Blowing Smoke

12 02 2008

Although I do agree that something needs to be done to provide clean air for non-smokers, I disagree vehemently with smoking bans. I’m not sure that forcing the preferences of non-smokers upon smokers is any different to the old days, when smokers would force their preferences onto non-smokers.

Before someone points out non-smokers are the majority, that’s besides the point. The concept of majority rule is what allows things like a blanket ban on homosexuality (as many countries had for a long time) to occur. We left that draconian era behind once we abolished such discriminatory laws against minorities. Instead we moved towards what I like to call “modern democracy”, defined not as majority rule, but as utilitarianism.

Now it seems some would have us go back. Instead of minority and majority groups coming together to find a compromise that benefits the most people possible whilst simultaneously restricting the least people possible, the majority wishes to impose its will on everyone else. Why not at least try to find a way to co-exist side by side?

Modern technology must surely provide us better means to achieve the goal of cleaner air for non-smokers than banning smokers from enjoying their rights? We can keep smokers and non-smokers rights relatively unaffected with some require some clever thinking. Politicians are not willing to do that, they want the easy solution; a ban.

Now, hot on the heels of the extension of the UK smoking ban, from just pubs and restaurants to any enclosed spaces (what next, bans on smoking in open public spaces?), smokers are being criticised for litter outside, in the places where they’re now being forced to go to enjoy a cigarette. I ask you, what are they supposed to do?

As a smoker myself, if I leave a pub to have a cigarette, because I’m not allowed to smoke in the pub anymore, what am I supposed to do with the butt? In the old days I’d put it out in the ashtray provided by the pub or restaurant but now I can’t do that.

What do I then do? If there’s an ashtray outside, great, but often there isn’t. In the absense of an ashtray, I have to put it out on the floor, and once it’s on the floor, I’m not picking it up. I don’t see why I should pick something off a dirty pavement that I’ve been forced to put there in the first place. No, if I’m going to start getting fined for leaving my butt on the floor I’ll just start stubbing it out on the buildings. If the owner doesn’t like it, they should either speak to the council about the litter fines or provide ashtrays.

Not to mention that even if I did put it out on the floor, then picked it up and threw it in a bin, there’s a risk it’s still partially lit and could start a fire. Whose fault would that be then? Are they then going to blame the smoker in that scenario? Clearly. Heaven forbid the smoker do the right thing and leave the cigarette butt on the floor! It’s only the safest place for it. At least until all bins don’t come with an ashtray on top.

Of course there’s then the problem that there’s never enough bins either. Governments don’t provide the resources and then complain that people litter! I often have to keep litter with me for miles until I can find a bin. Often one of the reasons butts are on the floor is that the nearest bin isn’t even in sight. What do you do, pick up the butt and put it in your pocket? Why not just put the lit one there and catch fire? Yay, sounds like fun!

It’s ridiculous to criticise smokers left right and centre. Smokers are being made out to be the number one evil in society, blamed for everything, much in the same way as homosexuals once were. Remember the days when HIV and AIDS were blamed on “the gays”? I’m exaggerating somewhat to make a point but I think the point stands.

The provision for litter just isn’t made, particularly on public transport, where I understand they can’t put dustbins, but they could put clear plastic bags for people to throw rubbish in. Give people the means to throw things away and they will do it.

Fining people is not the answer, just as banning smoking isn’t.


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3 responses

12 02 2008
david

I’ve smoked for most of my life. If second hand smoke is a killer like they say it is, then it follows that primary smoke is lethal.

So, here is the challenge to the Government; “Ban tobacco products altogether, or, ease back a little on the “blanket” smoking ban.

I’m 56, voted Labour every time, but not next time!
My mam’s 77, and ditto.
My dad’s dead but I’m sure he’d be with me on this issue.

12 02 2008
Mr President

I couldn’t agree with you more.

13 02 2008
mark wernimont

And if lawmakers need additional real world data to further highlight the need to eliminate these onerous and arbitrary laws, air quality testing by Johns Hopkins University, the American Cancer Society, a Minnesota Environmental Health Department, and various researchers whose testing and report was also peer reviewed and published in the esteemed British Medical Journal……prove that secondhand smoke is 2.6 – 25,000 times SAFER than occupational (OSHA) workplace regulations:

http://cleanairquality.blogspot.com/2007/11/johns-hopkins-air-quality-testing-of.html

http://cleanairquality.blogspot.com/2007/04/bmj-published-air-quality-test-results.html

http://cleanairquality.blogspot.com/2004/04/american-cancer-society-test-results.html

http://cleanairquality.blogspot.com/2006/02/air-quality-testing-and-secondhand.html

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