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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 06:52 GMT
Fighting for the choice to smoke
The ban on smoking in enclosed public places comes into effect on the morning of Sunday 26 March.

In a series of articles from interested parties supporting and opposed to the ban, Simon Clark, director of the Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (Forest), raises concerns over its impact.

Mr Clark believes the law will have repercussions for business and that it treats adults like children.


Forest opposed legislation to ban smoking in all indoor public places and although we have lost this particular battle we will continue to fight the ban and fight for choice.

The Smoking Room
Smoking rooms will also become a thing of the past

Tobacco is a legal product and as long as smokers do not seriously inconvenience non-smokers it is quite wrong for politicians and anti-smoking lobbyists to target them in such a brutal fashion.

For example, what on earth is wrong with companies providing a designated smoking room for employees?

Or a private members' club choosing to allow people to smoke on their premises?

Time will tell what impact the ban will have in Scotland, but Ireland is probably a good guide.

The vast majority of people are law-abiding so don't expect mass disobedience.

There will, however, be considerable grumbling about a law that treats adults like children, denies freedom of choice to millions, and has to be enforced by tobacco control officers who actively encourage members of the public to grass on their fellow citizens.

Simon Clark
Like many anti-smoking initiatives, the ban could actually be counter-productive

Since campaigners will almost certainly demand further action against smokers - bans on smoking in parks, cars and beaches, for example - such grumbling won't go away.

It will intensify as people realise the extent to which politicians are dictating our daily lives.

Pubs and restaurants that can provide a comfortable, well-heated outdoor area for smokers and their friends will probably survive, and some may thrive. Others won't be so lucky.

The Vintners Federation of Ireland estimate that many pubs lost 15-25% of their business and several hundred had to close.

The effect on some rural communities could be enormous.

Common sense

Like many anti-smoking initiatives, the ban could actually be counter-productive.

According to a recent, fascinating report by Jerome Adda and Francesca Cornaglia of University College London and the Institute of Fiscal Studies: "Smoking bans have on average no effects on non-smokers.

"Bans in recreational public places can ... perversely increase their exposure by displacing smokers to private places where they contaminate non-smokers, and in particular young children."

Adda and Cornaglia also found that "smoking bans increase the exposure of poorer individuals, while it decreases the exposure of richer individuals, leading to wider health disparities".

Reading that I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Common sense tells you that while a smoking ban may force (or encourage) some people to quit, the overwhelming majority of smokers will continue to light up.

Unable to smoke in a well-ventilated bar or restaurant (or a separate, designated smoking room), they will light up outside buildings, in the street and, very likely, at home.

Far from giving up, many smokers will reach for their fags in defiance.

It's called human nature. Welcome to the real world.



SEE ALSO:
A 'huge step' to healthier future
15 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Scotland grasps smoking thistle
08 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Smoking ban debate in Scotland
20 Mar 06 |  Scotland


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