Last night was when I changed my mind about the upcoming ban on smoking in public places again.
You see, initially I was in favour of the ban for purely selfish reasons, because I don’t smoke you see.
Then I sympathised with the libertarian argument. Nobody forces me to go into a smoky pub. It is a matter of choice for everybody concerned: the customers — smoking and non-smoking; the staff; the pub owners. Just as I was thinking about posting on this subject, Simon at The Liberal Dissenter posted about why he holds this view.
But while I have officially been against the smoking ban for liberal reasons, I simply cannot wait for it to come into force. I’m not overly concerned about the health issues. I guess my exposure to cigarette smoke is minimal enough for me to get away with it.
My problem is with the general unpleasentness of it all. To put it mildly, it is not nice to breathe in smoky air. When I emerge from the pub, the stench from my clothes is no less unpleasent than it would be had I been urinated upon. It gets in my hair aswell, and I have hardly any hair.
AH! But it’s their right to smoke, it’s my right not to go into the pub if I don’t want to, etcetera.
But nobody would stand for it if that creepy guy in the corner was able to urinate all over you. But I mean, it’s his right to urinate if he wants to, and it’s my right not to go into pubs with creepy guys in them if I don’t want to.
Simon claims that 90% of restaurants are already smoke-free without the need for legislation. Which is all very well, but that’s useless for me sitting here in Kirkcaldy. I can’t think of a single pub or restaurant anywhere around here that is smoke-free. And yes, no smoking areas are useless.
But don’t I have a choice to not go to the pub if I don’t want to?
Er, sort of. But I’ve found it too easy to get a reputation as an unsociable party pooper; I can’t really say I don’t want to go to the pub… in case I come out stinking of smoke.
But I reckon most of my contemporaries would sympathise. I can’t think of anybody who has complained to me about the upcoming ban. Out of the people I most regularly go out with, I can count the number of smokers on one finger (you know who you are!). It is fair enough for people to do whatever they want in the privacy of their own home. But out in the open, you should treat your fellow members of the public with respect. Smokers are in a minority and for them to dirty the atmosphere so much is, at the very least, pretty damn rude.
Whether it should be illegal or not is another matter. But I look at it this way: Will I be happier when the new legislation comes in? Yes. Will most people be happier? I’m pretty sure of it.
I can’t wait.