Wednesday 29 September 2010

Smoke and a pancake?

This has not been reported by the BBC (as usual), but the Dutch are going to relax their smoking ban. The ban has never been popular, has been widely flouted and has been little enforced. After effective campaigning—for which Wiel Maessen deserves much credit—the country's many small bars have gained an exemption from the ban.

Owners of small pubs in the Netherlands have welcomed the lifting of a smoking ban imposed on the hospitality industry in 2008. The partial scrapping of the measure was announced on Tuesday.

The incoming rightwing government is responding to persistent complaints from one-man businesses who argued that the smoking ban was meant to guarantee staff a smoke-free working environment. Since they had no employees, their small pubs didn't need the smoking ban, the owners claimed.
The ban will remain in force, however, for pubs, restaurants and the like which are run with personnel.

Secretary Wiel Maessen of the 1250 small pubs' umbrella group KHO said "I lit an extra cigarette when I heard the news." He added that despite his satisfaction on behalf of his members, the fight would not be over until the ban was lifted for the entire sector.

All of which means that the Netherlands, like most other European countries, have rejected a total ban to avoid the devastating economic effects seen in the UK and Ireland. Which begs the question, why doesn't the UK's new liberal, regulation-hating, freedom-loving, pro-business government not even consider the possibility of the doing the same?


subrosa said...

'liberal, regulation-hating, freedom-loving, pro-business government'

Oh dearie me, you too were taken in by the propaganda.

Now if we all decided to stop smoking for a month or so that would waken them up. The treasury's income would reduce dramatically.

Chris Oakley said...

Nicely spotted as usual Chris. Have you tipped off the BBC? While following your links I was reminded of the particularly amazing fact that even Sweden, the ultimate nanny state and cradle of overbearing authoritarianism cunningly labelled as social democracy, has less draconian anti-tobacco legislation than the UK.

jredheadgirl said...

"....why doesn't the UK's new liberal, regulation-hating, freedom-loving, pro-business government not even consider the possibility of the doing the same? "

Good question Chris. That's exactly how I feel about Los Angeles...and my hometown Chicago....and well, that other big city NY:(

Anonymous said...

I have recently been going over a database of newspaper articles from the early 1900's, through to the mid-1930's regarding Prohibition.

It seems that Prohibition effectively ended well before the legslation was actually repealled, due largely to the population widely flouting the law.

Initially, almost everyone complied. However, as time went on people more generally began to ignore it and it became impossible for the authorities to enforce.

I suspect that this will be the way of the smoking bans, too. People will increasingly start to ignore the rules and the authorities will gradually stop the enforcement actions, until one day it will become an irrelevancy.

How long that will take, I don't know, however the more countries that reverse course, the sooner it will happen.

DaveA said...

A letter written in 1932 by industrialist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., states:

"When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before."

Anonymous said...

Rather interesting how the most draconian Illiberal bans are now thriving in states that have some sort of Anglo Saxon type political background US, Australia, Canada UK ,NZ,or the Nordic states.
Perhaps that states clearly that these are the nations that are slipping into subtle totalitareanism.
How embarrassing.
Perhaps it's also a clear illustration of the complicit nature between these governments and vested interests,rather than any ideal of personal liberty.
Which seems to be held in disdain.
Much the same way that they treat the electorate.

Anonymous said...

I thought prohibition ended because of the increasing death rate from poisoned alcohol.

National Affairs: Poison
Monday, Jan. 10, 1927

"Then on Jan. 1, the new Government formula for denaturing industrial ethyl alcohol went into effect. It doubles the amount of poison which manufacturers are required to use.* The old argument of whether or not the Government has the right to use poison to enforce the Prohibition law raged.

Wayne B. Wheeler, paid advocate of the Anti-Saloon League, at once found himself the villain of the story. His statements through the week fluctuated between the rabid and the sensible arguments of the Drys. Said he:

"The Government is under no obligation to furnish the people with alcohol that is drinkable when the Constitution prohibits it. The person who drinks this industrial alcohol is a deliberate suicide. . . . To root out a bad habit costs many lives and long years of effort. . . .",9171,881577,00.html


"BY NOW, it was not only liberal Eastern wets like New York Gov. Al Smith who were calling for modification of the Volstead Act. A growing number of Republican leaders were abandoning the dry chorus: Nicholas Murray Butler, the distinguished president of Columbia University, had denounced Prohibition as evil and inhuman; even the saintly John D. Rockefellers, senior and junior, solid Baptist teetotalers both, had withdrawn funding from the Anti-Saloon League fanatics."

"On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the city, reported Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Charles Norris, 11 more merrymakers died, and 55 were committed blind and sick and raving to hospital wards."


Klaus K said...


Alcohol prohibition was a failure

Anonymous said...

Prohibiting snus and ecigs is the current analogy to what Rose describes.

Anonymous said...

This is great news but several questions come to mind:

i) will there be a ban/no ban yo-yo when different Governments are elected?

ii) what will be the response of the EU?

iii) where will it lead? What if a bar is owned by two people, or three, or if all the people who work in it have equal shares? How many of the other bars will go bust? Hopefully none, because seeing a mix of profitable smoking and none smoking bars will further the cause of a relaxation of the ban in other countries.

Chris and Dutch readers, what do you think?


Anonymous said...

Anonymous, personally I think its more akin to FSC.

Some time before 1900's both tobacco and alcohol were considered to be medicines.

What Medical Writers Say
Superintendent of the Department of Medical Temperance
for the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union

Published by the

"If the medical profession is responsible for the wide-spread belief that alcoholics are of service to mankind both as food and medicine, it should not be forgotten that it is to members of the same profession the world is indebted for the correction of these errors."

It would have made good business sense for the new drug companies to fund these temperance movements and be rid of their traditional rivals.

"Old Bill" opened up a new field for himself. He called his bottled petroleum "Nujol" (meaning new oil) and sold it to those who had cancer and those whom he could make fear they would have it."


cornyborny said...

Dear John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (as quoted by DaveA @9.39am)

Well, DUH. A fucking chimp could have told you that all that stuff would happen.

If only there was a chimp on hand today to point the obvious out to the neo-prohibitionists. It'd save us having to endure the whole sorry, pointless episode ALL OVER AGAIN.

Mr Rob said...

I was in Amsterdam a couple of weekends ago. The second bar we went into was OK to smoke in, ashtrays on tables. It had two stories, and numerous employees.

Anonymous said...

I see ASH UK have reported the lifting of the Dutch ban.

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