Saturday, 8 October 2011

The situation in Europe

A bit of news from Spain:

First smokers' club opens

Smokers are free to light up behind the closed doors of a new ‘members only’ club in Alicante.

The club – believed to be the first legally registered smokers’ club in the Valencia region –has attracted more than 200 members, all aged over 18.

Meanwhile in Greece:

Smoking will be once again permitted in Greece given the country’s poor financial situation [but smoking bans are good for business! ASH says so]. The new measure will allow smokers to smoke inside casinos and big nightclubs exceeding 300m2.

According to the decision of Finance and Health Ministers, Mr. Venizelos and Mr. Loverdos, casino and big nightclub owners will be authorized to set up a smoking area, which could cover 50% of the total acreage of their business.

Meanwhile in France:

Gentleman's smoking lounge makes Parisian comeback

While most people are obliged to freeze on the pavement to keep up their cigarette habit, since the ban was introduced three years ago, a growing number of nightspots are offering exclusive and law-abiding shelter for smokers, complete with pianos, leather armchairs, and cigar lockers.

French law still allows indoor smoking spaces provided they have state-of-the-art ventilation and that no staff operate inside.

Consenting adults making grown up decisions for themselves — could this radical idea ever catch on?

This all comes after the Netherlands, Germany, Croatia, Portugal, BelgiumDenmarkMacedonia, Poland, the Czech Republic and several other countries relaxed their smoking bans (or introduced limited bans from the outset). The British media continues put out the message that the whole world is adopting the "comprehensive" smoking ban. The truth is that, along with the Irish, we have a ban that is exceptionally draconian, uncompromising and intolerant.

The lights are coming back on all over Europe. If you haven't signed the petition to review the English smoking ban, do it now.


Ivan D said...

I regularly travel in Europe and have noted indoor ventilated indoor smoking booths at airports in Vienna, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. Frankfurt rather thoughtfully provides them in the baggage reclaim area. This contrasts starkly with the UK where I recently saw a frustrated long haul passenger being told that he would have to clear customs, go outside and come all the way back through security for a smoke. He worked out that he would miss his connection and some poor employee very nearly got a thumping.

I am embarrassed for and ashamed of my country which I had believed to be one of the most tolerant on earth. I don’t smoke and can assure anyone reading that all of the international airports mentioned above are smoke free and achieve this status whilst accommodating those who choose to smoke. My biggest exposure to passive smoke on my travels occurs while entering Heathrow terminal 3 through the outdoor smoking area.

No doubt the hateful, vindictive people who created our own law will solve this problem through even more draconian laws and as the smokers are moved clear of airport property at gun point the BBC health team led by Fergus Walsh will applaud wildly from the sidelines.

Ivan D said...

Having posted my previous comment it did occur to me that maybe I was being a bit harsh on the BBC, so I made a determined effort to find any reference anywhere on their website to relaxation of smoking laws.

There was nothing in the news pages of course. The winter Olympics will take place in hell before the news editors allow any even slightly negative coverage of public health doctrine or the medical establishment.

Nick Conrad did cover the relaxation of the law over on BBC Radio Norfolk .

Not sure how it went but based on the write up Nick does seem to have grasped the gist of the situation.

I also found this Radio 4 Today piece

It features Velles Maessen speaking on behalf of the Dutch bar owners who campaigned to get the law relaxed and Cecilia Farren speaking on behalf of ASH.

One of these people appears to be a decent, honest sane human being.

Anonymous said...

Talking to a mate of mine the other night who currently serves in the British Army, he was telling me how he had travelled all across Europe recently and had no problems smoking in any bar he visited until he came back to Britain, what a totalitariann shit hole we have become.

Vocal EK said...

FDA/WHO to host private tobacco regulators conference November 14-16

Bill Godshall says, "I suspect that e-cigarettes, snus and tobacco harm reduction issues will be discussed at this secret meeting."

Presumably so they can figure out how to get rid of these perceived impediments to their "denormalization" of tobacco campaign.

Joe Jackson said...

This is all good stuff, but the European situation is actually a bit more of a 'mixed bag' than you suggest. Holland, most of Germany, Croatia and Bulgaria have all relaxed their bans. Austria and Portugal have had only mild restrictions all along. However, Belgium and Spain have moved from reasonable partial bans, to total bans. Bavaria has a total ban. If anyone has any current info on Poland I'd like to hear it, as my understanding is that they recently passed a total ban. Likewise any info on Hungary, which I believe is getting a total ban, though I don't think it's happened yet. France does indeed allow smoking rooms, under very strict conditions, but good luck finding one. (On the other hand, a lot of places in France have semi-enclosed 'terasses' with good heating, so it's still not as bad as the UK). Switzerland has a weird (and maddening) patchwork of different laws in different parts, but mostly seems to be moving towards pretty strict bans. The best places in Europe for smokers are Austria and the Czech & Slovak Republics. I was recently in Pilzen, where I went into an Italian restaurant and was astonished to see more people smoking than eating! All in all, like I said, a mixed bag . . . and I'm all for 'accentuating the positive', but we should make sure we get the facts straight, just so we know what we're up against!

nisakiman said...

As I pointed out elsewhere, the Greek "relaxation" is a bit of a poison chalice, as the owners of these clubs of 300 sq m, if they want to have 50% smoking area, will have to pay €200 per sq m levy to do so. Up front. That's €30,000, no small sum, particularly given the economic situation here. I can't see there being many takers.

The smoking ban generally tends to be confined to the urban areas, however, where it is more easily enforced. Outside the cities, you would be forgiven for thinking that there was no ban in existence. The Greeks aren't big on complying with petty laws like that, and are inclined to treat them with the contempt they deserve.

Angry Exile said...

Slight tangent, this. I saw a sign in a office building doorway here in Oz recently that said something like 'No smoking with 5 metres of this doorway'. Might not have been 5 metres (I didn't think to get a photo) but I remember looking at it and thinking that that applies to rather a lot of pavement and even a bit of road that I very much doubted the building's owners had any legal control over. Wonder how they'd enforce it if a bunch of smokers stood 4m away and al lit up.

Anonymous said...

Re. airports. About two years ago, Manchester airport built a smoking ares beyond passport control in one, perhaps two of the three terminals. One of the three terminals dfinitely does not have a smoking area. The one I visited was an outdoor wire cage, with the wires so close together there was no view over the runways. There were very few seats, it was small and not very pleasant. I guess there had been so many problems with people smoking in the tiolets and demanding to go back through passport control, the airport management had no option.

Anonymous said...

O/T from ASH news. Dave back on the fags,

Michael J. McFadden said...

Exile, it's called "Law By Intimidation." It's when you don't REALLY have a law that you want -- so you just PRETEND you do, and most people simply assume you're telling the truth and have the power to enforce it and get them in trouble if they don't comply.

When I was growing up in Brooklyn there was a classic "Little Old Lady" on the block who would yell at us kids for roller skating by her house on Sundays. I have NO idea why she didn't like that, other than the normal kids laughing/yelling/making noise that 6 to 10 year olders always do, but she would tell us it was against the law and that she'd call the police on us and get our parents in trouble!

Amazingly most of us believed her and tried to "hide" our roller skating by not skating near her house!