Ban on smoking in public places

I recently met Perry in London where we briefly discussed the ins and outs of banning smoking. He was all against it, and I, for my sins, did not see a problem with it. Maybe its down to personal experience.

Most of the comments left over on Samizdata support Perry in his argument – include my old mate Frank McGahon.

So l am going to attempt some form of rebuttal.

1. Smoking kills.
2. Passive smoking kills.
3. People smoke.
4. People smoke in public places – hence they are called ‘public’.
5. People have rights.

I can choose to work in a bar, or I can choose not to. But in choosing a profession or job should I also have to make a choice about my health? Why should I have to choose whether or not I work in a healthy environment?

Surely everyone has a *right* to work in a healthy environment? If you work in an office and a no-smoking policy has been implemented by your employer, is that an attack on your civil rights, or an attempt to either stop litigation, or save the health of employees?

Equally if people work in public places, and believe it or not people do, do they not also have the right not to be exposed to a smoke environment?

I should not have to decide that I can either a) work in a healthy environment, or b) work in an unhealthy one. All working environments should be healthy. If it was a matter of choice not many people would work in bars – but they do, and smoke is an extremely unhealthy side effect.

Perry argues that: I do not smoke, though I did puff on a Havana recently, and I generally do not like smoke filled rooms. However, I do not have anyone holding a gun to my head forcing me to go into a smoke filled room against my will or compelling me to take employment with someone who allows people to smoke on their private property (such as a restaurant or bar owner). And yet millions of people see nothing wrong with legitimising threats of violence against others to force them to not smoke for nothing more than their personal convenience.

Perry, saying that inhaling second hand smoke is a matter of personal inconvenience, rather than a direct effect on my health is to miss the point.

I don’t think the State is being heavy handed in Ireland. If people want to smoke, fine, but do it where it only affects the health of the person who chooses to smoke, and their fellow smokers. If you want to smoke around people who are working in public places then tough. Get over it.

128 thoughts on “Ban on smoking in public places”

  1. I don’t think that anybody has the right to work in a healthy environment. At this time of the year, I am being sneezed at and coughed at incessantly for several hours every day.

    Do I have the right not to be sneezed at? No. Do I have the right to demand to work in a part of the building where I’m not being sneezed at? No. The only thing I get is free anti-flu shots (but that’s a fringe benefit, not a right) and to go on sick leave when I get ill, which happens several times a year, thanks to all those nice people who pass on their germs and viruses to me.

  2. When someone takes any decision they must decide for themselves what risks are involved, weigh them against the benefits they expect and proceed according to their own best estimate of their interests. Whether this is in taking a particular job in a bar, choosing to go for a drink in a particular bar or anything else.

    The job of working in a particular bar is in the personal gift of the bar owner. He may offer it to whoever he likes on whatever terms and conditions he likes. A prospective employee, or indeed coustomer, can choose to accept or not those terms and conditions. This is how the free market operates. Any imposed interference in this process undermines the autonomy of the free parties to the transaction, distorts the rational expectations of consumers and investors, undermines property rights, destroys welfare, increases politicisation, celebrates violence backed force, erodes civil society, mocks freedom, limits choice, closes down options, makes waste and obviates personal responsibility.

  3. Gavin,

    Try to be “critical” of your own position on this. Remember you are a “vested interest”. If you work in a smoky premises and you have the opportunity to receive the benefit of a non-smoky workplace “free” (i.e. no loss in salary, convenience, etc) of course you will welcome it. It is a rational selfish choice but that doesn’t mean it is a principled position.

    I am a non-smoker, I hate smoky restaurants and I’m not too keen on smoky pubs. I will receive a benefit “free” if the smoking ban is successful but it is still wrong. The fact is, people smoke in pubs because publicans recognise that smoking on premises attracts more smoking punters than deters non-smokers. If more people actually wanted non-smoking premises a properly functioning market would provide them (and you see this in restaurants).

    Try to imagine the smoking ban from a different angle: take some hobby of yours and imagine that a government restriction was placed on it, not a ban (that would be “heavy-handed”!) but enough to be an inconvenience. Would you feel frustrated or would you accept that the government had a right to regulate and restrict your behaviour?

