Advantages Public health, blah blah blah
Disadvantages Discrimination? Danger? Possibly...
Yes, I am a smoker. This means that my argument against the public smoking ban will probably be considered invalid, because I am obviously one of the evil, uncaring purveyors of the passive smoke that the government is trying to eliminate. I'll try not to get too bogged down in the health issue, as it would be hypocritical of me to type with one hand about my personal opinions on public health while I'm smoking a fag with the other. Nor am I going to start blethering on about rights and civil liberties - we've heard it all before, and it's tedious.As I live in Scotland, the smoking ban has now been in effect for a week. To be honest, it doesn't affect me all that much, as I rarely go to the pub, and have never smoked in other public areas such as shopping centres anyway. Contrary to popular belief, I do actually respect other people's wishes, and personally I feel uncomfortable walking through a busy street on a Saturday holding a cigarette at eye-level with children.
However, there are a number of issues, from a smoker's point of view, which have been raised in my mind as a result of the ban.I did happen to go for a couple of drinks after work on Friday evening with my work colleagues, so it was my first experience of being unable to smoke in the pub. Going outside for a fag on this occassion didn't bother me; there were two other smokers in our party so we went together when we felt the need to satisfy our addiction. Of course, it was chucking it down with rain and freezing cold, but we accepted that. One of the other smokers with me brought his drink with him and had his head just inside the porch to shelter from the rain - and was told he would be barred if seen doing it again. And again, we accepted it. We clearly have no right to be warm or dry, being the filthy, anti-social smokers that we are. But it did make me wonder.
If I had been a lone female, would I still have been disallowed from bringing my drink with me? In that case, what measures are in place to stop someone from spiking my drink whilst I leave it unattended? How safe would I have been from a mugging, or worse, standing outside that pub in Kilmarnock, if I didn't have two men with me? I would have been nervous to stand there alone had it been a little later into the night.Another thing which concerns me is that more people may now be inclined to stay at home to have a drink and a cigarette in peace. This, it would seem, is the preferred option, because in their own home the smoker is only damaging their own health, and therefore not infringing on anyone else's right to clean air. Oh, except for the smoker's children, that is. The way I see it, if more smokers are avoiding the big wide world and staying at home so they can partake of a substance which, incidentally, is perfectly legal, then more children will be exposed to passive smoke. And by my understanding, the effects of passive smoking on children in particular was one of the first reasons put forward to justify a ban!
A colleague of mine was saying she has struggled to sleep for the past week. She might have been losing sleep over the fact that she'll have to stand in the rain next time she goes for a smoke, but the reason was that she lives in close range of two busy pubs. The smokers congregating outside the pubs as a result of the ban kept her awake with their conversations. Another flaw, albeit minor, in the initiative.The one thing that annoys me most about this ban is that it's arse is so squarely on the fence that it must be getting splinters. I would respect the government far more if they initiated a complete ban on the sale of tobacco. Now, I'm not entirely serious when I say that as it would be impossible to enforce, and I like my Golden Virginia too much, but at least it would be a definitive crackdown. By doing it this way, they're still getting millions of pounds in the extortionate taxes on the stuff - which, let's face it, is the most important factor - but they can also keep the scare-mongerers and health activists happy. After all, they have to be seen to be doing something, don't they?
As a side-note, I heard a rumour (just a rumour - I can't back it up) that the Scottish parliament buildings actually have an indoor smoking room for staff who like to partake of the nasty habit. No standing in the rain for them, then...
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