Sunday, 1 July 2007

Breathing Easier...

I've been waiting for 1 July for months now, and it is finally here. Why? Smoking is now banned in all public/commerical buildings in England.

That may seem fairly trivial, but the air in English pubs can get so smoky as to be unbreathable. Many times I have sat down to enjoy some chips and a pint 'r two, and had the experience rendered completely unenjoyable by a suffocating haze emitted by smokers. It's not just distasteful - research suggests 600 pub workers in the UK die every year from second-hand smoke. In fact, smoking is responsible for about 20% of all premature deaths in the developed world - in the US this translates to about 434,000 deaths a year (cocaine kills about 7000 a year in the US - about 1.6% as many deaths as tobacco. In fact all illegal drugs put together kill less than 5% of the people killed just by tobacco.) If people want to have an ocassional smoke that's fine by me - I've had a cigar or two in my day - but I'm very grateful it is banned in restaurants and pubs. I'm not the only one - the ban is supported by nearly 80% of the British public - an unprecedented mandate in public policy. Some of the smokers groups are moaning that beer sales will go down, because smokers will refuse to go to pubs, but I find that highly doubtful - smokers still go to malls, even if they can't smoke there, and in places where bans have been implemented, beer sales have not gone down. Furthermore, people like me will be going to the pub a lot more often now that the air is breathable. Hmm, that's a good idea... I'm thinking sooner rather than later.

The Guardian has a nice summary of the expected health benefits.

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