Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Irish no longer what they were; Italians soon to give in

Italy seems set to introduce a smoking ban in bars and restaurants. More on Italian anti-smoking decadence here. I don't expect any of the rows predicted in the BBCs first article to materialize, unfortunately. The Irish seem to have given in to similar nonsense earlier last year - though there are signs that pubs are slowly emptying. Nonetheless, I had expected better from the Irish. Then again, I recalled this morning that Ireland is the country of Bono and Bob Geldof as well as that of Brendan Behan and Shane McGowan - and it seems the first side is winning, for now.

The most pathetic of it all is how some smokers actually welcome the ban. As one commentator to the first linked article says:

The ban on smoking is a great way to give up the habit. I was smoking for 13 years prior to Ireland introducing their ban. I admit that I was very much against the ban before it was introduced. However, I soon got tired of having to nip outside for a cigarette. Two weeks after the ban, I got patches. Now nine months later I haven't had another cigarette. I feel great, and I don't have to stand out in the rain!

Gee, I'm very happy for you! I would have been even happier if you had been able to quit without other smokers having had to be chased about by the government for it to happen.

A smoking ban in bars and restaurants is set to be introduced in Sweden in the summer. Swedes won't be bothered that much about it, since chewing tobacco is legal here, and nicotinists will probably massively shift to chewing tobacco in the pub. I've tried out the stuff myself, but it doesn't beat a cigarette. Still, I may partially switch to it over the summer.

And of course, I believe non-smokers have a right not to inhale cigarette smoke. They also have a right not to enter a bar or restaurant where people smoke. But both of these, for me, are trumped by the bar or restaurant owner's right to determine what goes on in his bar. If there is such a market for smokeless bars as proponents of bans argue - why do they need the government to enforce one? Why not start a few non-smoking bars?

Oh, and before someone mentions the health risks of passive smoke, read here, and in particular this. Short answer: yes, a lifetime of inhaling second-hand smoke increases your chance of lung cancer or heart disease, but by such a minute amount that it hovers on the edge of statistical significance, if even that.


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