Pete Robinson: The German "smoking ban" is a big joke

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Related tags: Smoking ban, Germany

Let me begin by declaring I have no time for the corrupt army of EU bureaucrats ensconced in Brussels but I regularly travel throughout Europe on...

Let me begin by declaring I have no time for the corrupt army of EU bureaucrats ensconced in Brussels but I regularly travel throughout Europe on business and find many of those foreign chaps serve a decent half-litre in friendly, welcoming surroundings. With the exception of Norway (and, of course, the Shittish Isles) you can freely smoke just about anywhere.

Plus you can sink as much as you like without guilt, or getting into a fight with some bling-laden, boozed-up halfwit who insists you've been eyeing up his bird.

It seems Political Correctness hasn't gone down so well on the continent. Your average European doesn't share our blind, brainwashed, compliant attitude towards authority. Nor does he meekly accept the dictat of bullying pee-cee politicians as inevitable or unavoidable. When they try to impose bad laws he'll simply ignore them with a pat on the back from the local polizei.

Get their dander up and our continental cousins take to the streets en masse in protest until they force their respective authorities to listen and negotiate. Now why can't we do that?

Take Germany for example. Last year Angela Merkel's government introduced a blanket smoking ban nowhere near as draconian as our own. Within days it was repealed following huge public outcry and a series of legal challenges. The antis would have you believe it's been reinstated but in fact Germany is witnessing the introduction of a patchwork quilt of watered-down restrictions at local level in 16 different states.

As far as bars, taverns & bierkellars are concerned in most cases this amounts, at worst, to little more than provision of ventilation or the non-smoking areas we've had for years. As Christian Wulff, premier of Lower Saxony so admirably puts it:

"The state should not interfere in every part of people's lives and regulate everything. We should establish rules so that wherever people are obliged to spend time, such as in government offices, stations and airports, one is not allowed to smoke. But where people spend time of their own free will, there should be voluntary arrangements."

It's called freedom of choice, fast becoming an alien concept within our own shores.

So why does Germany, normally sticklers for petty rules and regulations, shine as an example of how we should have more fairly introduced our own ban?

Well the Germans have hard-gained experience of life under dictatorship, whereas it's still relatively new to us Brits. They are determined that personal freedom and democracy must prevail and constitutional laws protect them from rabid government excess - the likes of which would have stopped Nu-Labour in it's tracks were we so blessed.

The German people also remember that the original architect of the modern smoking ban was Adolf Hitler, a fervent teetotal vegetarian. In common with fellow dictators, Benito Mussolini and General Franco, Hitler was a committed anti and, having already banned democracy and elections, enacted the first smoking ban in 1938.

Fascist Nazi anti-tobacco activists succeeded in banning smoking from government offices, civic transport, university campuses, rest homes, post offices, many restaurants and bars, hospital grounds and workplaces. Tobacco taxes were raised, cigarette vending machines were banned, and there were calls for a ban on smoking while driving.

Thanks to party-sponsered 'junk science' from the Ministry of Science & Education and the Reich Health Office, posters and cinema 'shorts' were produced depicting smoking as the typically despicable habit of Jews, jazz musicians, Gypsies, Indians, homosexuals, blacks, communists, capitalists, cripples, and harlots.

Zealous lobbyists descended into the schools, terrifying children with tales of impotence, racial impurity and spontaneous abortion. (source: BMJ No 7070 Volume 313)

Any of this sound familiar?

Related topics: Legislation

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