In praise of the smoking ban

It is now three months since smoking was banned in enclosed public places in England, bringing it into line with the rest of the UK. I have to say that, while Tony Blair’s government have been unpopular on some issues, and have been criticised for producing too much legislation, the Health Act 2006 is one of Labour’s finest achievements, and marked an important stage in the UK’s transformation into a 21st century nation. Never again will people have to put up with breathing in other people’s smoke while working, or enjoying a meal or a drink indoors.

Even the requirement to display signs at the entrance to every building has proved not to be as onerous or unsightly as I had feared at one stage. Most shops already have notices plastered all over their doors or windows; in many cases this already included a “no smoking” sign. So the addition of the standard A5 sign has had little impact. Besides, this requirement will be reviewed in a few years’ time.

Progression of curbs on smoking

My disliking for tobacco smoke goes right back into my early childhood. I have memories of travelling by train, and of it being quite overcrowded. Yet there was one carriage on the train that had plenty of empty seats: it was the smoking carriage. Even then, people preferred to stand for their journey, rather than sit in a smoky environment. Throughout the 90s, trains began to go smoke-free. Train operator GNER became the last to ban smoking on its trains in 2005. They were way behind all other services – by this year it was more or less already taken for granted that trains are places people can’t smoke.

With the smoking ban this July, train companies have decided to extend it beyond the scope of the Act to include smoking on all parts of railway stations, including uncovered platform areas. They already had the powers to do this under railway byelaws, but it seems sensible to introduce the restriction at the same time as the main ban. This will put an end to pathetic scenes such as the one I once witnessed on a railway platform. The train stopped, and the first passenger to jump off was a man already lighting the cigarette that was in his mouth. Puffing away, he then joined the end of the queue of people boarding the train. Less that 30 seconds later, he dropped his cigarette, and climbed back on. Were those really the actions of someone who smokes because he chooses to, and because he enjoys the habit?

As a child, my parents rarely took me to the cinema. One of the reasons they always gave was the amount of smoke inside the auditoria. I can remember in the late 1980s when the first American-style multiplex opened nearby, how wonderful it was to be able to watch a film on the big screen without sitting in a fog of smoke. After all, no-one would want to sit on soiled seats, so why should they have to breathe dirty air? By the late 90s, cinemas didn’t even need to tell people not to smoke any more. Cinemas had simply become places where people didn’t smoke.

Virtually all shops and offices were already non-smoking even before the ban came into force. The law came at the right moment: the time where voluntary measures had more or less been taken as far as they could. The last few offices where the boss likes to smoke would never have gone for a ban without legislation. Of course, the biggest effect has been felt in the entertainment industry. Few restaurants, pubs or nightclubs were ever going to go it alone and be one of the few not allowing smoking out of fear of the effect on their trade, even though the majority of their customers prefer it now smoking isn’t allowed. The law has meant they are all in the same boat, so preventing smoking hasn’t put anyone at a commercial disadvantage.

Flawed arguments against the ban

Of course, there are some people who have criticised the ban as “draconian” or as an infringement of their rights. Many of these are, quite naturally, smokers. But there are also some non-smokers who claim to hold this view. The latter are most usually middle-class so-called liberals who have white collar jobs. They have spent their working lives in offices where smoking has always been banned, yet are all too quick to speak out against the new law. In the past, it would have been people in lower social classes whose health suffered from the effects of smoke. They would have been more likely to work as a waiter or behind a bar. “But wait!” say the libertarians, “people could choose whether they worked in a smoky place.” Unfortunately, that’s not true. Many people, particularly those on low incomes, have no choice over where they work, they have to take whatever job they can find. They certainly don’t have the luxury of choosing a workplace on the grounds of whether smoking is allowed. Those people deserve to have their health protected by law.

The whole argument that a ban on smoking in public somehow infringes people’s rights is extremely flawed anyway. There are many things that people might enjoy doing in their own homes, but that could lead to arrest were they carried out in public (use your imagination). There are many things that people do in the privacy of their own homes that are simply not socially acceptable to do in public, and smoking has become one of them. But then we come to one of the lies that some people state about smoking: that smoking is a choice an adult makes and that they enjoy doing it. If that were true, they wouldn’t mind not being able to do it when they were in public. As an example, I might enjoy listening to loud film soundtracks; but I don’t expect to be able to do so all the time, for example when having a meal in a quiet restaurant. Someone else might like to ride the unicycle; but they are not going to do so while watching a performance at the theatre or using the London Underground.

