Readers will be glad to hear that Macedonia is the most recent country to adopt a modern, progressive smoking ban. In fact the ban is even more modern and progressive than the UK ban: not only can’t you smoke inside pubs and restaurants, but you can’t smoke outside them either.
As expected, the forward-looking ban was greeted enthusiastically by Macedonians:
“The law is good and shouldn’t be changed,” Skopje resident Zoran Stefanovski told SETimes. “Several days ago I was having lunch with my family at a restaurant, and we really enjoyed it because there was no smoke… #
However, by mid-January there were some signs of disquiet from backward and uneducated petits-bourgeois bar and restaurant proprietors:
Opposition MPs Vlado Buckovski and Gorgji Orovcanec began collecting signatures in parliament to initiate a procedure to amend the law. #
Nevertheless Deputy Prime Minister vowed not to back down before these malcontents:
The long-term economic effects from such measures would pay off, even if the hospitality industry shed profits in the short term, said Pesevski, who is deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs. #
Speaking in solidarity, Health Minister Bujar Osmani grittily added:
Unfortunately by 23 January, amid clear signs of interference by foreign reactionary elements (see emphases below), smouldering minority discontent had been fanned into flame:
The landlords say the ban has driven away their customers, dealing a severe blow to their business. The association of restaurateurs, who organized the protest, made it clear that it is not about being pro-smoking but about the freedom to choose. The association demands amendments to the law that would suit both groups of customers.
“We warn that the anti-smoking law is likely to result in closure of pubs and restaurants, staff layoffs and utter collapse of the sector,” the head of the association, Darko Danilov told press on Thursday.
He said that business dropped 40 to 70 percent.#
“This is nightmare. The law is too strict so it has become a torture for smokers,” 50-year-old lawyer Bojan Ivanov told AFP outside his office, cigarette in hand.
(Comrade Ivanov appears to be blinkeredly unaware that the ban is supposed to torture smokers. Macedonian smokers must learn that there is no place for them in progressive, forward-looking, smoke-free Macedonia, even if half of all 2 million Macedonians are smokers.)
Unfortunately, in the face of this foreign-sponsored and undoubtedly Tobacco-Industry-funded so-called ‘spontaneous’ uprising, Macedonia’s politicians appear to already be buckling:
Any amendment, just one month after the ban came into force, would be a humiliating defeat for the forces of progress and the unstoppable forward march of history.
In this dark hour, and for the sake of the children, I call upon far-sighted progressives of every kind to personally appeal to the President of the Macedonian Assembly, Trajko Veljanoski, to resist heroically any attempt to amend or repeal the Macedonian smoking ban.
We in Britain are fortunate to not have any opposition party in our parliament, where Gordon Brown and David Cameron and the other chap stand shoulder to shoulder in support of a slightly less progressive UK smoking ban. Our hospitality industry is also thoroughly progressive and advanced in its outlook, and is able to shrug off the closure of 52 pubs a week. We are probably also lucky that smokers constitute a mere 25% or less of the UK population, and so form an easily-liquidated deviant antisocial underclass. The population of Macedonia is also less than the population of Greater Manchester (2.2 million), and so the Macedonian ban has almost the character of a local UK regional ban. The more local a ban, the easier is it for resistance to mobilised, and for bans to be overturned, as Macedonia is now demonstrating (like Croatia last year). Progressive antismokers should therefore aim to introduce bans at a national or preferably EU level, where they are inherently less likely to be rapidly overturned by pressure from so-called ‘democratic’ populist revanchists. One of the truly advanced features of a post-democratic EU is that it’s next to impossible for grassroot political groups to gain pan-European support, because the grassroots all speak different languages. This allows progressive new legislation to take a firm root, and permits public health and other experts to do what they know how to do best, which is to run everybody else’s life for them.