Josie Appleton reports how bar owners in Spain are refusing to take draconian new restrictions on smoking in public lying down:
In this battle it is crystal clear what is at stake in smoking bans, and what the different sides represent. This is not a conflict between smokers and non-smokers, but between those who are for the bureaucratic regulation of social life and those who are for tolerance and liberty.It’s a pity we couldn’t have seen more determination and collective resistance in this country – although, to be fair, it is more difficult if you are a manager or a tenant than if you were an independent freeholder. Mind you, in Britain, they’d probably send in the SPG on the sighting of such a grave threat to public order as someone smoking in a pub.
The Spanish pro-ban movement is defined not by its dedication to health or even non-smoking (prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero himself is a smoker). Rather, its defining feature is a conformist mentality: an emphasis on following the rules, obeying to a minute degree official proscription for the regulation of social life…
…Bars are becoming political battlegrounds. When police visited the rebel Marbella bar and reported the clients who were smoking, the owner launched a broadside against the officers. Bars are starting to form into political associations, sensing that there is strength in numbers and that if there are enough rebels then the law will be unenforceable. In one area of Madrid, a group of bar owners formed what was, in effect, a rebels’ syndicate, pledging that they will all do ‘as much as possible to ensure that you can smoke in their businesses’.
As a libertarian non-smoker, I would prefer to live in a free society than one in which my personal preference is imposed by diktat. If left to free choice, it is likely that the result would be a mix of smoking and non-smoking establishments, and smoking and non-smoking rooms, in the same way as bars play different music or have different dress codes.Precisely my own position.