Thursday, 18 August 2011

Scotsman: World is adopting the smoking ban: denying the wisdom of ages

Surely the message from this piece by Scotsman consumer affairs correspondent Jane Bradley is that the rest of the world isn't adopting the smoking ban – at least not with the 'zero tolerance' approach adopted throughout the United Kingdom.

Bradley claims that the smoking ban has halved children's exposure to smoke (this seems a bit unlikely to me but no doubt she has studied the 'correct' sources) and that the smoking ban was 'likely' to be here to stay. She speaks of other 'countries' going further than the UK (referring to individual US states and possibly states in Australia), but also refers to countries, like the Netherlands, where the ban has not gained popular support.

Simon Clark of Forest is quoted as having pretty much given up on Scotland as a lost cause ('I think we are resigned to the fact that we are unlikely to make much headway in getting the ban reverted in Scotland'). Never say die, Simon. Bradley does however acknowledge the unpopularity of the ban with publicans:
Limited opposition to the ban in Scotland, makes this option unlikely, though it would be a welcome move for disgruntled publicans who say people are staying at home to drink while smoking. It is estimated that more than 450 pubs have shut down in Scotland since the ban was introduced five years ago.
The ever present Sheila Duffy of ASH Scotland deplores the suggestion of amending the ban declaring that 'only a blanket ban offers complete protection from second-hand smoke'. She then urges people to ban smoking in their own cars in order to achieve even more protection from second-hand smoke – she's nothing if not thorough.

The article finishes with the nonsense that smoking while driving is not safe – typical of the tunnel vision adopted by people from every walk of life who wish to discourage smoking. The number of journeys completed safely on a daily basis is testament to the nonsense of this statement. The only things that make driving unsafe are inattention, faulty mechanics, alcohol and certain other medications, and bad luck/other drivers. (You can see road casualties from this link here: Table ras:10001 for numbers of accidents and Table ras:30002 for numbers of casualties. Clearly it would be better if we didn't have so many, but I don't see how you can come out with smoking as a factor on the basis of anything better than supposition.)

Bradley claims that the smoking ban is likely to stay, and even Forest despairs of removing it. But no smoking ban is needed. And while the ban hasn't brought demonstrators to the streets in Scotland as it has in the Netherlands or Spain, there is no doubt that smokers would increase their attendance in public venues if there were no ban. It is simply normal behaviour to congregate, whether over tea and coffee or over a drink.

No smoking ban is needed, because smoke is only one of a number of pollutants that were discussed in an air quality standard that was drawn up in 2007 for the whole of Europe. Table A1 shows levels of pollutants in indoor air (four levels, of which smoking takes place in levels 2, 3 and 4), and there are detailed descriptions of how to dispel the pollutants. Technically beyond my comprehension, but it certainly doesn't say: 'Don't even try and get rid of tobacco smoke. Can't be done – but here's how to deal with kitchen and garage exhausts, paints and solvents.'

All this technology exists because somebody has identified a need to extract pollutants from air. The need is there, followed by the application of science to meet the need. The wisdom of 'anti-smoking' seeks to overturn the wisdom of centuries in the words of Rollo Tommasi (comment 15). 'No air management system can protect people in a room from smoke produced in that room.' We can make aeroplanes, rockets, perform surgery, make bridges that can carry formidable amounts of traffic – design all manner of hardware, software, learn languages, apply computer languages to make virtual reality. But we can't move smoke? ever?

Try this, Rollo.


Dick Puddlecote said...

Yeah but, tobacco smoke is magic smoke which is impervious to the laws of physics, unlike nerve gas and other minor intoxicants.

Rollo is wise enough to understand this, why can't you? ;)

Ed said...

The devious Scottish Politicians and the Anti-Smoking lobby in Scotland must have been aware of the EU Air Quality Standards which were in draft form well before the smoking ban was introduced in 2006.

Bill Gibson said...

Yes, more fairy tales from the Scotsman

The world is NOT embracing the Smoking Ban