Saturday, 26 March 2016

And it still won’t

Last year, I reported on a poll showing a majority of people in favour of allowing pubs to have separate smoking rooms, under the title It won’t lie down.

And lo, and behold, this year there’s another. A Populus poll in the Scottish Mail on Sunday revealed that 54% of Scottish adults believe that pubs and clubs should be allowed to have separate smoking rooms. Yes, this is on Simon Clark’s blog, but it refers to an article that isn’t online, and he provides a snapshot of it.

As I said before, this issue isn’t going away, despite what the anti-smoking lobby would tell you. It was wrong in 2007, and it is no less wrong in 2016. This is something that the general public seem to recognise, even if the political élite don’t. There is no real public acquiescence, but a huge well of bitterness and resentment.

In 1929, despite various problems, US Prohibition was still regarded as pretty much a done deal. Four years later, the Great Depression had swept it away.

I continue to firmly hold the view that there was no need for any legislation on this issue, as the market was already responding to meet the genuine demand for non-smoking areas. But pretty much any solution short of what we have now would have been preferable to some extent. One that springs to mind is that, given the head-in-the-sand antipathy of many CAMRA members to working-class smoky pubs, smoking could only have been permitted in keg pubs. Problem solved at a stroke. What could possibly go wrong?

More seriously, why not just prohibit smoking in any areas of pubs where under-18s are admitted? That would kill two birds with one stone – protecting children from any exposure to tobacco smoke, and creating more areas of pubs where adults could enjoy a drink out of earshot of their happy laughter.

18 comments:

  1. The only problem with your proposed solution is I hate kids and cigarette smoke in pubs in equal measure :-).

    I'd have no objection to allowing smoking in a suitable area- yet another good aspect of old-style, multi-room pubs where you often had a dedicated smoke room. That way I have the choice to not breathe it, smokers have the choice to smoke. You'd need adequate ventilation for bar staff though, but I'm sure that's achievable.

    Basically, the 2007 law was too blunt, and not thought through.

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    1. Oh, but it was, Stymaster, it was. It was thought through so thoroughly that they left absolutely no stone unturned to ensure that there wasn’t a single, solitary loophole through which any pub could realistically slip. The coup de grace was the legal precedent-setting of (in a roundabout way, by inventing the offence of “failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free space”) making one person (the landlord) responsible for the actions of another (a smoking customer). Something so totally at odds with the principles of our legal system (that “the person who does the crime must be a person who does the time”), but nonetheless which raised not a squeak of protest from anyone within the legal system, despite its worrying implications. How long is it, I wonder, before, in the light of the “success” (in terms of ensuring compliance) of this new approach, will it be before pub landlords (by “failing to prevent the offence of drink-driving”) are made sue-able for damage caused by customers who drive home from their establishment over the limit? That would, I am sure you would agree, result in a significant drop in people driving home having had too many - if punters are reluctant to land their local with a fine of £2,500, then they surely wouldn't want to land them with a damages claim of tens of thousands, would they?

      Even the stated defences within the Act have been disregarded with impunity by the courts. Another dangerous precedent completely ignored by the legal profession – that of refusing to take due note of a specifically-stated defence as such when considering a case.

      There is so much that is worryingly wrong with this section of the Health Act that it’s hard to know where to start. But not being “thought through” isn’t one of them. Lawmakers don’t diverge from the founding principles of any legal system without “thinking things through.” If the truth be told, this Act was almost certainly “thought through” – probably with a kind of “do you think we can get away with this?” attitude – more than any other Act passed in the last 50 years. That’s how important it was to them, and that’s why it’s had such a drastic and negative effect on all of us – not just the obvious victims – smokers – but, although most people don’t yet realise it, in the long term, anyone who is unfortunate enough to fall under the jurisdiction of a legal system which, now, with this precedent having gone unchallenged, could at the stroke of a pen make them responsible for offences committed by someone else.

      “Not thought through?” You’re joking, surely? They knew exactly what they were doing.

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  2. That one wasn't entirely serious either, although it's not that different from Labour's initial plan to allow smoking to continue in pubs that didn't serve food.

    In the real world, I'd agree that something could have been done short of a total ban that preserved choice and kept many more pubs open.

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  3. I know you feel very strongly about this Mudgie (more strongly than most smokers I'd hazard a guess) but my gut feeling is that you'll go to your grave railing against the smoking ban.

