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Sunday, July 01, 2007


Tomorrows ban

Just a few idle thoughts whilst out on patrol watching smokers huddling wetly under trees and awnings in the intermittent rain on the first day of the UK’s indoor smoking ban. This annoyed me a little because these are my favourite lurking places and my supply of fresh air was reduced. By the way, for those of you who are interested, you can smoke outdoors. So long as you don’t light up in any publicly used enclosed area like a Mall, Shop, Restaurant or Pub, you’re OK.

As an ex-smoker I feel the ban is a bit draconian; yes, I know smoking is really bad for you, and that it increases the risk of heart attacks, cancer, pre term abortion and other assorted nastiness. I don’t do it any more, but there are others that do and take that chance. They’re grown ups and know the risks – so what?

Regrettably I’m sure total prohibition is only a step away. What will this lead to? No more smoking anywhere at all? Speakeasies for smokers? Organised crime being handed yet another way of making millions? This does tend to beg the question; what’s the next candidate for a ban?

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that these issues tend to come in stages; first there is the irate voice in the wilderness, then a minority campaign by the ‘concerned’ followed by several abortive attempts at a ban. Next come some half arsed measures like banning public consumption; next follows total prohibition, followed by liberalisation a few years later because the ban proves unenforceable. Hunting anyone? Fishing shortly to follow?

Alcohol is next in the frame obviously; the media outcry over ‘binge drinking’ is quite ferocious, so picking that as the prime candidate isn’t one for Einstein. My take on it is; what do you expect when you allow extended licensing hours for the sale of Alcohol, especially in a country where people are culturally conditioned to drink large quantities in short sessions. Mind you, in countries where Alcohol is forbidden to all but a few, civil unrest and violent insurrection seem quite common. Where a little civilised tipple is permitted and even encouraged, life is seems more laid back. Unless you’re an aggressive type with an excess of testosterone and a chip on your shoulder, that is.

If we have any form of Prohibition, we should look at how it was tried in the 1920’s and 1930’s in the USA (Amongst other places), and look what happened there. Organised crime built, and continues to build, empires on the illicit sales of alcohol (Amongst other substances).

After alcohol, what will be next on the ban list? Well my money is on coffee. It’s got a number of factors which are almost guaranteed make the ‘ban everything’ brigade target its consumption. For one thing, it’s very American. To some people anything remotely connected with the USA is anathema (Even some Americans feel this way). Their virulent hatred passes irrationality and has more than a hint of being well over the event horizon of complete frothing insanity and accelerating. Their thought processes seem to follow this general route; they hate America, ergo America is evil; Coffee is predominantly an American habit, therefore Coffee is evil. Not because Coffee, or Coffee shops are really that bad, but because of the USA connection. To my mind that’s rather like wanting to shut down all the Chinese takeaways because you don’t like the foreign policy objectives of the Peoples Republic of China. In addition there is already a groundswell of semi organised whining against the Coffee shops that will probably culminate in a number of media outcries (Rather like in the 19th century), followed by an attempt at some sort of ban.

Of course there are the ‘health’ issues. Over consumption of Coffee can be bad for you, it’s a diuretic (Make you want to wee more) and even mildly addictive. Although this can also be said of teas, some of which have a higher tannin and caffeine content than coffee.

Strangely enough, many of these complaining voices appear to have a religious or pseudo religious foundation. A lot of the ‘anti’ arguments (Coffee, alcohol, tobacco) appear to have their complaints couched in phrases cocooned within religious or politico-religious imagery. If they (the complainants) don’t like other people obtaining gratification from a practice, they are often heard to describe it as ‘un-Christian’, ‘anti-Islamic’, ‘anti-Zionist’, or ‘anti-pagan’. Never mind that the derided practice or substance was not around when said religious factions holy books / scripture were originally written. Their misdirected zeal scatters like shrapnel. Furthermore, it is my observation that said complaining voices seem to be guilty of making up their own prejudices as they go along. It does not really seem to be anything to do with religion at all. They’re just anally retentive power freaks who use it for their own twisted agendas.

This seems particularly true as it seems to me that people of a certain mindset are drawn towards the evangelical, of whatever religious persuasion. They can’t attain power any other way, so they use the smokescreen (Heh!) of religion or politics to obtain it. That’s how they obtain their gratification. The ‘comments’ section of any daily newspapers website seems to attract these armchair prohibitionists (Of whatever kidney) like wasps to jam.

