Cigarette buttsAfter months of nasty wrangling, it looks like the UK will finally get a full ban on smoking in all public places. The government has decided that MPs will be give a free vote on any proposals that go further than the previous botched compromise proposals that had advocated allowing some smoking in pubs that do not serve food. The argument at the time was that Blair thought an outright ban on smoking in public places was too much of a restriction on civil liberties.

Now, I don’t recall Blair being much of a defender of civil liberties normally, and I actually think the government has misjudged public opinion on this one. Seems to me there have been few calls of ‘nanny state’ from the newspapers. Further, the UK has a lower percentage of smokers in its population than a lot of European countries, and if Ireland or Norway can manage bans, then surely the UK can? Then came the attitional pressure from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and the tide seemed unstoppable.

Accuse me of cynicism, but there must be a substantial element of realism in this decision to give a free vote. It will keep grumpy MPs content, the population is probably in favour anyway, and it will give Blair some political capital to fight the really tough issues to come this year. Seems such a shame that a major public health issue like this could be decided in such a messed up manner, rather than receiving the major positive publicity it deserves.

3 Comments

  1. Marko quit smoking before Xmas for the third time in the last 6 months…but seems he is managing this time 🙂
    going to the point, I think that the important step in Spain is not related to the bars and restos is in the ban of smoking in working places… I remember visiting my father at his working place and smelling of cigarretes the next 3 days. Is a small step, I think that the ban should include all the public places,but still, litle by litle things are moving down there…

  2. That 100 m2 rule sounds about as mad as the UK’s proposed exception for pubs not selling food… Mad.

    One exception that seems to work is the Swedish one. Large buildings (such as airports) are allowed to install special smoking cabins with extra powerful fans in the roof. These seem to work well, and prevent any smoke moving outside the cabin.

    Anyway, Marko: how are your efforts to give up smoking anyway!?!

  3. I fully agree on this one. Even Italy has managed to get a decent track on respecting the adopted law banning smoking from public places and bars/restos. You can surely see more people standing outside and enjoying their smoke, but the air in bars is perfect.

    On a different note, Spain also introduced a similar law on the 1st of January, but failed on a detail. The law allows owners of smaller bars (under 100m2, which is most of them) to decide whether to allow smoking or not. Well, I think I read that 90% of them decided to allow smoking. And the result is that you barely notice the difference after the 1st of January.

    M:)

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