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    1. I, and perhaps PC, feel strongly about this because the real motive was to get smokers out of any environment where they could relax in comfort in all weather. The instigators of this ban were not in the slightest bit interested in the health of staff, merely using them as pawns. Nor in that of pub customers, despite many of the non smoking variety assuming it was for their benefit. The passive smoking rubbish used to enable the ban was a (kind of literal) smoke screen. It was simply one more step, indeed a leap, along the road of smoker persecution. Furthermore, it also paved the way for the serious assault on drinkers and foodies. For example, I doubt Oliver would have got very far had the public and government not been softened to passively accept the shite they were spoon fed a decade and more ago. Had serious research cateogorically proven that they were any meaningful measurable levels of increased risk to non-smokers' health, separate well ventilated areas to reduce exposure could have minimised those risks to acceptable levels. Of course, even in the absence of real science, the separate room option was just a pipe dream.

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    2. The instigators of this ban were not in the slightest bit interested in the health of staff, merely using them as pawns.

      You are of course correct in your assessment. And that's why the ban will be very difficult to overturn or amend. The whole reason for the blanket bans was to marginalise and 'denormalise' smokers (which is why vaping is being treated the same way, despite it being a totally different thing - because it 'looks like smoking'), and having spent decades salami-slicing their way to creating an underclass out of smokers and making state-sanctioned discrimination acceptable, you can be sure that Tobacco Control aren't going to give an inch without a fight. Their propaganda machine is well oiled and ready to go. They hate smokers with a passion, and will fight tooth and nail to maintain the persecution.

      Of course, the reality is that we don't even need separate smoking areas. Modern ventilation systems are so efficient that non-smokers need not be inconvenienced at all if they have an aversion to tobacco smoke (although most non-smokers I know are actually not bothered at all unless unless there is absolutely no ventilation, in which case both smokers and non-smokers alike find it tiresome).

      Truth was the first casualty in this war on smokers.

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    3. @John - so long as it's not railing against the alcohol ban, eh?

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    4. more strongly than most smokers I'd hazard a guess

      Probably because an awful lot of smokers have swallowed the Kool Aid (No Sugar Variety of course) of Pseudo Science and actually believe they are guilty/sinful/dirty and need to quit. As a nonsmoker Mudgie is better able to see through the loathing/Self loathing at what the Verbot has done to his beloved pubs.

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  4. You may be right, Mudge. Whilst I agree with what you say about the smoking ban, it has laid waste to thousands of pubs and the one campaign purporting to support pubs supported the measure.

    However, unlike other countries there is no widespread ignoring of it, it is not a major issue for most voters and the only party advocating its repeal will forever be on the cusp of a breakthrough though never quite manage it.

    So what it left but the impotent rage of bloggers?

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    1. The obvious problem with civil disobedience is that the legal liability falls on the licensee, not the individual smoker. So people understandably don't want to put their friendly local landlord out of business.

      If it was purely the liability of the individual smoker, the ban would long have been a complete dead duck due to the impossibility of enforcing it.

      I can see mass smoke-ins becoming common if councils try to ban smoking in parks, public squares and the like.

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    2. There is widespread flouting of the smoking ban in works vehicles, I see it every day. Alas, in pubs the flouting has to wait for lock in time. Pubs tend to be rather stationary and therefore easy to locate unlike a white van on a road somewhere.

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  5. I'm a smoker who doesn't buy into the antismoking propaganda, I've done my homework and I think the possible risks of smoking are greatly exaggerated these days and 'second-hand smoke' . . . well, if you believe that, you'll believe anything. Curmudgeon, you are to be commended as a non-smoker who gets it, i.e. you get that smokers are being royally stitched up. I'm sick and tired of all the gratuitous abuse from people who hate smoking so much, they want it banned even in separate rooms, private clubs, etc - i.e. places they will never go into. "Don't blow smoke in my face" - well, give me somewhere where I can smoke, then! You want a smoke-free space, I want an abuse-free space, what's the problem?

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  6. All pubs should have a smoking room. Most of these non smokers never went to the pub anyway. They can have their own non smoking pubs which as we all know would be empty most of the time. Where i live since the smoking ban the pubs and clubs have died. Many old people who formerly went to the pub, club, or bingo for a drink , a smoke, and a chat with their friends now thanks to the killjoys now spend lonely days in front of the tv.

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  7. "I can see mass smoke-ins becoming common if councils try to ban smoking in parks, public squares and the like." - Mudgie.
    I don't think that will happen. I see bans within a certain distance of windows and entrances of workplaces and again with
    the employer being responsible for enforcement. And beer garden bans , natch.

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    1. I was specifically thinking of locations where the council was the body responsible for "permitting smoking".

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  8. Interestingly I think some of the shisha places in Birmingham and Manchester regularly accept a fine, regarding it as a normal cost of doing business....

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