still manage to have a cigarette.
“However, the pubs are a lot quieter now than they were about four or five years because a lot of people aren’t able to stand outside smoking like I can.
A lot of smokers have difficulty coming down out of their homes to go for a drink and the last thing they want to be doing is having to get up every 30 minutes and go outside.
Also, people living in the most deprived areas have very few things to indulge in which are theirs. Smoking is one of them. They might say, ‘I can light up a cigarette or drink a pint – that’s my thing.’They have become all too often joined in a figure of speech like the proverbial horse and carriage. And, while the aficionado of craft beer, or claret, or malt whisky, may jib at the suggestion, if the Righteous choose to tar you with the same brush there’s nothing you can do about it.
Also well worth reading is this article by Dave Atherton (a regular commenter here) on The Commentator in which he argues that “smoking bans in pubs and bars, and now proposed car smoking bans constitute the most sinister assault on private property rights outside of an authoritarian regime.”