Thursday, April 17, 2008

Boris Johnson - Up in Smoke?

The likeable Boris Johnson, who is running against 'Red' Ken Livingston for the position of Mayor of London, is getting a lot of flak for his outspoken comments about the UK's recently adopted smoking ban.

Johnson believes that local authorities should have the right to opt-out of Britain's blanket ban on smoking in public places - but many people feel this is merely because his campaign received a much-needed cash injection from the Tobacco Association last year.

Whether or not that's true, Johnson's raised a very valid point. In a free country, isn't there something fundamentally wrong about our Nanny government telling us where and when people can light up?

I'm no fan of smoking. I don't enjoy going to a club or restaurant and coming back reeking of tobacco. However, I am a fan of free choice and I think the smoking ban is the thin edge of a wedge which will quickly see drinking, eating fatty foods and even being a coach potato 'banned' in the interests of 'public wellness.'

It's happening in America right now. Even though the Americans are generally a little more protective of their personal liberties, New York city followed up a blanket ban on smoking with a ban on foods containing trans fat. What's the next target in the health fascist's sights?

I'm personally an advocate of that most important of all human liberties - personal responsibility. We should be allowed to make our own decisions about these things.

Smoking causes cancer. Drinking effects the liver. Eating trans fat clogs the arteries. We all know the risks involved in enjoying our 'vices' and if that's the case, what's to stop us from making an informed decision to continue indulging ourselves?

As for the ban on smoking - I'm entirely behind Boris Johnson. I believe there should be a general smoking ban across the country, but certain pubs and bars should be allowed to appeal to their local authority and 'opt out' of it if they want to.

It would work, even if you're not a smoker. In a street with five pubs and bars, punters would have four smoke-free alternatives should one of the bars decide to allow smoking.

I think it should be done on a case-by-case basis and I'm even open to certain stipulations (like only bars or clubs that don't serve food opting out of the smoking ban.)

You don't have to be a fan of smoking to support this idea. As I mentioned earlier - smoking is just the first (and biggest) target on the Nanny State's list. Next will come drinking, fatty foods and idleness. They won't stop until the entire nation is vacuum sealed, homogenized and sterile.

The battle for our personal freedom begins here.


Suki said...

I have to agree with you that certain pubs and bars should be able to "opt out" of the no-smoking ban.

But I simply cannot agree that this will extend to drinking, eating fatty foods etc.
As someone with respiratory trouble, I break out coughing every time a whiff of cigarette smoke hits my nose. Most non-smokers are irritated to some degree. I can't imagine how bad this would be for an asthmatic. Someone smoking in front of an asthmatic could - theoretically - trigger a fatal asthma attack. And who would blame him?
We NEED to have places like roads, parks etc. smoke-free. People need to be able to choose a smoke-free life, which just isn't happening.

"Smoking zones" in areas that can be easily avoided is quite fine by me, since no one will be forced to go there. By that logic, yes - "opt-out" sounds quite logical.

On the other hand, no one will grow fat or tipsy just by watching someone eat fatty foods or drink alcohol. So banning THAT in public is nonsense.

Suki said...

I just read your article again, and realized I totally agree with you :)

Hah, I really should READ posts before commenting!

Meghan said...

It pisses me off that in Canada they just chanfged the ruling meaning smoking is banned in all public buildings, bars and otherwise and you have to stand 10-15 feet away from any public building when smoking. Now there's people smoking in the middle of the road.

Before it was optional for bars to have rooms with their own ventilation system as smoking rooms that were seperate from the rest of the bar. I think that was just fine.

Anonymous said...

Having survived a winter of the smoking ban shivering outside pubs over here in Britain us smokers should draw the line at non-smokers using up all the outside tables now the weather is getting better.

Patrons should prove that they are smokers before being allowed outside. Cursory checks for yellow teeth or smelly clothes or maybe a short questionnaire. ("Do you cough horribly in the morning Sir / Madam ?", "Which of these is a make of cigarette...?"). Maybe a short physical (running a lap over a certain time) or practical (rolling a cigarette). Those failing to pass should be forcibly moved inside.


Kingfisher241049 said...

Smoking should be banned in public places. I don't see why [eople should have the right to make me inhale second hand smoke against my will. I do not want Lung cancer, which is why I don't smoke. People who want to send themselves to an early grave should smoke in private away from anyone else. I can't wait for the day tobacco joins other dangerous drugs and becomes illegal.