I don't smoke. I've never smoked. I tried a cigarette once as a child and found it very unpleasant, and I've never tried it again. Everybody knows about the health risks of smoking, which is why cigarettes can only be sold to adults by law. The government makes a lot of money off smoking from the very heavy VAT on tobacco, so smokers financially support the nation, probably enough to fund their extra use of the healthcare system. However a large number of places have become smoke free, such as all government-owned establishments, including hospitals. This blanket smoking ban is very irrational and destructive in my view. NHS patients who may be stuck in hospitals for weeks or even months cannot smoke at all. Before the blanket ban there were designated smoke rooms where smoking was allowed and people could go there and freely indulge without harming anybody, except maybe themselves. This didn't contaminate the general atmosphere of the hospital at all and nobody outside those areas could be affected. Patients still smoke in NHS hospitals, it's just now every secluded corner is a secret smoking area, including the toilets with waste paper bins which could easily catch fire. Pubs are also now non-smoking and as a result thousands of them have had to close; mostly small local freehouses naturally, see: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/nothing-works-anymore.html. One publican in
Blackpool has dared to defy the ban; the
landlord of The Happy Scot Bar has
bravely fought back against one of the stupidest and most intrusive laws ever
passed. He maintains a smoking bar in his pub, which is only run by smoking
barmen and barmaids and where children are not permitted, see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lancashire/7103315.stm.
I've been to his pub and the walls are plastered with newspaper clippings
covering his court cases.
However the government has really taken this insanity up to a new level now by proposing something that's never been suggested before: the banning of smoking in
and Parliament Square in London,
and I bet that's just the start. To make this clear, we're talking about a public place, in the open air. This is the recommendation of
the London Health Commission and it's backed by the mayor Boris Johnson. The
justification for the ban is of course the health risks of smoking, which we're
already perfectly aware of, see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-29623851.
This represents an increasing trend that I've noticed in the attitude of the
state and its relationship to its citizens. When previously there was a
distinct demarcation between the protection of children and the freedom of
grown adults, now we're all grouped together as one. This effectively means
that the government treats us all as
if we were children; this concept has a conventional definition- the
"nanny state". As I said at the start of this article, I do not
smoke. Why? Because I chose not to. I
feel very different indeed about being told
I cannot. And, even if you too are a non-smoker, so should you.