  4. Plus banning smoking in pubs wouldn’t stop people from smoking in pubs it will just create pubs where they turn a blind eye and those that don’t (the police surely having better things to do).

    Besides a friend described an evening she spent in New York where her and her smoking friends had to leave the bar to smoke. it sounded as if the coming in and out and the division between smoking and non-smoking friends pretty much ruined her evening.

  5. Why should non-smokers not be able to relax or work in public places for the fear of their health being tarnished by smoke that is exhaled by smokers? It is the smoker’s choice to smoke so they should have to move/deal with the problem. We should not have to change as we are not inflicting any problems unto anyone else. A smoking bam would also reduce the nimber of under age smokers as many of them smoke in public places and not at home because their parents do not smoke. Where would they smoke then? I am strongly for the smoking in public places ban and have many reasons/opinions about it.

  6. In reference to Frank McGahon: If I had a hobby that killed 45,000 people a year(that is non-smokers), then yes I would expect the government to restrict my behavior.

  7. As far as I know, none of my hobbies have yet to kill anyone! My conscience would not allow me to continue if it did. Smokers who happily smoke in public places either have no concept of empathy, or their addiction to tobacco leaves them immune to caring about how it affects others.

    Non-smokers should not have to compromise our health in order to uphold the rights of smokers to harm theirs.

  8. I hate smoke!I think it is so stupid and the only reason people start smoking is because they think it makes them look cool or they dont wanna be left out of their little gang.Well all Im gonna tell you is that think befor you really make a answer.Think,Think!It is messing up a piece of your lung every time you lite it.All your doing is like liting a piece of paper.Just think befor you make a wrong answer.

  9. Smoking is stupid. It’s just a way of telling everyone you want to die faster. How pathetic. Wasting your money like that. Smoking is sooooo not cool. It doesn’t make you look cool. Your teeth are yellow and your breath stinks! People who smoke are so selfish. Don’t even think about others. Greedy little fools.

  10. on the idea of people having to deal with smoking in their work place, that only happens in places like restaraunts and bars. in office buildings, employees are made to go outside in order to smoke. if people have such a problem with smoke in resaraunts and bars, DON’T GO TO THEM. duh! its all about personal preference. if you don’t want to be around people who smoke, sit in a ‘no smoking’ section.

  11. on the idea of people having to deal with smoking in their work place, that only happens in places like restaraunts and bars. in office buildings, employees are made to go outside in order to smoke. if people have such a problem with smoke in resaraunts and bars, DON’T GO TO THEM. duh! its all about personal preference. if you don’t want to be around people who smoke, sit in a ‘no smoking’ section.

  12. i spend at least 6 weeks a year in ireland traveling with at least 8 trad irish musicians all smokers .due to the ban we will not be coming again. and as most trad music goes on in pubs and most of the musicians i know like a fag .you will proberly find the music moving to out of the way boozers . that will be very suspicious of any strangers . so whats this going to do to trad music and culture not to mension the end of the day if you dont like fag smoke stay out of the pub.drinkings bad for you anyway.

  13. I believe people should be able to smoke if they want to. I am a non-smoker, I dont like the smell of it, but I can put up with it in another restaurant. If we want our loved ones to quit then we need to be nice and just not so harsh on them.

  14. I think that smoking is perfectly reasonable in the privacy of your own home but when smoking is accpetable in public places such as restaurants and offices i think that it then becomes unreasonble and particularly unhygienic.

  15. oh um casue of that prude thing and i wadnt thinkin and cause you called me a man whore and cause you cried just to get my attention FAKE CRIED haha

  16. i didnt fake cry!!! I was just doing it cause i really was about to cry. I just didnt want to start any more drama to deal with so I acted like I was faking even though I wasnt. I be very,very very,very sorry!!!

  17. casue ur fucking hott i can actually talk to you know!!and make u laugh im the only one you like which makes me very lucky liike ur personality and ur haha a very good kisser and…uh i love u!!!

  18. Danielle, teehee and Evan you are morons, this is an important sublect. Some people actually care about this subject. Personally I was hoping to use this to find peoples opinions for some coursework I’m doing and you are really getting on my nerves. On the subject personally I don’t think it will help smokers quit but it will help reduce passive smoking. I don’t support smoking in anyway, it’s just another way to commit suicide.

  19. Hello All,

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