Sunday, 3 January 2010

Smoking in New York

Today's issue of The New York Times contains an article about the widespread flouting of Bloomberg's smoking ban. In short, if you you've got the money to go to a half-decent night-club, you're not going to have a problem smoking.

In November, called it “the worst kept secret in New York nightlife” that “smoking is now allowed in numerous nightspots, specifically just about any and every lounge and club with a doorman and a rope.”

It's not just New York, of course. I mentioned the growing disobedience of French smokers a few days ago. Until it changed hands recently, my local snooker club routinely turned a blind eye to smoking on the premises. Recently, I stayed in a pub (picked at random) when visiting relatives and found that the curtains closed and the ashtrays came out on the dot of 11pm every night. Similar anecdotal evidence is abundant.

So while it's not just a New York phenomenon, that city has had longer than most to get used to the legislation. The theory is that resistance to smoking bans should fade over time. Seven years after the smoking ban came in, it seems that the opposite is happening. That really should be no surprise - it's what's happened throughout history. 

Smoking bans were popular a century ago but were all repealed by the late 1920s, according to Christopher Snowdon, the author of Velvet Glove, Iron Fist: A History of Anti-Smoking. Most bans meet the same fate, Mr. Snowdon said: “They usually end with the same kind of passive resistance you see here.”

“It's just the fact that you have a habit that won’t go away,” he added.

New York has a long and chequered history of anti-smoking measures. Its first smoking ban was back in 1620 when it was still known as New Amsterdam. In the 1900s, it was the home of the Nonsmokers' Protective League. Before the First World War, it banned smoking on public transport and banned women from smoking in public buildings. The 2003 smoking ban was just the latest in a string of failed tobacco control measures. 

Today's New York Times article may lead to a crack-down on these night spots in the short-term. In the long term, history suggests that Bloomberg and his health department enforcers have their work cut out.


Anonymous said...

Why are we such a bunch of wimps these days. I don't smoke, but why haven't you smokers established some "illegal" smoking clubs. I might even visit on risk of smoking-related death (pah!).

BOGU? Of course sir!

We all let this happen...

Anonymous said...

Im off to my local tonight i can guarantee by eleven the curtains will close and the ashtrays will come out,fantastic just like it should be.

Adeimantus said...

A friend of mine recently went to a pub in West Yorkshire where they didn't even wait till 11.00 o'clock...they just carried on as if there was no ban. No idea how they could have got away with that for so long but there you are. My mate and his wife sat down and lit up, and he confesses it was the least enjoyable fag he's ever had: he just couldn't relax, knowing it was against the law. That's how conditioned we become!

Still, bloody good luck to the pub in question. If there turns out to be more like that we can de-condition ourselves back again to those terrific days when a fag and a pint went together the way they should

FXR said...

You might like this one.

The mechanics of healthscare

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

It's a pity that landlords and customers have decided to sneak around and have smoking in the pubs.
If EVERY smoker had totally refused to go to a pub when the ban came in, it would have been overturned immediately.
Smokers shouldn't whinge as they are their own worst enemy.
They chose to patronise the pubs and stand outside like idiots.
People power was what was required and it's too late now. You stupid pathetic smokers.