Sunday, 7 November 2010

You can turn back

I’ve often heard it claimed that the main reason for introducing the smoking ban in the UK was the protection of workers. This, of course, is completely spurious, as:

  • It is widely documented that the main driver for the ban was an attempt to reduce the prevalence of smoking
  • There is no scientifically credible evidence that environmental tobacco smoke represents a danger to health anyway
  • Even if there was some small danger, the protection of workers could easily have been achieved without a blanket ban – after all, smoking is still permitted in hotel rooms
  • There are many occupations that are still allowed, but where there is a far greater and better proven risk to health, such as farming, mining and quarrying, and deep sea fishing
But even if you taken the claim at face value, it rather falls over if a pub has no employees. So, the Netherlands has decided to lift its smoking ban for small “mom and pop” bars that are solely run by the proprietors. No doubt they will be looking forward to a substantial increase in trade.

The structure of the trade is different in this country, with very few pubs and bars that don’t employ any staff, but I would imagine many of the small evenings-only “box bars” that have opened in former shop premises could qualify – though no doubt the big pubs would whinge that they couldn’t compete on a level playing field. A growth in small, individual, independent bars could be just what the licensed trade needs.

And this news gives the lie to the assertion that there is “no going back” from the British smoking ban. If it can happen in Holland, it can happen here.


  1. The Dutch will still have non smoking bars but now they will have smoking bars too.
    It's simply called choice.
    Dutch Liberalism and common sense prevail, I hope so.

  2. It can happen here

    All that is needed is an avalanche of public opinion, and then things will move very rapidly indeed. Once momentum gains traction then no amount of shouting from the antis will make the slightest bit of difference.

    Always remember…there are two sentiments that drive the stock market – greed and fear. When greed has had its fill then fear suddenly takes over and whatever commentators say nothing can reverse it…until again sentiment changes.

    We need the support of the Dutch to prod our backsides into action, and other European countries too.

  3. "If it can happen in Holland, it can happen here."

    I think a few things can legally happen in Holland and yet they have not yet happened here.

  4. I read a few years ago that bars in New York (I think it was) that employ no one and which are run exclusively by the owner can allow smoking.

  5. The Alchemists of the Anti-Smoking lobby will be shedding tears of anguish into their cauldrons

  6. I am used to the bar staff of my local going outside for a smoke every so often so the claims about staff are quite daft in my view.

  7. Yes, in my experience most bar staff are smokers anyway. In the old days it was a perennial source of grievance amongst antismokers that they would stand "in the hatch" smoking.

    And the proposals for amending the smoking ban in the UK tend to be that smoking should only be permitted in rooms separate from the servery, and in which there is no table service, so any exposure of bar staff to ETS would be minimal.

  8. If you want to alter the smoking ban you need to put the fear of god into the political classes. The fear of electoral defeat. That is only way you'll alter anything. How you do that I'll leave to you.

  9. I've rarely read such a short, yet precise and accurate analysis of the situation. Trevor Kavanagh, of the Sun, would be proud of it. And I do mean that as a compliment. It is is far more difficult to write for the Sun than the Guardian or Times and Kavanagh is the master.

  10. And supported here by Mark Daniels (always a smoking ban agnostic, not a diehard opponent) in The Publican.

  11. There is no scientifically credible evidence that environmental tobacco smoke represents a danger to health anyway - WRONG

  12. Such as? No appeals to authority, please, state names, papers, numbers,methodologies, all the usual boring bits so often neglected. Surprise us with one we don't yet know about.


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