Saturday 12 September 2009

Britain versus the rest of the world

When I was in California a few years ago, I was surprised by how much smoking went on in certain bars. I assumed that the owners were turning a blind eye to the state's famous smoking ban (the first in the world). 

In fact, as Simon Eldon-Edington explains, even fiercely anti-smoking California has allowed various exemptions. His article in The Publican is well worth reading, as it speaks of a rarely heard truth - that the UK and Ireland have smoking bans that are more unforgiving than almost anywhere else on earth. 

Most of us think that the UK smoking legislation is pretty much the same as the rest of the world's. But in reality, it’s not. All US states (even New York), and most of Europe, have some exemptions to permit cigarette smoking inside certain bars, under certain conditions. The UK has zero.

All US states, and most of Europe, permit fully-enclosed outside smoking areas. The UK permits a roof, and two sides. Less than a pig sty.

The current UK smoking legislation therefore gives us the dubious honor of having the most draconian smoking legislation in the world. Should we be proud that we’re still the best in the world at something?

Meanwhile - in related news - Croatia has substantially amended its smoking ban, just a few months after implementing it. The reasons are familiar:

Since the law banning smoking in all public places was introduced in May, managers of cafes and restaurants say their businesses are being ruined.

Earlier this week, the
Netherlands also "repaired" its smoking ban. With almost every other European country allowing significant exemptions and designated smoking rooms, is there any chance of the UK following Holland and Croatia and amending the smoking ban?

A full list of European smoking bans, and there exemptions can be read here.


Anonymous said...

San Francisco government officials from Board of Supervisors working in accordance with Mayor's Office have made public statements in the media within the last six months to the effect that the extremely small number (2 or 3) of privately owned and operated, without employees, bars that were originally exempt from the smoking ban 13 years ago are to be phased out as their exemption status is "a loophole in the law" which they are seeking to close.

These announcements have been made by the same officials in favor of legalizing marijuana smoking while making tobacco smoking illegal, Tom Ammiano one of them.

Do not expect in San Francisco for such exemption to remain much longer.

They have already banned outdoor smoking with a 30-feet perimeter ban around all windows and doorways and in all city and now CA state parks as well as tobacco retailing in drug stores with special permits required if retailing revenues are sourced 20% or higher from "tobacco related paraphenalia".

This one small exemption in the CA smoking ban law from 13 years ago is threatened to be removed soon, at least in San Francisco, which I would imagine other cities to quickly jump on the bandwagon including Los Angeles, another ground zero anti-smoking attack center of the righteous zealots.

It may be so now, but it has definitely been stated in public media the intent is to remove this "loophole" as this original "owner's right" is now being re-labeled, in preparation of it's being legislated out of existence.

Ann W. said...

Chris, Canada's smoking bans are right up there with the UK. In the province of Ontario they didn't stop with just bars and restaurants but went after those least able to fight back, the mentally ill and the elderly in long term care homes.

These homes must raise funds if they want a controlled smoking room which can cost $35,000 to over $100,000.

If the home does provide a CSR, the person is provided with a fireproof apron and no soft furnishings are allowed.

If the home can't or won't put a CSR in, then the elderly and disabled must go 9m (30 feet) from the building without assistance.

We have had people freeze to death and many suffer injuries from falling on ice.

It is heartbreaking to see the elderly and disabled sitting at the curb in some locations because smoking has been completely banned on site.

And they are not finished, now they are going after smoking in the great outdoors...........

Frank Davis said...

It often seems to me that our legislators are incapable of independent thought, and simply slavishly follow the trends in other countries.

But they enact laws of exaggerated severity, simply so as to demonstrate to the rest of the world that Britain is not a mere passive follower bringing up the rear, but instead a pioneering innovator, leading from the front.

It's probably a toss-up whether they'll follow the American trend or the European trend. But once the trend has been established, and it's clear which way the wind is blowing, Britain will rapidly move to place itself in the forefront of whatever direction things seem to be going, and will loudly congratulate itself upon its latest advanced, up-to-the-minute policies, which will of course be the envy of the world.

Anonymous said...

Once these ban lobbyists find gullible lawmakers and get a foot in the door, there's no stopping them. Some communities have banned them from attending local meetings by requiring IDs to prove they actually live in the area.

dumpstermcnuggets said...

"If the home does provide a CSR, the person is provided with a fireproof apron and no soft furnishings are allowed."

This definitely shows how far antis will go, just to make smokers uncomfortable, and stigmatize smoking. They will pass any type of smoking prohibitions that they can, even if it's only an outdoor smoking ban, to further their ridiculous movement of shaming smokers. A great example of the latter is Calabasas(CA) and El Cajon(CA), where smoking is prohibited on virtually all outdoor sidewalks. Highland Park(IL) similarly went too far, by passing a smoking ban for all parks, biking/walking trails, and parking lots. No wonder it's VERY UNLIKELY I ever will travel to California, or any other places in the world on the 'cutting edge' of passing excessive anti-smoking legislation!

BTS said...

Ann, they have banned smoking in old people's homes and care centres for the mentally disabled here in the UK too. That's the main reason I declined the offer of a comfy padded cell..