Last year on May 1st I was interviewed by China TV to get a UK perspective on their restrictions on smoking in public. It was interesting that the reporter said that in China that you cannot say what you like but you can do what you like.
Being the national TV service no doubt there was a line to follow. I did not say the best thing to do was not to start. I do believe smoking can be bad for you, bit if you have made an informed choice the state should leave you alone. The video is in the link and the article is afterwards.
“As China’s new smoking laws come into affect, CCTV Correspondent Jack Barton takes a look at how the British have reacted to tough anti-smoking laws introduced four years ago.
The English love the outdoors.
That’s an especially good thing if you are an English smoker, because that’s about the only place you can light up these days.
It’s illegal to smoke here in almost all public buildings.
No smoking signs are everywhere and the ban is now widely accepted.
That wasn’t the case when the laws were introduced four years ago by the then Labor Government.
Jack Barton, London, said, “Britain’s anti-smoking laws were a highly divisive issue in 2007 even amongst the political party that introduced them. Many Labor politicians fought for broad exemptions but in the end very few were allowed. They included in prisons, hotel rooms and of course parliament house”.
Since then politicians have voluntarily imposed a ban in the seat of government to prevent a public outcry.
The government says the new laws help reduce cancer caused by passive smoke and also make restaurants and the lounge areas of bars more family friendly.
But not everyone is convinced.
David Atherton is a spokesman for Freedom to Choose.
He freely admits smoking is bad for a person’s health and advises people not to do it.
But he also argues that the science on passive smoking is thin and that the hospitality industry has been hit hard by the ban.
David Atherton, Spokesman of Freedom to Choose, said, “Fifteen percent of pubs have closed… that’s ten thousand pubs, 150,000 jobs, that’s full and part time, have been lost alone in the pub industry. Also gambling halls like bingo and nightclubs have closed at an alarming rate in this country”.
It’s unclear how many of those bar and gambling venue closures are linked to the ban or a general slump in the British economy.
And not all smokers agree the ban is a bad thing anyway.
Ben Young, Smoker, said, “It’s been good in some ways because obviously we are going out not smoking so much and I think overall it’s been a good thing for England as a whole.
Agniszka Young, Smoker, said, “It helps us to smoke a little bit less as well which is good”.
The government says about thirty people die every day in Britain from smoking related illnesses.
It will take many years before doctors will know if the smoking ban will reduce those terrible statistics.
In the meantime Britain seems to have learned to live with smoking outdoors, and the argument that it would lead to the complete collapse of the hospitality industry has largely gone up in smoke.”