To my examination, all this talk of “It’s bad for you” looks more like a power trip than a health thing. Over consumption of anything is very bad for you, but that doesn’t mean we should ban everything certain minority pressure groups don’t like. Lets face it; you can even overload your system with water if you work hard enough at it. Under certain conditions even oxygen can prove fatal. Try banning either of those and see what happens.

Failing that, why don’t the ‘ban everything’ faction try breatharianism? Then see what happens.

Update: There have been a couple of stories in the mainstream press alleging that a ban on smoking outdoors is imminent. Funnily enough, when you click on the links the stories have been replaced by less inflammatory pieces.

Incidentally, to those commenters who have made some very wordy posts re how good the ban is, and how it is not the top of a 'slippery slope'. Please read your history. Prohibition of Alcohol swept in on a wave of middle class approval too. Don't take my word for it. So long as this pack of jokers are in power, the trend will continue.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

On no account should a total smoking ban be allowed ! That is pure fascism, those who are trying to enforce it are pure fascists, and as such are dangerous and should be fought tooth and nail as any dangerous fascist should.

The solution to the smoking/non-smoking problem is to have separate areas. That works perfectly well and there is no valid reason to change it. There is a lot of medical propaganda about smoking that is unproven or false, notably on the subject of passive smoking.

It is pure humbug. The rights of smokers are just as important as those of non-smokers and let no-one say otherwise. Hitler singled out the Jews in the 1930’s just like people are singling out smokers now. It is very very dangerous and these people must not be allowed to get away with this, if only because it is an open door to other things ………alcohol, fatty foods, car exhaust fumes etc etc. Rail Travel is dangerous, air travel, cars on the road.

You could argue that anything is dangerous and that it should be banned. The argument just doesn’t make sense. I have not one iota of doubt in my mind that these would-be banners are wrong and they must be stopped.

The other thing, the most hypocritical thing of all, is that if cigarettes were really as dangerous as they would have us believe, then their sale would be banned, wouldn’t it ? Ah yes, but there is too much money involved. Cannabis, which is not dangerous at all, is banned ? Why? No-one knows, but it does containes less dangerous products than tobacco.

All this goes to prove that the government are a load of hyprocrites and should in no case be listened to. It’s time the public stood up to these people who really take them for a bunch of idiots.

Sunday, July 01, 2007 8:17:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coming from Canada where indoor smoking was banned about 10 years ago, I must say that the slippery slope argument was mooted there as well, needless to say it's a fallacy. An excellent example is drinking. Getting drunk is not going to be banned as it's something you do to yourself, what is and has been banned already is driving drunk. You can choose to kill yourself with your bad habits, it's when you forcibly inflict them upon others that it becomes an issue.

Sunday, July 01, 2007 9:36:00 pm  
Blogger Planet Me said...

I invoke Godwin's Law, and therefore the anti-smoking argument is won by default.

In actual fact, I am a grown adult, I have made the decision not to get cancer wherever possible, and being forced to inhale the esidue of your cancer sticks is detrimental to my health. Therefore, this smoking ban is not only preferable, it should be mandatory. Smoke all you want, but NOT around me. I want to live a long and healthy life, it's up to you if you don't want that, but don't impose that on me in the slightest.

Sunday, July 01, 2007 11:47:00 pm  
Anonymous Anon from Ireland said...

Hear hear, Anon from Canada. I find it fascinating to read posts like this. The posters and bloggers talk of slippery slopes but cannot reference one country or city or state where banning smoking in the workplace had lead to other bans. You merely have to look at Ireland, being quite similar to the UK in terms of pub culture and attitude to see how successful the ban is.
And I would like to point out that the ban is not to protect the smoker, it is to protect other people from passive smoking. As stated above, it's not illegal to drink, just illegal to drink or be drunk under conditions where you are likely to harm others.

Monday, July 02, 2007 9:49:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well 24 hour opening did a lot round here. I live/work in the only town in England where every premises was licensed straight away for 24 hour drinking.

So what happened?
Before 24 hour drinking glazers turned every Saturday/Sunday to board up. Since it can be months before a window is broken. Before we had stabbings fights etc, since, well yes we still get fights (no stabbings) but massively reduced.

Monday, July 02, 2007 12:48:00 pm  
Blogger OldGit said...

I agree with you Bill. Keep saying it as you see it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007 10:42:00 pm  
Blogger JoomlaJabber said...

As an American reader, I can concur with the writer in his statement.

Very CALIFORNIA or New York (read:Manahattan) point of view.

Well done!

Hello from the "evil USA!" - :)

Friday, July 06, 2007 1:10:00 pm  

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Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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