November 16, 2004
UK catching up on the smoking ban front

During a recent visit to Oslo, we were looking for a restaurant/pub to meet for the evening. Not knowing Oslo very well, I suggested "anywhere, as long as it's not too smoke-filled". General laughter ensued. I had forgotten that Norway completely banned smoking in public places June 1st. It was so great eating & drinking out, without a hint of smoke in the air!

Today it looks like UK might finally catch up on this trend: The British Government has released a white paper on benefits of implementing a smoking ban in public places to combat the risks of tobacco smoking.

BBC has more information (and a link to the white paper (Executive summary, PDF)):

The White Paper on Public Health plans to make most enclosed public areas, including offices and factories, smoke-free.

Only private clubs, where members voted to allow smoking, and pubs which do not serve prepared food would be exempt.

The plans mean that up to 90% of bars could be smoke-free within a few years.

The proposals go further than had been expected.

But some opponents of smoking are disappointed that they stop short of an outright ban, while pro-smokers have attacked "an attempt to demonise smokers".

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They did this in NYC last year. When it was first proposed, everyone said "this isn't California" (where smoking had first been banned in all restaurants and bars). The Californians had said "business will plummet". I don't think it did. I think it even spread to Louisville, Kentucky (tobacco-growing country). Now in NYC everyone smokes outside, although reactions from out-of-towners are often funny. Apparently, in some places, the only people standing outside restaurants and bars are prostitutes :).

Personally, I appreciate not having my hair and clothes reek after a night out. It's about time the rest of the world catches up. When working in Germany, the smoking in the office (esp in the winter with the windows closed) really irked me as I sometimes have respiratory problems. As a child, I remember trans-atlantic flights where all the smokers would get non-smoking seats, forcing non-smokers into the smoking section. Then during the flight the smokers would stand in the aisles and puff away. It really bothers me that smokers accuse non-smokers of demonizing them - cigarette smoke is a proven carcinogen, excuse me if I prefer to live a little longer and not be subjected to the harmful by-product of someone else's addiction. I'm not one to trample on others' individual rights tho. If there were a separate "smokers' room", I think that would be an acceptable accomodation so that people don't have to freeze to get their nicotine fix.

Posted by: valerief on November 16, 2004 05:59 PM

Val - I'm completely with you on this one! Fingers crossed it won't be blocked somewhere in red tape along the way to become a law... Thanks for commenting.

Posted by: Anders on November 16, 2004 06:03 PM

The problem with "smoke sections" is that the people that work in the establishments have to frequent them to serve and clean up. And thats the reason for the outright ban here in Norway. Its better for everyone. Smokers can smoke outside.

PS: I have also had to endure a lot of smoking in my life, even though I have always lived with a respiratory problems all my life (asthma).

Posted by: Jarle on November 16, 2004 11:50 PM

There actually was a proposal in New York City to allow for smoking rooms, provided that no workers would serve them in the rooms. There are some loopholes in the NYC law - if owners are the only employees or if tobacco accounts for a certain percentage of profit. Hookah bars, for example, are legal. More loopholes were left, such as the possibility of having a smoking room or air filtering systems, but the New York State ban closed some of them.

I work in Virginia now (where no ban exists), and I often catch myself thinking, "Those guys are smoking - where are the cops to write a summons?"

Posted by: valerief on November 17, 2004 05:51 AM

Bar takings are down significantly in NYC - not reason enough to oppose a ban in itself, but interesting nonetheless. Restaurant takings are up.

Jarle - surely people don't *have to* work in smoking establishments?

Posted by: john b on November 17, 2004 05:50 PM

John, you would be surprised at how few people working those establishments think that things were better or the same before the ban. Working in a non smoking environment is better for non-smokers and for smokers. And that is exactly what the people that work in those environments say now after the ban.

Not to mention the fact that its proven to be hazardous to work among smoke and inhale second hand smoke.

Posted by: Jarle on November 17, 2004 10:35 PM

There is no smoking ban in Louisville, thank God. You may be thinking about the prudes in Lexington.

Posted by: Charles Springer on July 23, 2005 05:42 AM

Very interesting, thanks! :)-lorazepam

Posted by: lorazepam on January 22, 2006 11:32 AM
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