Thursday, March 10, 2005

No Smoking Day

Um, no - I'm not participating. I came across this in the Scotsman; Jack McConnell's new extension to the Executive's plans to ban smoking in enclosed public places involves - would you believe? - the use of mobile anti-smoking clinics outside pubs and bingo halls. What are they going to do exactly? Ambush people who sneak out for a smoke and plaster them with nicotine patches or something?

The problem with our Jack is he's a reformed smoker himself; always the worst. Despite taking the view that this proposed ban is illiberal and stupid, I have to confess I'm looking forward to it in a way - I'm so curious to see what happens. If, for example, they manage to make the Scotia bar a smoke-free zone, I'll be suitably impressed. More likely, people will attempt to get round it in a number of ways; I'm led to believe from my better traveled friends that - outside the US and Dublin - this has been the pattern wherever smoking has been banned.

That's my key objection to this - it's so bloody American, and what I mean by that is these bans sharpen the division between what is permissible in public and what is done in private. In the States, the Constitution enshrines an individual's right to go to hell in his or her own way - but increasingly this is interpreted as meaning, "provided you do this within the confines of your own home."

Personally, I prefer the French attitude to this sort of thing but unfortunately this view is not shared by the born-again health nuts in the Scottish Parliament. I'm quite sure there will still be smoking in some Glasgow pubs after the ban; whether you'd feel safe going into them is not so certain.

Right, I'm off for a smoke now...

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