On 1st July 2007, it becomes illegal to smoke in buildings that the public have access to – in workplaces – basically, in every enclosed space in England! For years, pubs, cafes and restaurants have had “smoking” and “non-smoking” areas, workplaces have had smoking rooms for employees who fancied a cigarette with their coffee during breaks… but they’re going to be illegal too! Employers can provide outdoor smoking areas if they want, but these areas must be “not enclosed or substantially enclosed” – ie. a lean-to, open to the elements, so smoking will be as uncomfortable and inconvenient as possible. And work vans! Suppose you’re a delivery driver, whose work day involves you driving round by yourself, never sharing the air you breathe with anyone else – it will be illegal for you to smoke in your van!
Okay, so smoking is bad for your health – and for the health of those who you smoke around. But smoking areas in bars and cafes, and smoking rooms at work, pretty well answered those concerns. If you didn’t want to get cancer from passive smoking, you didn’t go into the smoking areas. What the hell was wrong with that? I’m not a regular drinker, but when I do go out for a pint I like to have a smoke with it. I don’t often eat out, but when I do, I use a nice cafe that has “smoking” and “non-smoking” areas, so when I’ve finished stuffing my face I can enjoy a coffee and a cigarette. All without bothering anyone, as people offended by smoking would be seated nowhere near me. Well, that’s how it used to be… from now on I’ll be eating in cafes very very rarely, I’ll be using pubs only when the weather’s nice enough for me to sit out in the beer garden… and I bet there are plenty of other people who will do likewise.
Yes, smoking is a disgusting habit which may well kill me. But it’s my life. I don’t impose my nicotine habit on other people. But our wonderful liberal democracy, with its celebrated individual freedom of choice, is clamping down on me more viciously than the Stasi! Next, if I do have the misfortune to get lung cancer or some other “smoking-related disease”, the NHS will probably refuse to treat me! I’m so lucky to be living in the Free World…
Meanwhile, record numbers of children are coming down with asthma… not because of passive smoking, but due to emissions from motor vehicles. Yeah yeah, cars is different. The internal combustion engine is essential to society’s progress… except a huge proportion of car journeys are absolutely nonessential. When I was a kid, most children walked to school, or cycled, or got the bus if it was a really long journey. But nowadays, just about every kid is driven to school – even if it’s just a five minute trip. How many lives are going to be cut short by this uncalled-for pollution of our atmosphere? But God forbid the politicians actually do anything about the real problem! No, just demonise smokers even more, make us into lepers and pariahs… why not stop us from smoking in the street, or in our own homes? Why not ban tobacco, and execute the nicotine fiends?
Don’t fret about the important issues: Iraq, climate change, poverty… fucking with smokers is much more fun.