Smokers somehow consider their habit to have a special status which means they must be allowed to do it wherever they are, and while doing whatever else they might be doing. No other activity has this status, so why should smoking? Most people are at work all day looking forward to whatever they are going to do in the evening. Why are smokers so different that they have to sneak outside every half an hour? They can enjoy the pastime they take pleasure from when they reach home in the evening.

Of course, the simple truth is that smoking is not a pleasurable activity that smokers, as adults, choose to do. Smoking is a drug addiction. If people who smoke can actually admit to that fact, they should go to their doctor and receive treatment to cure their addiction. If on the other hand, they still insist that they choose to smoke and it’s a pleasurable pastime, fine – but in that case there’s no need for them to do it all the time wherever they are; they can wait until they are in the privacy of their own home, just like everyone else enjoying different pastimes.

There are also smokers (or their apologists) who accuse people of “persecuting” smokers. They speak of smokers as if to be a “smoker” is the same as to be a member of a particular race or to practise a certain religion. Smoking can not be compared with these. A “smoker” is simply a person who sometimes smokes. They are in no way being persecuted. All that is asked of them is that they don’t smoke in public. The cigarette isn’t surgically attached to their mouth. If they are just normal people, they can do whatever they want in just the same way as a “non smoker”. They are the ones who label themselves as “smokers”, thereby creating a class of people who is seemingly discriminated against. But again, people who smoke seem to think they have to be allowed to do so wherever they are and whatever they are doing, unlike anyone who enjoys any other pastime. But then, do you know, the local restaurants in my town really persecute tubists? (That’s people who play the tuba, by the way.) None of them allows tubists to use the restaurant. Isn’t that dreadful? I think we need to form a pressure group straight away. Some tubists even complain that their employers don’t allow them to play while they work at their desks, and even put a limit on the number of tuba breaks they are allowed to take.

Why smoking can’t be allowed in public

Even if it were to be found that passive smoking doesn’t cause cancer, heart disease or any other illness, there would still be a very strong case for preventing people from doing it in public. Just the fact that it’s extremely unpleasant should be enough of a reason. No-one would consider making a very loud noise in public, or spraying others with water, or emitting any sort of foul smell. So why was smoking around others considered acceptable for so long?

However, that’s entirely academic. The only studies that have claimed to find no link between passive smoking and disease are those sponsored by tobacco manufacturers. To anyone who still claims that passive smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer, I’d say just one name: Roy Castle. The popular entertainer, a lifelong non-smoker, died from lung cancer in 1994. While it can obviously never be proved, his cancer was almost certainly due to Roy spending many years playing the trumpet in smoke-filled clubs. As a presenter on the children’s TV programme Record Breakers, Roy was one of my favourite personalities (and it’s rare for me to look up to celebrities at all). As far as I’m concerned, the tobacco industry, and every single smoker, apologist, or anyone else who supports it, are collectively responsible for his death.

I’m sure many people with asthma would also have something to add to this debate. I am fortunate enough not to suffer from this condition, but as I understand it, many asthmatics were unable to go into pubs or other smoky places prior to the ban. They really were discriminated against: premises quite rightly have to have ramps to make them accessible to wheelchair users; so it’s only right that they have to be smoke-free to make them accessible to asthmatics.

Once again, I hear the pro-smokers saying, “Wait! People can choose not to go to those smoky places.” But as I’ve already explained, many people didn’t have a choice where they worked. There were also few pubs or restaurants that were smoke-free, and even then, people aren’t always at liberty to choose where to go. Sometimes, people might be invited to socialise with their work colleagues. Politely refusing could leave them out of favour with their boss or co-workers, but why should they have to make the choice between that and their health?

There was always one other anomaly surrounding smoking. Anyone who has worked in industry or research where chemicals are used will know about COSHH. If there is even the slightest risk of illness, or of coming into contact with the smallest quantities of a carcinogen, it requires completing reams of paperwork, and most probably conducting procedures within a fume cupboard, or wearing protective equipment. Yet until July, it would have been quite legal for people to smoke at work without any risk assessment taking place, exposing everyone nearby to toxic particles that are far worse than many of the controlled chemicals. This loophole has finally been closed by the Health Act, and before then, many workplaces were smoke-free anyway. Yet the same principle applies to people walking in the street. Anyone found carrying a toxic chemical in the street is likely to be arrested (and these days no doubt charged with being a terrorist). Yet they can quite legally expose people to over 40 carcinogens, and to toxins including carbon monoxide and cyanide – as long as it’s from the end of a cigarette, it’s legal.

