Hamish Champ: The smoking ban and 'national socialism'

By Hamish Champ

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Smoking ban, Smoking

Here's a quick quiz I just thought up. Don't write in, it's "just for fun". Hands up who thinks we live in a dictatorship? OK. Hands up how many...

Here's a quick quiz I just thought up. Don't write in, it's "just for fun".

Hands up who thinks we live in a dictatorship? OK. Hands up how many people think democracy is crumbling before our eyes? Right. Lastly, hands up those people who think this country is so going to the dogs because of the smoking ban that they want to pack up and leave for somewhere nice and warm and where you can do exactly what you want all the time?*

Quite a few people using the internet, it seems. 'Dictatorship', 'fascism', 'communism', 'totalitarian', 'Hitler', 'Stalin'; these are just some of the rather over-the-top words used in comments on numerous online news stories about the smoking ban.

Yet dare to whisper that you think the smoking ban will make pubs nicer places to spend time in, as I do every so often, and people start slinging the mud.

I have had quite lucid conversations with people who argue that we should adopt a libertarian approach to this issue. A non-smoking bar worker? Work in a non-smoking pub, they say. A punter and you don't like smoke? Don't go where people smoke. You smoke? You pay higher health insurance premiums. And so on. Simple enough. It's called personal responsibility.

But this is not the law on smoking in enclosed public spaces as it currently stands. You might not like it, but that's the way things are. You can still puff away in the street or at home or in the park. And if you think the law is bad, then try to effect change. Contrary to what a number of people think, we do have an opportunity to express our views on stuff like this; it's called an 'election'.

True, governments of all hues introduce stuff they hadn't mentioned before coming to power, which can be infuriating, to say the least.

But if you don't like the Labour government - and I don't, particularly - then you should vote for an alternative, though personally I doubt the Tories would be much cop either. I can't see them rolling back the ban, fr'instance.

At the end of the day there are worse things going on in the UK than being forced to smoke a cigarette in the outdoors. Carry on being rattled by the ban by all means, but some perspective wouldn't go amiss.

* Sadly, but unsurprisingly, such a country doesn't exist.

Related topics: Legislation

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