London–the alleged smoking and drinking capital of the world by sheer volume of alcohol and cigarettes consumed–put its smoking ban into effect, kicking and screaming, on July 1st. Although other cities, such as New York or Paris, have gone through similar labor pains, London’s is the biggest smoking ban yet: it affects 3.7 million businesses, including 200,000 pubs, bars and restaurants.
So far in the last two weeks, smokers have reluctantly gone outside to smoke, but the government is not stopping there. It is planning to change the law so that, among other things, employers can be fined if they fail to stop workers dropping cigarette butts on the street.
The Independent offers a glimpse into the London smokers’ sentiments by quoting a few “influential” ones:
- ‘I am appalled at it. They are treating us like children. I’m not a schoolboy. Mr Brown thinks he’s a prefect’. David Hockney, Artist
- ‘We’re suppressing everyone these days, not allowing adults to make their own minds up’. Antony Worrall Thompson, Chef
- ‘The alleged danger of so-called second-hand smoke is so phoney it stinks to high heaven’. Joe Jackson, Musician
- ‘You would have to search the world very hard to find a single government that would say it was abolitionist’. Paul Adams, British American Tobacco
- ‘Smokers should not be discriminated against simply because they smoke’. Chris Ogden, Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association
- ‘I’m inventing bike sheds to attach to buildings so it’s somewhere people can go to smoke’. Joanna Lumley, Actress
Hmmm, I am a semi-militant non-smoker myself but I realize that smoking bans do raise important questions about personal liberty in civilized societies. Makes you wonder, what’s next?