The future

Campaigning for smoking bans doesn’t end here, there’s still a long way to go. One of the inevitable side-effects of the new law is that more people smoke outdoors. This causes a nuisance for people living near establishments such as pubs. It also means an increase in smoking-related litter on the ground – something that’s completely indefensible, in common with all litter. A responsible person would never drop any litter, yet somehow I suspect someone who smokes is likely to be of the mindset that it’s OK to drop litter: perhaps that’s a prejudiced view, but I’d be only too happy if smokers could prove me wrong by ensuring there are never cigarette ends on the street.

The outdoor smoking can be quite noticeable in a busy street, however. This is still quite unacceptable. As discussed throughout the article, making the environment around you unpleasant for other people it not considered acceptable; nor is exposing others to toxic chemicals allowed. So why should people be allowed to smoke in the street? We are still seeing the same old attitude towards smoking: that it’s something special that automatically should be allowed everywhere. In time, this will have to be addressed.

While we are talking about the future, there’s one point at least that I hope everyone could agree on, whether they approve of the smoking law in general or not: smoking should be banned in the Palace of Westminster just as it is everywhere else. The hypocrites are still allowed to have smoking areas in the Houses of Parliament. We can’t have one law for them, and one for everyone else.

There is one occasion in particular where I’ve always thought smoking should be banned, on this occasion not because of health risks or passive smoking: while driving. Just this week, a new version of the Highway Code has advised people not to smoke while driving, as this could mean they are not fully in control of their vehicle, so could be prosecuted. This was the situation with mobile phones, before a law banning hand-held phones while driving was introduced. It only makes sense that smoking is a distraction. Holding anything in the hand when driving must seriously hinder a driver’s ability to control the vehicle safely; if the item in question is a collection of burning material, that makes matters much worse. What happens if he drops it? He’ll have to retrieve it quickly – not easy in the fast lane of a motorway. And what if there is an accident? Is a lighted cigarette a good thing to have around spilled fuel? Smoking while driving should be outlawed by a specific law in the way that using a mobile is. Of course, the pro-smokers have all come out of the woodwork to accuse the government of further persecuting smokers. It’s even been described as being a ban on people smoking in one of the few refuges still available to them. But that is not true. There is no ban on people smoking in their private car, as long as it’s not used for work purposes. The Highway Code says that the driver shouldn’t smoke while driving. He can pull into a layby to smoke; he can pop out to the car park at lunch time to smoke in his car. But the smoking lobby does like to twist any bit of news to claim smokers are being persecuted.

Today, three months after the ban, is also the day that the age at which cigarettes can legally be bought is raised to 18. However, as far as I’m aware, it’s still legal to smoke from the age of 14, just not to buy tobacco products. Perhaps this should be addressed.

Another future measure I would like to see is a ban on smoking in front of children, whether in the street or at home. It breaks my heart to see a parent with a child, often a very young child in a pushchair, with the parent smoking away. Not only is it damaging the child’s health, it also surely makes them much more likely to take up smoking when they are older. Smoking around a child amounts to child cruelty. And again, I can think of things most parents wouldn’t do in front of their children. Why does smoking have to be different?

With housing in such short supply, and people living closer and closer together, in flats or terraces, it is inevitable that smoke will drift into other people’s homes. Earlier this year, one couple were already investigated by environmental health officers after smoke found its way into a neighbour’s house. Quite right too – there’s no reason why smoking should be treated more lightly any other environmental nuisance. But perhaps we need stronger laws enshrining the right of people not to have to breathe the smoke of others in any situation.

Ultimately, of course, the solution to all these problems would be to ban smoking altogether. Of course some people would still do it, but other people would always have the absolute right to complain if they were bothered by tobacco smoke. It may seem impossible that smoking could ever be banned outright, yet 30 years ago, who could believe that smoking could be banned from all indoor public places? In 30 years’ time we may well see that total ban, with this foul habit, which is only allowed now due to an anomaly of history, finally consigned to the ash-tray of the past.

