Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Thank God for the Smoking ban

I know all about the arguments re the 'nanny state' and the libertarian view that people should be allowed to do themselves harm should they so choose, but I am still delighted about the smoking ban. I do appreciate however that I am of the species that smokers hate most: a former smoker. We tend to be even more censorious and sanctimonious than those who have never smoked; smokers start to hiss if they discover we read The Guardian as well.

But what a joy it was to call into my local (pictured) last night to join my two fellow members of our quiz team, The Mount Rd Gay Boys(don't ask) and breathe in air that was neither offensive to the nose or offering a carcinogenic threat. We prepared ourselves for victory(we always do), in the expectation that the pollutant free atmosphere would enable our natural superiority to express itself. In the event our very ordinary 16 out of 20 placed us about 5th- and that out of a turnout possibly reduced by the second night of the ban.

When the idea of the Irish ban was mooted I dismissed its practicability: how would nouty, sometimes punchy Irish drinkers accept such a ban? But they did and for the most part, meekly too. The same thing happened in the North of that country, then in Scotland, Wales and now England. According to today's Guardian:

The government wants the smoking rate to fall to 21% by 2010, from 24% now. Come October, it will raise tobacco's age of consent (the legal age for buying the stuff) from 16 to 18. And Sir Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer, has made no secret of the fact that he would like this ban to extend further, into people's homes.

I remember laughing at a Garrison Keiller story in which the CIA surrounded the only remaining group of smokers in the US: 'Come on out, we know you're in there'. Maybe Sir Liam read it too and rather than laughing thought it would make a good policy suggestion. Personally, I'd have accepted pubs having the right to nominate a 'smokers' room but MPs voted for the total ban and that suits me and fellow former smokers-killjoys or not- just fine.

I don't think it's God we should be thanking Skip - but the government.
I'm sure you're right but it doesn't make such a snappy title for my post; 'Thank the Government...' sounds more than a bit odd n'est ce pas?
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