Thursday, 6 September 2012

Of smoking bans and beds

This morning on BBC Scotland, Kaye Adams put forward the discussion proposed in Tasmania to ban smoking completely to anyone born in the twenty-first century. It's clearly not part of her working life to be having to confirm people's ages by ID on an ongoing basis from 2018 on. The idea of having to ID people of 50 and 60 years old in a few decades hasn't occurred to Kaye, but she has a touching faith that 'out of sight is out of mind', and that people who are under 13 today simply won't grow up in the expectation that people will smoke. This is in spite of the tendency, which anti-smokers accept, that people generally start smoking before the age of legal purchase.

Kaye found herself in a minority as most callers to the programme opposed it.

More stories of interest: one, the recent research on bed-blocking in Scottish hospitals. It is hard to open a Scottish newspaper these days without finding some evidence of funding problems in the health service. Admittedly the near-one million pounds going to ASH Scotland on an annual basis would not go far in funding children's wards, for example. But the general theme is that non-urgent spending on issues that have been created by specific budgets displaces urgent funding needed for practical purposes on the ground.

On the subject of beds, this story popped up today from Tanzania: namely a report of tobacco company donations of hospital beds. In 'enlightened' Western Europe, this would never be allowed. One would hope that tobacco companies would not gain undue influence in Tanzanian society following such donations as the anti-smoking communities have here, even though  anti-smoking communities don't donate many hospital beds! (Perhaps they would claim that their efforts are freeing up hospital beds, but such a claim would be hard to prove.)

Finally in the Lebanon a BBC report gives a divided picture of the public reception of smoking bans, which opens by putting the smoking ban issue in some perspective:
So far this summer, the country has dealt with gunbattles in Beirut, warring Sunni and Alawite neighbourhoods in Tripoli, waves of kidnappings, an increase in bank robberies, untold numbers of tyres burned by angry residents blocking roads, and up to 12-hour rolling blackouts linked to an employee strike at the state-owned electricity company. 
Yet on Monday, the authorities turned their attention to banning smoking inside restaurants, cafes, pubs and nightclubs.
It finishes by describing a demonstration:
Along with the Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafes, Nightclubs and Pastries, they were demanding amendments to the law to allow smoking in some establishments.
Considering the day-to-day inconveniences experienced in this community, the syndicate might have good cause to fear uneven and unfair implementation of the ban.

This piece even describes the anti-smoker interviewed in the piece as 'griping'. Well done Matt Nash for some balanced reporting.

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