11 responses to “In praise of the smoking ban”

  1. DaveA

    You must be one of Stalin’s “useful idiots”. I am quite happy to go through your blog line by line but just take one quote “Unfortunately, that’s not true. Many people, particularly those on low incomes, have no choice over where they work”. Does this include the 100s of thousands of Poles, Czech’s, Latvian’s, Estonian’s etc etc who serve me a large of Merlot at bars in London? If you look at you will find that 88% of bar workers did not want the ban as most of them smoke. In the same way Orson Welles was able to fool millions of Americans in his radio adaptation of War Of The Worlds, in 1938 into believing they had been invaded by Martians, I assume you have succombed to he lie that second hand smoke is harmful.

  2. mandyv

    Johnathon, I quote “Why smoking can’t be allowed in public
    Even if it were to be found that passive smoking doesn’t cause cancer, heart disease or any other illness, there would still be a very strong case for preventing people from doing it in public. Just the fact that it’s extremely unpleasant should be enough of a reason. No-one would consider making a very loud noise in public, or spraying others with water, or emitting any sort of foul smell. So why was smoking around others considered acceptable for so long?

    Ventilation and choice should have been the way forward, not lies and scare-mongering. There are many non-smokers, who do not belive this ban is right.

    You may not care that you have also ruined many peoples social life, for smoking something that is legal.
    The elderly smokers did not get a choice or voice. Just the like of you, who want to control others.
    It was never about health. I understand many do not like the smell, but the smell of the obnoxious antis is far worse to many also.
    I have a major problem with those who wear, after shave, perfumes and deoderants, not all of them I have to say. I have had meals ruined because of those carcinogen fumes wafting over.
    I would not want them banned though.
    You may not care that the elderly will be cast out into the cold, for a smell you do not like.
    You do not care that buisness will lose money, because it is not yours to lose, you will not compensate them.
    You now have your smokefree everything, yet you still do not stop. Why do you think your rights are more important than others. Signs could have also been put up for “this is a smoking establishment” then YOU need not enter. No you want control. But you will not control all of the people.
    You can have your old people homes, I hope to God I do not make it into one.
    Then you will get a taste at what loneliness is all about. I just hope your visitors can tolerant the smell of some of them, to bother visiting you.

  3. Carlos

    Well there is not more I can add to the previous posts other than how obnoxious your comments are. As Dave says most of them indeed did not want the ban- as indeed did the customers because otherwise there”d be already enough smokefree pubs mwith the free market- nuff said.

    Check out your facts èpassive smoking is nothing more than a mere irritant.

  4. MRab2

    “Just the fact that it’s extremely unpleasant should be enough of a reason.”

    This statement alone highlight what a truly narrow minded person you are. Not liking something and it being illegal should be an ideological gulf, not a short hop. Have to stopped to considered how many aspects of your own life other people find unpleasant and how you would feel if you suddenly found yourself marginalised because of it.

    You then go on to say the following;
    “No-one would consider making a very loud noise in public”

    Have no NEVER been to a concert? Or a nightclub or even half of the pubs in the UK these days – with music so loud you have to shout over it?
    All public places where loud noises are found (though some call it music). I tend to avoid these places, but perhaps I should follow your example, since I find it unpleasant it should therefor be illegal.

    You then further go on to say;
    “or spraying others with water, or emitting any sort of foul smell.”

    Both of which are legal. If you’ve ever been to a park and seen kids running around with water pistols you’d know this, or out into the country and smelt the stench of slurry you’d know neither occurance is uncommon.
    According to you they’re both unpleasant and therefor should be illegal. God alone knows how many other things you find unpleasant and would ban were you ever to come to power.
    I got to bed tonight glad that you’re NOT in charge.

  5. Jonathan

    The sudden influx of comments is due to this post featuring in a discussion forum on the website “freedom2choose”, which is essentially a pro-smoking website. Someone called “carlo Em” from Padova, Italy, and apparently “F2C Royalty”, posted a link with the message:
    “An anti’s blog”… “Lets get in there- published in Oktober (sic).”
    I have let the comments stand in the interest of free speech, although they present a rather unbalanced view and in no way reflect public opinion. Unfortunately, not everyone is happy with the idea of free speech: my account on the forum has already been banned – my username was “smokersstink”, but I hadn’t posted any messages.

    Interestingly, no-one has answered the important question of why smokers should be able to smoke wherever they are, whatever they are doing, while everyone else does the activities they enjoy at an appropriate time and place – in many cases in the privacy of their own home.

