Anti smoking

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.


  1. Another good dose of common sense from the good Doctor! Couldn’t agree more with what you’re saying here. Took a buthers at the Liberal Disenter piece you linked to – what a piece of crap! It looks to me that the writer’s either a smoker or has been taken in by the tobacco industry’s “counter propaganda”. I’d be fascinated to see how he’d react if I setup me ghettoblaster in front of his house at 2am and started playing loud music – after all, it’s not “injuring” him, he can always move or put his fingers in his ears… 😉 Yep, his arguments – unlike yours – are just wooly and not sensible.

  2. Can’t see the point of the ban, myself. Is it really going to be enforced properly, given all the work the police and other relevant authorities currently have to do? And down here in England they’re foisting this silly compromise whereby certain categories of pub will be able to allow smoking but only if they don’t serve food but they can serve pre-packaged stuff that they’ve bought in but you’re not allowed to smoke in the bar area anyway but then most of those kinds of pub wouldn’t serve food in any case, etc, etc, etc.

    Mind you, anything that pisses off the tobacco companies is all right by me.

    Oscar (a lifelong non-smoker who won’t actually suffer if the ban is brought in, but who thinks an over-reliance on legislation is silly)

  3. Good news! A just released study shows public smoking may do far less injury to public health than once thought.

    Press Release

    For Immediate Release: December 5 , 2005

    Do Smoking Bans cause a 27 to 40% drop in admissions for myocardial infarction in hospitals?
    December 5, 2005

    Antismokers claim that studies have shown that bans bring about an immediate and drastic decrease in heart attacks among nonsmokers exposed to smoke at work.

    This claim was never true to begin with – the cited studies never separated and analyzed nonsmokers as a separate group – and it has now been pointed out in the pages of the BMJ that even the claim of saving lives among the combined population of smokers and nonsmokers might be worthless.

    While many making that claim may have believed their information to be accurate, it is now obvious that its basis has been thrown strongly into question. As Jacob Sullum noted in a December 1st reaction to the announcement, “An effect this dramatic (i.e. an immediate and pronounced drop of hospital admissions for heart attacks) should have been noticed all over the country…”

    Just a week before the Chicago Aldermen were due to vote on a citywide smoking ban, two independent researchers working together, David W. Kuneman and Michael J. McFadden, unveiled a new study covering a population base roughly 1,000 times as large as the previous town-based studies. The new study indicates strongly that rather than a 30% decrease in heart attacks, statewide smoking bans seem to have literally NO EFFECT AT ALL on heart attack rates. Incredibly the data even indicates that California’s statewide heart attack rate went UP by 6% in the first full year of their total smoking ban!

    The data for the study and the basis of its design have been backed up and expanded by well-known antismoking researcher Michael Siegel who has come out in support of the researchers’ approach as providing “compelling evidence that brings into question the conclusion that smoking bans have an immediate and drastic effect on heart attack incidence.” His observation is echoed by researcher Kuneman who asks, “Ever wonder why you didn’t hear about post ban heart attack declines in New York City? Or in Minneapolis or Los Angeles? Now you know!”

    On December 4th the British Medical Journal entered the fray with the online publication of a Rapid Response by Mr. McFadden outlining the new research and posing sharp criticisms of the earlier studies and of the refusal of the authors of those studies to respond to previous criticisms and questions. McFadden points out that the data in the Kuneman/McFadden study are fully open for public examination and far less selective than the data in the earlier studies and notes with pride that he and his co-researcher have been quick to respond to all queries posted about their methodology on Dr. Siegel’s web blog.

    He also poses the wider ranging question of whether studies commissioned by the “Antismoking Industry” should begin to receive the same cautious reception accorded those commissioned by “Big Tobacco.” The current study, as well as an earlier one by the duo, were unfunded and neither researcher receives grants for their work from either interest group. Kuneman sharply asks the question, “Why the difference between the studies? For one thing we weren’t dependent on antismoking-targeted grants!”

    At this point there appears to be very little, if any, real scientific support for the claim that protecting nonsmokers from normal levels of exposure to secondary smoke prevents any heart attacks. And it is this claim that has always provided the impressive numbers upon which ban advocates have pressed legislators to pass smoking bans.

    Without those numbers proponents of extreme bans are left with little other than the widely discredited EPA figures relating ETS to lung cancer and a few isolated instances of hospitality workers who have come to believe that their own cancers were caused by working in smoking establishments. Samantha Phillipe, editor of the longstanding newsletter, notes that while it’s always a cause for sadness when someone becomes ill that it’s even more sad when they are misguidedly advised to blame family and friends for their illness.

    Without a compelling body of scientific evidence backing them up, smoking bans are an unnecessary and overbearing intrusion of government into the spheres of free choice, private property and free enterprise. And the Kuneman/McFadden study points up just how uncompelling even some of the strongest and most publicised evidence actually is.


    1) Article: A Preliminary Study

    2) Mike Siegel’s blog analysis and follow up comments:

    3) BMJ Response: Helena 1000 Days

    4) Jacob Sullum’s REASON column: Hit and Run

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”
    Mid-Atlantic Regional Director of
    web page: