Friday, September 25, 2009

Another point of view

Pete has posted this comment in relation to my item yesterday about the proposed total ban on smoking in bars here in Spain.

It's a tough one Keith. My civil libertarianism wants to make a place for smokers, but my selfishness doesn't.
But my problem , as is always the case, isn't the regulation - it's the people.

The concept of smoking and non smoking areas is a nonsense. Unless you are completely physically segregated with double door airlock like systems between them then you get cross contamination. It also takes incredibly little smoke to upset a non smoker, and smokers do not, and in fairness cannot, realise how much the smoke smells.

I think the problem is down to a minority with no consideration. I can't tell you how many concerts, meals - even airshows, that I have had spoiled by smokers. Smokers also generally think that outside is totally fair game and won't bother anyone, even in the middle of a densely packed crowd.

If bars were separately licensed, and smoking licenses were granted in proportion to the smoking population - be that one bar in three, four, five, whatever - I'd be completely happy. I would totally and completely support smoking rooms in airports and public buildings.

The moral imperative here though, and one that doesn't work for fatty foods and caffeinated drinks, is the element of choice. If I choose to drink gallons of strong coffee, it doesn't upset you very much. But it only takes one person smoking a cigarette badly to piss off as many as fifty people. And that's where it gets messy. And yes, the same argument DOES apply to alcohol, and yes I'd cheerfully ban that tomorrow as well.

If everyone was considerate to everyone else's needs, smokers and non-smokers alike, then a problem would not exist.

I can’t argue with any of that. Even though I have been a pipe smoker for more years that I care to remember, I sometimes find the smell of cigarette smoke quite unpleasant. In my days of teaching, I used to share lifts with a neighbour. Three our out of the four people in the car were smokers, The owner, who was the non-smoker, allowed us to indulge our habits during the journey to school. There were times when you would have thought we were driving through dense fog added to which the smell of the smoke was atrocious. 

I understand that some non-smokers can tolerate smoke in the air whilst others find it utterly repulsive even distressful. Those of us who do smoke, need to be sensitive to that. I personally would not wish to cause distress to others because of my habit which is why I never light up my pipe in other people’s houses unless I know that they approve. Nor would I smoke in a restaurant or other public place if I thought it would affect others. 

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