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Smoke Free Catastrophe

Andy Davis
8th July 2009



Two years on from when the final and largest piece of the UK smoking ban was in place, even the Government sponsored spin from the health lobbies is being drowned out by the undisputed failure of the legislation. Are the pubs and clubs full of non-smokers? Well ASH convinced the Trade Organisations that they would be swamped with smoke-averse new customers, and so would be foolish to not support a blanket ban. So, what happened? Soon after publicly mocking the pub trade, ASH moved on to tobacco display and vending machine bans with no evidential basis, and continued promoting hatred of smokers- job done. Meanwhile the pubs are closing at 50+ a week and while those with egg on their faces, scapegoat supermarkets(always sold cheap alcohol) or the recession(started a year after the ban), as elephant in the room merrily tramples unhindered over the livelihoods of thousands of licensees. But have any lives been saved? We have seen no unusual increase in the population, but have witnessed 100,000+ jobs disappear from the hospitality trade. We have seen the usual science by press release from the health lobby, citing a huge drop in heart attack admissions to hospitals, in Scotland, then in England. The same contrived reports have appeared after each ban in each country worldwide. Of course when the true, published results came out, the actual figures revealed (as always), quite a different story altogether. Is there a more pleasant environment in hospitality venues? Yes if you like empty pubs, or a constant transit of people walking in and out, doorways decorated with huddled smokers, and an environment devoid of atmosphere, plagued by unventilated smells of body odour, perfume and stale beer. Otherwise no, especially when instead, you could have the choice of a pleasant, convivial environment, where smoking is permitted. But there must be fewer smokers now you can’t smoke inside? Yes, if you believe the Cancer Research UK survey of their own supporters paid for by the Government and generous grants from the companies that make nicotine patches. No, if you read the NHS figures from detailed lifestyle questionnaires (Health survey for England 2008) conducted year on year, and compared with pre-ban habits. In fact smoking numbers have risen in the age group (16-34) mainly targeted by the subtext of the legislation itself. Of course similar rises were seen in Scotland and Ireland, who implemented their bans sometime before the rest of us. So, instead of saving the NHS money the Government has spent £2.6 billion (£1bn over budget) on the ban, and lost countless millions in duty, as disenfranchised smokers show their contempt by choosing to buy tobacco abroad or from ‘tobacco dealers’. The trough continues to feed the Pharmaceutical companies with the free promotion of their products, subsidies, and NHS staff employed to ‘encourage’ their use. Unfortunately for the tax-payer, it was recently announced that Nicotine patches, gum, inhalers etc have a 98.4% failure rate. - More wasted money. Think how the NHS could really have benefited from such loose purse strings. So, what are we left with? A choice. But unfortunately not for everyone. No, the choice lies within the walls of the Palace of Westminster, and it is this: Continue to play the tune of the unelected ‘health’ lobby groups who have no regard for personal choice, jobs (apart from their own), or social cohesion. Continue to mistrust adults to co-operate to agree their own arrangements. If the ban continues in its current form there will be no traditional pubs left. There will be no Workingmen’s or membership clubs. There will be no Bingo halls. There will be no rights for property owners who might like to allow a legal product to be consumed on their own premises. There will be no rights for patients in secure hospitals, the repercussions on staff this entails hardly make for a healthy workplace. Or Allow hospitality venues, and rooms within these venues and other workplaces to be set aside for smoking. Utilise relatively inexpensive modern Air Management technology to negate concerns about/aversions to tobacco smoke. Hospitals use such technology to protect patients and staff from airborne viruses in isolation units. Simpler variants on this technology exist to remove tobacco smoke, and prevent it from reaching non-smoking areas, where a measurable high standard of air quality can be guaranteed. The much publicised chemicals in Tobacco smoke are still present in indoor air from soft furnishings, cleaning products, perfume, and cooking smoke from kitchens. These often go unchecked as ventilation systems are not now as prevalent since the ban, and modern building regulations mean rooms are becoming sealed. It’s interesting that welding shops can be 100% enclosed and not breach the HSE Workplace Exposure Limits for the smoke that welders inhale. Yet we ignore the same guidelines we already had in place for the constituents of tobacco smoke. There is a simple solution to what was a relatively small problem. That same solution can prevent what is now becoming a catastrophe. AMEND THE BAN!
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