Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Nosmo King - by order

50085_2 Around £100 million has been spent renovating outdoor areas for smokers ... sales of patio heaters have doubled to 3.2 million (prompting complaints from environmentalists) ... but following the British government's ban on smoking in pubs, smokers are staying home in large numbers instead of patronising their local -- and non-smokers have been staying home with them.

As the Express reports, and despite predictions to the contrary from anti-smoking zealots before the ban was imposed, British pubs "are facing an uphill struggle to attract customers." It's been the same in every benighted part of the world where the zealots have trampled on the property rights of pub and bar owners.

“Trading conditions are incredibly tough. We’re seeing hundreds of pub closures and smoking is definitely a factor,” says a spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association.
“Current closures will certainly continue for the foreseeable future. At the moment 27 pubs are closing every week” ...
Pubs are not the only businesses suffering – there are more than 600 bingo clubs countrywide and most say customers are disappearing in the wake of the ban.

"I hate the ban," says smoking rebel Bill King. "It has turned the country into a dictatorship... Why not have smoking and non-smoking pubs? And as for the nonsense about smokers being a drain on the NHS, well the tax on a pack of 20 comes to about £4.20 so I think it’s the smokers who keep the NHS going.”

I'd be interested to see some local figures, if anyone has been able to collate them?

UPDATE: Lindsay Mitchell has graciously provided the local figures here, and the words "cash' and "cow" spring immediately to mind. Anti-smoking zealots please take note.

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18 Comments:

Blogger KG said...

"And as for the nonsense about smokers being a drain on the NHS, well the tax on a pack of 20 comes to about £4.20 so I think it’s the smokers who keep the NHS going.”

I'm so tired of the mealy-mouthed intrusive nannying bastards pushing the line that smokers are a drain on the public health system.
In the first place, the public health system is stuffed and ought to be replaced by private insurance and tax breaks for those who choose to go that way.
Secondly, I've never seen figures which indicate that smokers are a cost to the health system over and above lazy people, heavy drinkers,obese people and those who live on junk food.
The anti-smoking crowd are on a quasi-religious crusade and won't let either facts or liberty get in the way. It's time they were called on it.

7/23/2008 11:59:00 am  
Blogger Lindsay said...

Just for you,

http://lindsaymitchell.blogspot.com/2008/07/smokers-are-cash-cow-2.html

7/23/2008 02:06:00 pm  
Blogger Stevew said...

Well, I'm pretty libertarian in most things, but when it comes to smoking the only solution seems to be the jackboot of the state.
One of the functions of the state is to protect citizens from each other and smokers are amongst the most selfish and inconsiderate bastards on the planet. They blew their foul smelling exhalations at me wherever I went, and still do to a large extent - in offices, at bus stops, inside and outside restaurants and pubs, in the street, even on the tops of mountains. I'm with Nanny on this one.

7/23/2008 02:35:00 pm  
Blogger KG said...

"I'm with Nanny on this one.'
Well of course, you would be--the "I'm pretty libertarian, but..line is so damn convenient, isn't it? It allows people to pose as tolerant, except for those things they are intolerant about.
Which offices, pubs and restaurants are smoky these days? And "even on the tops of mountains"??
geddoffit!
And how about diesel fumes? a known, potent carcinogen? Do you object to buses, trucks and cars blowing that crap out?
No, of course not--because they're essential. Far, far easier to pick a convenient target and bleat and whine about that instead.
If you're so damn libertarian, then ask yourself why the government doesn't ban tobacco--and if it did, then how would such a ban fit in with your so-called "pretty libertarian" views?

7/23/2008 02:46:00 pm  
Blogger Fish said...

My mate of mine is currently trying to quit smoking and she said she wished the government would ban the sale of smokes because they are too readily available to her and because it is an addiction it is very hard for her not to buy them.

7/23/2008 03:39:00 pm  
Blogger Stevew said...

kg,
1. I never claimed to be a pure-bred libertarian, just to be "pretty libertarian". Life is not all black and white, either/or etc.

2. I don't think it's at all inconsistent with libertarianism to expect the state to protect me from the foul smelling and toxic by-products of other people's recreational activities

3. If you read my post more carefully you will see my use of the past tense (and I have been driven from the summit of a Welsh mountain on a glorious sunny day by the arrival of a pack of smoking addicts who didn't even ask if I minded them all lighting up). The only reason why offices pubs and restaurants are less smoky these days is because of anti-smoking legislation.

4. I don't find petrol and diesel fumes, in the concentrations that I normally encounter them, nearly as offensive as cigarette smoke.

5. As you correctly state, petrol and diesel engines are essential, until somebody comes up with a practical and economic alternative. Cigarette smoking is not essential.

