Wednesday, March 01, 2006

How to Divide Your Friends and Irritate People

On the day that the State of Victoria bans smoking in "enclosed workplaces", which includes bus, tram & train shelters [though bizarrely, you can move a few feet to a uncovered part of the platform and be exempt], I thought I'd share with a snippet from the Guardian which tickled me this morning. It's an article in which poor old British American Tobacco tell of the injustice [sic] of the impending smoking ban in UK pubs and clubs:

" will not invest in China after an announcement that no new cigarette factories, including joint ventures, would be allowed"

Well, it made me laugh.

It's not yet part of the law in Victoria, funnily enough, although restaurants and shopping centres have been smoke-free since 2001.

And I can't tell you how refreshing it was to spend time in Ireland and be able to sit down in a pub and enjoy a pint, free of fumes. It has been suggested that pubs there are having to close down or build "lean-to"s, due to the huge financial impact of the ban there. Friends in Ireland poo-pooed this idea, but they are non-smokers, which seems to determine which "truth" you want to believe...

[You can click here for an interesting article by George Monbiot for some interesting stuff about some research into the effects of smoking, and its influence on the media]

Anyway, I'm looking forward to a pint in The Crown in Didsbury next time I'm home, long since abandoned as a drinking-hole due to the "swallowed-a-box-of-razorblades" throat the morning after the night before.

No doubt some will see me as upholding old, outmoded ideas about the "nanny state", a viewpoint I can understand. But where does one draw the line about what consitutes "fair" legislation, particularly if you consider the health benefits?

What is perceived as "freedom" for one person may feel like a violation for another, and frankly, that's how it's always been for us non-smokers. Being told "well, you have a choice - you don't have to drink there" has always been seen as somehow fair for us, but now not for smokers - well, it's "undemocratic".

If my non-smoking does impact on your health, please do let me know. I can't promise the same for my drinking, of course. Stand well clear after I've had a few beers... just in case.


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