    It’s impossible for everyone to be satisfied regarding the laws on smoking. The difference is, people now do have the freedom to choose to visit a smoke-free establishment, which wasn’t available before: there may have been the odd posh, non-smoking restaurant in London, but everywhere else, nothing. It’s not enough to leave it to free market economics as past experience has shown. And it’s now the majority who are catered for.

    The only research that claimed there’s no link between passive smoking and lung cancer was that sponsored by the tobacco industry. I know of no peer-reviewed research that claims smelling perfume causes cancer (although drinking it is probably a bad idea) – in fact, mandyv has brought up an interesting point, as if any such research was published, wearing the offending fragrances in public would be banned immediately, and they would most likely be withdrawn from sale. Perhaps the same should be true for cigarettes.

    I would like to see some of the posters above go into a restaurant and throw a bucket of water over diners, or shout down someone’s ear. They would be asked to leave immediately, and the police might even be called.

    Smoking in public has only been allowed for so long for historical reasons – it’s quite an anomaly. In fact, smoking in general would never be allowed if it was invented today. Saying “smoking is legal” so you should be able to do it anywhere is a very weak argument: are you really saying you’d prefer it to be banned altogether? The world has changed, far fewer people smoke now, the law needed to catch up.

    In a YouGov poll in mid-June, 77% of people supported the ban, including 39% of smokers. Only 20% opposed it. If at some point in the future, there is a similar level of support for banning smoking altogether, it will happen; for the moment, without that support, it won’t. One thing’s certain: the ban on smoking in public places is a fine example of democracy in action.

  6. DaveA

    You wrote “Interestingly, no-one has answered the important question of why smokers should be able to smoke wherever they are, whatever they are doing, while everyone else does the activities they enjoy at an appropriate time and place – in many cases in the privacy of their own home.”

    I do not expect to be able to smoke anywhere and anytime I want. In the same way that on a motorway I can drive at 70 mph but do not expect to do the same down a residential street, anytime, anywhere. However as being a mammal and homo sapien I am a social animal and like to “herd” with my fellow human beings, ideally in an “approved” by your good self in a social establishment. This to me is a pub or a bar. If it is well ventilated and separate, or even a different venue to where you want to go, what is your problem?

    BTW we are not pro smoking but merely pro choice. I do not want to inconvenience you.

  7. Claudette

    “Jonathan Rawle was born in the West Midlands of England in March 1979. He was educated at King Charles I School, Kidderminster, and then went on to complete both his first degree and PhD in physics at the University of Leicester. He currently lives in Didcot, Oxfordshire, and works at a nearby research establishment.”

    If this is an accurate account of your credentials, for an educated man, your writing lacks intelligence.

    “The difference is, people now do have the freedom to choose to visit a smoke-free establishment, which wasn’t available before: there may have been the odd posh, non-smoking restaurant in London, but everywhere else, nothing. It’s not enough to leave it to free market economics as past experience has shown.”

    Why do you think that is? Perhaps it’s because 70% of pub goers are smokers and the pubs were catering to the majority of the clientele. After all, landlords are in the business to make a living, it’s called free enterprise-an economic and political doctrine holding that a capitalist economy can regulate itself in a freely competitive market through the relationship of supply and demand with a minimum of governmental intervention and regulation.

    “The only research that claimed there’s no link between passive smoking and lung cancer was that sponsored by the tobacco industry.”

    Where on God’s earth did you get this from? The organisation that found that there was no link between passive smoking and lung cancer was, much to their dismay, The World Health Organisation. F.Y.I. They do not get funding from the tobacco industry, on the contrary, they receive funding from large pharmaceutical companies who make billions of pounds selling us NRT products which are being marketed by WHO and ASH.

    “I know of no peer-reviewed research that claims smelling perfume causes cancer.”

    Hey! You finally got one right! However fragrances cause individuals who suffer from Asthma to have an attack, which could be fatal.

    “In a YouGov poll in mid-June, 77% of people supported the ban, only 20% opposed it.”

    How many people participated in that poll? Was it a 97? 100? 1000? 10,000? Only a poll which included a response from every adult in this country would give you an accurate picture of how people view the ban.

    “One thing’s certain: the ban on smoking in public places is a fine example of democracy in action.”

    You appear to be confused, the definition of democracy is – state of society characterised by formal equality of rights and privileges.