6. I can see no reason for the government to ban tobacco, nor even to tax it. I have no objection to people smoking tobacco, as long as they don't inflict their waste fumes on me.

7. I'm not looking for any targets to bleat or whine about. I'm merely stating my support for some form of public smoking ban, and my reasons for doing so.

7/23/2008 04:26:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

Well, gee, Fish, my mum's trying to lose weight so does that mean Cadbury's s/be banned to make it bit easier? Jeez.

Addiction is a bitch - and I do know a little about it - but people *have* been known to successfully deal with it. She's hardly in a category of one.

And Steve: if you're "with Nanny" you aren't libertarian. I detest smoking, too. I also remember being the odd man out in many social situations, with nearly everybody else smoking. Smokers were notoriously inconsiderate, once upon a time.

Most aren't anymore. Hell, there are few places left they *can* legally indulge. Did it occur to you that it's your Nanny's legislation that has driven them outside office blocks and shops, etc, to blow "their foul smelling exhalations?".

UK spokesman Bill King is dead right in pointing out the solution: having establishments allow or disallow smoking. It is, after all, a clear-cut property rights issue.

7/23/2008 04:29:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

Replies crossed. Life's not black & white? Ah, but state coercion is.

If you're prepared to allow the state to impose one law because you approve of its content, then don't grizzle when it imposes another with which you disagree.

Can't have it both ways.

7/23/2008 04:34:00 pm  
Blogger Stevew said...

Sorry Sus, but, although I never claimed to be a full-on libertarian (and of course you can have degrees of support for/belief in something), I don't see any inconsistency in my thinking with pure libertarianism.
I have no problem with people smoking as long as I am not forced to suffer it. Is not one of the acceptable functions of the state to protect its citizens from the actions of others? A lifetime's experience provides me with ample evidence that most smokers cannot be relied on to consume their cigarettes in a considerate manner.
When I worked in an office building, I was pretty damn pleased when the state forced the smokers out on to the street - but why can't they wait until they get home? Why should passers-by have to run their stinking gauntlet?
Having said that, I don't see why pubs and restaurants shouldn't be allowed to operate as smoking establishments if that is the clientele they want to attract. However,I think a full smoking ban was necessary for a while to correct the historical perception that you can't run a pub without allowing smoking - not a libertarian approach maybe, but I think it has worked.

I'm not really with Nanny, even if she is wearing shiny jackboots - that was just a bit of humour

PS - I have no objection whatsoever to standing in a queue next to a chocolate eater. None have so far inflicted their waste products on me!

7/23/2008 04:53:00 pm  
Blogger Stevew said...

Sus, you said:

"If you're prepared to allow the state to impose one law because you approve of its content, then don't grizzle when it imposes another with which you disagree.

Can't have it both ways."

Is your position that there should be absolutely no state and no laws, or that, if we allow the state passes a single law, then we should allow it to pass as many other laws as it fancies, without complaint?

7/23/2008 05:04:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

Hi Steve .. thanks for responses. To start with the last - because it naturally guides my philosophy:

There is a clear difference between libertarianism and anarchy. The idea of there being "no state" etc, as per your last paragraph, is anarchic and screams the 'wild west' where there were no laws, or they were ad hoc at best. A state of anarchy offers no protection for property & individual rights. Far from it.

I describe 'Libertarianism' in six words: personal freedom, person responsibility, limited govt.

So often the answer to recurring problems lies in upholding property rights. Nanny disallowed offices/workplaces the right to offer smoking rooms for those so inclined; instead she threw them out on the publicly-owned footpaths.

If those footpaths were privately-owned, the owners could write their own rules. As it is, they're administered (poorly) by councils, hence the discarded butts. (I hate them, too).

Look, the short answer is about treating adults like adults & allowing them to come to their own solutions. When you leave people alone, they invariably work things out to suit the parties involved. As a non-smoker I'm automatically going to patronise/work in a no-smoking bar, leaving those who indulge to patronise the alternatives, with nobody telling anybody else what to do.

As the old saying goes: "if something's a good idea, you won't have to be forced to do it".

Cheers.

7/23/2008 05:28:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

Correction: s/be "personal responsibility". (Damn insert key!)

7/23/2008 05:31:00 pm  
Blogger Stevew said...

Sus, I think we are converging here. I didn't see any problem with employers providing a smoking room in their offices (as long as it wasn't also the room with the coffee machine that everybody else had to use). If I worked in certain types of job I might have a problem with the smokers doing an hour less work a day when all of their smoke breaks are added up, but that would be a matter between my employer and I.
I agree with your general principle, but smokers never did reach any accommodation with the rest of us - they smoked whenever and wherever they felt like it, whether or not we objected. It took legislation to break this mindset and, quite honestly I think it worked pretty well. Perhaps now some of the more draconian and badly thought out out aspects of the ban might be relaxed.
As for pavements though, I think the ban should be extended to these - if I want to walk down the street I have no alternative but to use them.
Maybe the council should contract out pavement provision to Richard Branson - he would soon ban smoking from Virgin Pavements!

