UK Bans smoking in pubs, bars and restaurant

Wednesday 15th February, 2006 at 9:08 am 1 comment

Once again, personal choice about how they live their lives is removed from the population.

Instead of dealing with the problem – passive smoking – MP’s in the UK took the emotive, uninformed, trendy option.

It would be good to read until the end of this post if you want to take issue with the fact that the current bill is aimed at dealing with passive smoking.

The UK is supposed to be a market driven environment.

Do MP’s actually know what this means? MP’s are supposed to represent the population that voted them in – Business and Voters alike – have they consulted them?

And by consulted – I mean something active – like going out to talk to pub, club and restaurant owners and their customers – rather than something passive where they sit in their office and answer secretary screened calls and letters.

The problems with allowing smoking in public, confined spaces:

  1. Passive smoking affects workers
  2. Passive smoking affects those clients who don’t smoke

What are the options available to deal with this problem?

Possible solutions:

  1. Allow customers to choose where they visit (and spend their money) – allowing business to respond to a requirement of the free market.
  2. Allow businesses to provide a no smoking and smoking zone. Businesses and advertise they have such a zone by government defining what this means. How can government do this? By defining, after consultation with the appropriate scientific community, how many parts per million of tobacco toxins should be present in the air. Such an approach allows businesses to install air purifiers (at a cost to the business) to service their customers who don’t smoke. Again – allowing businesses and consumers to exercise their role in the free market.
  3. Protecting workers in establishments that offer smoking areas – ok – I admit this one is harder to deal with. There are 2 options that I can think of:
    1. The worker chooses to work there knowing of this problem. I think of this as the stable-hand problem. If you work in a stable because you like horses, the down side is that at some point you’re going to be shovelling manure. It’s something, in my mind, that is an unpleasant aspect of the job. While it doesn’t immediately appear to apply to the specific problem – you can easily extend it to other jobs. There is always going to be a boss that applies stress to their workers (risk of heart attack), car mechanics (car fumes – although what do you know – the solutions item 2 fits the bill in dealing with this), etc
    2. The government spends some of the money it gets in taxes from smokers and gives some of it to workers who don’t smoke and have to deal with smokers (I know this one goes against a general policy of the government actually using taxes on a product/service/etc to deal with problems on that product/service)

The above solutions allow the free market to be free. The free market is supposed to be about allowing consumers to have choice isn’t it? Allowing businesses to respond to their customers?

Why is this a big deal?

This is a big deal on many fronts:

  • As a rule MP’s don’t respond to the needs and desires of the constituency that voted them in.
  • The government should continue to promote a free market for businesses and consumers. This should mean the exercise of choice. Rather than, in my opinion, the current trend of a free market fleecing, exploiting or confusing consumers.
  • Government role should not include restricting the freedom of choice for those they are supposed to represent. Freedom means that I can make a choice about how I live my life. If I want to eat lots of red meat (risk of bowl cancer), salt on my food (high blood pressure), to drive a sleek black car (risk of accidents at night), drive a motorcycle (again – high – risk of an accident) – then I should be allowed to.

The current bill is about passive smoking – to quote the bill (from the BBC website):

“The Commons has decided in a free vote to introduce a total ban on smoking in England’s pubs and clubs. MPs decided by a margin of 328 to ban smoking from all pubs. They then voted by 200 to extend this to clubs.”

By defining a criteria that must be met for businesses to advertise a smoking free environment follows similar patterns for Organic food, free range eggs, children’s toys (ala ‘This toy is for children 3 and above’), etc


Entry filed under: other fluff.

A friend Three is the Magic Number…

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Martin  |  Wednesday 15th February, 2006 at 10:31 am

    The thing the law is simply about is the freedom of choice – smokers often argue anybody can leave where they want to smoke, but with that argumentation you could damage cars of others, and saying then, they should have parked their car somewhere else… With that argument you also could say that shooting at others should be legal, because no one need to go on the streets, and snipering others is a personal decision…

    With the ban everybody has the choice – no addicted pub-owner can decide about live and health of his staff, and no smokers can non-smokers force anymore to stay at home.

    Years ago, Airplane-staff was told that they have choosen to work in airplanes, so they have to breathe toxic smoke, journalists was told that smoking in offices is needed to write, and bar-workers was told that they all should quit (!) their jobs if they don’t want to work in unnecessary polluted workplaces.

    But however, MPs and public is right – now everybody has the choice, before the ban comes in only smokers had the choice.

    Killing others is no thing the market can and should decide. Self-regulation has not worked, and smokers continued to be interolant, so now there’s a simple law who protects the personal decision of adults not to smoke, while smokers can smoke at any time they want.


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