  8. John

    Dear Sir, Unfortunately your comments regarding Freedom2Choose are incorrect.
    It is stated quite clearly on the site, that it is a “civil liberties” group not a pro-smoking group.
    It is also true that the smoking ban is the topical infringement on civil liberties in the UK but there are many others since NuLab got into power.
    Please also read the largest and most comprehensive study on passive smoking from Enstrom/Kabat which, I believe, was the one you referred to as being paid for by tobacco companies. This is ludicrous. The study was paid for by the American Cancer Society which withdrew it’s support at the end when it discovered that the results of the study did not support their own agenda. Enstrom/Kabat received the last 5% of the funding to be able to publish the report. The results were in before thay had any tobacco funding.
    I hope that my children can grow up in a free society where they can make their own choices. Your idea of society seems to have very little to do with freedom.

  9. DaveA

    May I also confirm that the Enstrom/Kabat report published in the British Medical Journal was bankrolled by the American Cancer Society and Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds paid for the literally the printing costs of report. That was in 1998 when the study concluded. THIS WAS DONE ON THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THEY DID NOT HAVE SIGHT ON THE RESULTS UNTIL POST PUBLICATION.

  10. Alan Thrower

    It looks from the above that this blogger has been comprehensively shown as not knowing what on Earth he is talking about, unless being selfish is his particular centre of expertise.

    May I correct the aspect of this blog that I found totally incorrect and unfounded, considering I am 12 years older and, quite obviously, a lot wiser than the ill-informed and dangerously prejudiced writer (I’d say, too, that a psychologist could well find some deep-seated problems regarding smoke as a kid that would explain such a ridiculous point of view)?

    I also remember catching trains when the smoking carriage accounted for one eighth of the available space … I don’t ever remember being able to crowbar my way into it though as it was always rammed full of passengers while the other 7 carriages were quite visibly free of people and seats were readily available.

    Perhaps the blogger should smoke as his memory is cloudy anyway, what extra harm could a cigarette possibly do?

  11. Jonathan

    @DaveA: I realise your site presents itself as a “pro-choice” site, yet on browsing it, the vast majority of articles seem to discuss smoking. For the purposes of this debate, it’s a pro-smoking site.

    @Claudette: So 70% of pub-goers were smokers? Perhaps that’s because many non-smokers have traditionally avoided pubs. And it will take a very long time to change that as people aren’t going to alter their behaviour overnight.

    @Alan Thrower: unlike you, I’ll assume good faith and suggest we travelled on different trains, or that you are remembering an earlier time when more people smoked. I can clearly remember standing on trains between Kidderminster and Birmingham in the late 80s. And when GNER finally announced smoking on-board their trains was to stop, one prominent figure was quoted in the Telegraph as saying it was a pity as it was the only place he could ever find a seat (sorry, I did look, but can’t find a reference right this minute)

    Isn’t it funny that Googling “Enstrom/Kabat report” returns the Forest website as the top result? Could this be that it’s the only report that has ever shown only a statistically insignificant link between passive smoking and disease? All other reports before and since have shown a significant link. Scientific consensus is that there is a link. None of the people posting here is an expert in this field. In fact, you are all completely unqualified to comment as you all have interests in “proving” that smoking is harmless. Smokers seem to believe that there is some sort of grand conspiracy theory, and that the entire medical profession is out to get them. I would suggest that none of you have any experience of academic research. The people publishing these reports are people of great integrity. They set their personal beliefs aside and search for the truth. Their only desire is to prevent people from suffering with terrible diseases. The lot of you need to grow up and stop sticking your head in the sand when it comes to passive smoking. Perhaps then other people could work with you to accommodate you somehow. As things stand, you have no credibility.

    As for opinion polls, you can find the results here. If you have a problem with sample sizes, etc., perhaps you can take that up with YouGov. They choose samples representative of the population (yes I’m afraid they don’t just ask people from your little forum – the big wide world does exist outside, you know). I doubt big organisations would bother paying them money if the poll results were meaningless. If the result had been 55% in favour of the ban against 45%, that wouldn’t be significant. But 77% against 20% is a clear indication of public support for the ban.

    Still no-one has given the right answer to my question. I think I gave the answer in the original post. Other than the fact it’s a historical anomaly, the reason smokers think they should be able to smoke in all sorts of places is actually because smoking is an addiction. You hate it when you can’t smoke. You get agitated. You can’t enjoy yourself. Freedom of choice isn’t involved once you are hooked. Most of you are drug addicts. And quite honestly, letting smokers comment on this public health policy is letting lunatics run the asylum.

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