7/23/2008 05:49:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

Yep, property rights again, Steve - and to give credit, no sane employer would put the only coffee machine in the 'smoking' room. It's in employers' best interests to keep employees happy - and that would most certainly anger non-smokers. And rightly so.

The only issue I take with your last post is this:

".. smokers never did reach any accommodation with the rest of us - they smoked whenever and wherever they felt like it, whether or not we objected. It took legislation to break this mindset .."

I disagree. 25 years ago most of my friends smoked. Today, very few do. (Interestingly, many smokers are those who can least afford it, ie, those on low incomes).

25 years ago, smokers would routinely light up in cars carrying non-smoking passengers. Today, very few do.

And few people smoke today in comparison with 50 years ago. As an aside, have you been watching 'Mad Men' on Prime? Set on Madison Ave 50 odd yrs ago. EVERYBODY smoked EVERYWHERE in comparison with the present. Kitchens, offices - even the doctor's surgery! Urghh!

My point, again, is that people will naturally work things out. I have no doubt that some restaurants & cafes, etc, would have become smoke-free of their own volition. And that would have been a sales point for them. You and I would be starters.

Just as some picture theatres schedule special sessions for babies.

It's all about meeting the market as it evolves. Govt intervention is not necessary. It only gets in the way, while increasing expensive bureaucracy.

Remember: just because you or I dislike something, doesn't mean it should be banned, and approval of something doesn't mean it should be made compulsive.

7/24/2008 09:54:00 am  
Anonymous Sus said...

Compulsive? Try compulsory.

7/24/2008 09:56:00 am  
Blogger Stevew said...

Hi Sus,
Making the smoking room and the staff coffee lounge the same place is unfortunately a real life example, from one of my previous employers!
I don't like smoking but I don't want to ban it outright. All I ask is to be able to go about my daily business (waiting for a train, standing in a taxi queue, walking down the street etc.) without being effectively forced into smoking myself.
Perhaps our life experiences differ widely - until quite recently I lived in England and commuted into London for 8 years. Though both of my London employers were smoke-free, I inhaled a heck of a lot of smoke getting to and from work. Prior to that there was no avoiding smoke even at work.

7/24/2008 04:02:00 pm  
Anonymous Sus said...

"Making the smoking room and the staff coffee lounge the same place is unfortunately a real life example, from one of my previous employers!"

Gross. And you're sensibly not there anymore. I wouldn't be either.

"All I ask is to be able to go about my daily business (waiting for a train, standing in a taxi queue, walking down the street etc.) without being effectively forced into smoking myself."

You probably wouldn't if the footpaths weren't privately-owned! :)

"Perhaps our life experiences differ widely - until quite recently I lived in England and commuted into London for 8 years. Though both of my London employers were smoke-free, I inhaled a heck of a lot of smoke getting to and from work. Prior to that there was no avoiding smoke even at work."

Different life experiences? Doubt it. I worked o/seas for 12 yrs doing different things in different places, incl London, so I expect we have stuff in common. Where did you live in England, by the way?

Did you ever proffer the idea of your workplace becoming smoke-free? I used to find that when I asked politely, most people were happy to oblige. As a matter of fact I was living in London when Red Ken L was Chairman of the GLC & banned smoking outright on the tube. (There used to be a couple of cars on each train for smokers; it was not permitted in most cars). Mind you, Ken would have banned his grandmother if there was nothing else to ban.

Stuck in traffic on California freeways in the summer in a car with no AC was never very pleasant either. What I'm saying is you can't legislate for perfection ... the Soviet Union tried its best at that & look at the mess they made!

Nice chatting.

7/24/2008 04:38:00 pm  
Blogger Stevew said...

Sus,
I lived in Milton Keynes (no sniggering) for quite a few years. Whilst smoking was slowly pushed out of the trains, waitjng in the station could still be pretty unpleasant.

Of course smokers are not all the same - some are considerate, and probably driven by their addiction to indulge in the kind of behaviour that would embarrass them in other aspects of their life.

Nevertheless I have worked alongside smokers who wouldn't even tolerate an open window letting in fresh air!

Red Ken tried to ban pigeons from Trafalgar Square. When they wouldn't do as they were told he moved on to trying to ban photographers!

No, you can't legislate for perfection (though a small authoritarian part of me can't help a sneaking admiration for Singapore, banning chewing gum and refusing entry to Cliff Richard)

7/24/2008 04:56:00 pm  

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