Thursday 11 November 2010

Another typical smoking ban

Welcome back. After three weeks in India and two weeks in techno limbo, do I even have any readers left, I wonder?

A fortnight without internet access and a television signal is not the liberating experience the tree-huggers and back-to-the-landers suggest it is. In fact it sucks. And the first thing I see when I get a television picture back is news footage of a group of protestors holding a placard that read "No Fee's (sic)". Call me an old stick in the mud if you wish, but I can't sympathise with University students who put an apostrophe in a non-possessive plural. It does, however, reminds us what is at the root of the Higher Education's funding problem—too many people going to University. And when I say 'people', I mean 'illiterate cretins'.

Anyway, I also see that another European country is, ahem, going smokefree...

Serbia introduces tough smoking ban

Bearing in mind that Serbia is well outside of the Anglosphere, how 'tough' do you think this ban really is?

The law bans smoking in state institutions and buildings, schools, social care institutions, buildings used for cultural and sports activities, and media buildings.

Schools, hospitals and government buildings. OK. But what about the places where people actually want to smoke?

Smaller bars and cafes can decide to be smoke-free or not, while bigger ones, as well as restaurants have to provide a non-smoking space that would occupy more than a half of the premises and be properly ventilated.

And businesses?

Companies are allowed to provide a smoking area, but also to introduce anti-tobacco measures in all other spaces.

So, to summarise, large bars and restaurants have to provide a non-smoking area, and small bars can do what they like. Meanwhile businesses are "allowed" to ban smoking wherever they like, as if they couldn't do that already. Sounds like a workable and reasonable compromise to accommodate everybody except the "loud-mouthed anti-smoking zealots, the wackos and the grab-bag full of nuts" (© Dave Goerlitz), thereby making Serbia typical of the majority of countries in Europe, and the vast majority of countries worldwide (see numerous previous posts, for example this one). Can we have a "tough" smoking ban too, please? Like Holland?

When I was in Budapest last year, I was interviewed by a woman who expressed surprise that while countries like Hungary were happily shaking off the yoke of Communism and embracing freedom, people in the West seem to be moving in the opposite direction, smoking bans being an obvious example. I didn't really have an answer for that. Nor can I explain why smoking bans are so much more popular on the left than the right (see this recent article in the uber-socialist Herald Tribune).

Meanwhile, a friend e-mails me from Israel:

It appears that there is a smoking ban in restaurants and pubs, although I went into one place, a kind of speak-easy underground joint hidden behind a normal wine shop—definitely not 'adequately ventilated'—everyone smoking away happy as Larry under big "no smoking" signs on the wall.

I was confused. I asked the barmaid for a beer—which came with a free whisky chaser!—then, being a polite Englishman, enquired after an ashtray. She said to just use the floor. Apparently it turns out the fine is on the individual not the establishment so some places choose to allow smoking if the police come knocking everyone chucks their fags on the floor—making it hard to prove the crime on anyone person.


Dick Puddlecote said...

The Herald Tribune didn't like my comment of 24 hours ago as it's not been published. Don't know why - all I said was that Helena Shovelton has misrepresented a study and proved so with a quote and a link to the wording.

Happy with lies, then, obviously.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back Chris. Good article by John Kay at Who has been talking to?

Christopher Snowdon said...

Thanks Anon, that's my next post sorted!

DaveA said...

Welcome back to civilisation. My guess is that the EU have leaned on Serbia like Turkey and said if you do not have a ban then we can't admit you. That is why Spain will have a ban in 2011 as when they were holding the EU presidency they had to show they had done something.

Anyway Bavaria's ban is coming under pressure for a number of reasons which I will post later. Not least bars' turnover 3 months into the ban is down 12%.

ftumch said...

Welcome back Mr Snowdon... regularly drop by... never mind no posts lately, alway enjoy links to the side there... anyway:

"When I was in Budapest last year... Nor can I explain why smoking bans are so much more popular on the left than the right"

I had a similar (online) conversation a year or two back with a young woman from Romania who expressed the same bafflement at Western politics. She barely remembered the fall of Ceausescu, but her parents kept her informed of what life had been like, and she went on to study politics and economics. She was amazed by the political language coming from us, both here in EU and USA. I suggested that it's essentially a problem of idealism: we have idealists who dream of a fair and equitable utopia. (As one quote I saw in the Graundiad said, with reference to the Soviet Union, "Next time, we'll get it right") I added that we may need to undergo a generation or two of do-gooding tyrannical therapy before we rise and shake off the shackles... I then felt rather depressed. But I stick by this, as CS Lewis said:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences."

It's all for our own good, and the good of the children.

ftumch said...

As for the left/right dichotomy... this is confusing. Most people still look at this as a difference between "progressive" politics, and "conservative" politics, but we live in a world mired by leftist (Marxist) propaganda. By this, I mean that the Left have done their utmost to distance themselves from a certain German Leader of the 1930/40s, so that now anyone who expresses pride in the National identity (unless they are "recognised minorities") is a fascist of the worst order, ie Mrs Thatcher, and any other Tory. This is bullshit, and these leftists can't see their own fascism at work. Having seen the student riots... I am disgusted, they are like children in a supermarket throwing a tantrum because they have been refused sweets.

The real left/right is: authoritarianism/libertarianism. Socialism (Marxism, whatever) cannot be anything other than authoritarian. For it to work, we all have to sing to the same song sheet: we are all equal, elitism is a Bad Thing. Never question, always say the Right Things (and always keep one eye over your shoulder).

An example: I studied Lord of the Flies in the 80s. It is a vile book, and shows it's hatred of humankind on it's sleeve. Essentially, without authority, people are little more than animals, they will degenerate so. People are scum, and need controlling For Their Own Good.

ftumch said...

ps, I am w'king class through and through, and was brought up so. Never went to Uni.


"Happy with lies, then, obviously."

Makes me think of "An Inconvenient Truth"

Christopher Snowdon said...

ftmuch said:

"The real left/right is: authoritarianism/libertarianism."

Aye. I'm inclined to view it the same way myself. I've met too many libertarian Marxists and too many authoritarian conservatives to see it any other way.

timbone said...

Now now Mr Snowdon, you know full well that even if you disappeared for a year, scores of readers would check this blog every day, knowing that as long as the blog was here, you would be back eventually.

Now onto your second paragraph. I genuinly cannot remember, and am too lazy to search, who was it had that brainwave to call every Tech College, College of Further/Higher Education a University, and offer every course Degree Status, even if it was researching the nutritional value of garden peas on black labradors.

ftumch said...

"Aye. I'm inclined to view it the same way myself. I've met too many libertarian Marxists and too many authoritarian conservatives to see it any other way."

Is that a Scots "Aye" or a Yorkshire one? (never mind, am kidding)

The idea of "authoritarian conservatives" I can understand, but even Burke could appreciate that people were individuals and had individual needs or desires. The expression "libertarian Marxist" is an oxymoron.