I’m posting up a comment by Rose. First Sir George Godber:
“Godber recollected that he had said in 1962 to Keith Joseph, another of his Conservative ministers, that “we really have to do something about abolishing smoking”
“Godber replied: “No, but I want to see it reduced to an activity of consenting adults in private.”
“Need there really be any difficulty about prohibiting smoking in more public places?
The nicotine addicts would be petulant for a while, but why should we accord them any right to make the innocent suffer?”
Then columnist Melanie Reid writing in the Times in June 2007, a month before the UK smoking ban came into effect:
“There will be no trouble at all. The smokers, meek as lambs, will either stand obediently outside or refrain from smoking”
“As you stand outside your pub or your club or your restaurant, or even your friend’s dinner party, you will find you have become part of a sad, excluded, sheepish army of no-hopers, the huddled masses who loiter, sucking deeply on their drug of choice.”
Now it seems to have gone horribly wrong. The “addicts” are more than petulant and will never forgive either them or their political allies.
The drugs don’t work, the pubs started shutting shortly after the ban and haven’t stopped since, now there’s the problem of e-cigs and above all else the constant and unrelenting stress of pretending it’s all been a “Huge Success”
In addition, Melanie Reid wrote:
“And that, dear smokers, is the great alienation that you face. In the reborn, smoke-free England, prepare to become perceived as a relic. You’ve been left behind. Worse than that, you must prepare to be regarded as, well . . . ever so slightly down-market.
And of course earlier in 2007, ASH’s Deborah Arnott wrote:
Smokers will be exiled to the outdoors.
They all knew what was going to happen. Smokers were going to be exiled to the outdoors. They were going to become a sad, excluded, sheepish army of no-hopers. They would face great alienation.
That’s a terrible, terrible thing to do to anyone. And it’s far, far worse that it was going to be done to millions of people.
Didn’t any of them ever ask: Is this the right thing to do? Ought we really to be doing this?
Did they not know what it was like to be exiled, to be excluded, and to be alienated?
And if they knew that smokers were going to be exiled to the outdoors, they must have also foreseen that this would separate the smokers outside from their non-smoking friends inside, and so divide communities. And if they knew that smokers were going to be exiled to the outdoors, they must have foreseen that many smokers would stop going to pubs and cafes and restaurants, and that the hospitality trade would suffer badly. It was all entirely foreseeable.
And so they can’t ever claim that these were ‘unintended consequences’. They knew what was going to happen, and yet they went ahead and did it anyway.
It’s really rather surprising, given that it seems to have been common knowledge among the cognoscenti, that the BBC didn’t announce on 1 July 2007 that “smokers were exiled to the outdoors today, becoming a sad, excluded, sheepish army of no-hopers facing great alienation.” Because the BBC must have known too. And all the politicians as well.
The only thing that they seem not to have known is that, as Melanie Phillips reported, while ASH was hoping that nearly half of the remaining smokers would give up smoking as a consequence of the ban, few actually did.
And so now there’s a 10-million-strong army of sad, excluded, alienated, exiled smokers in Britain. And probably everywhere else that smoking bans have been enacted in the world.
And that’s a ticking time bomb. Because sooner or later that sadness and alienation and exclusion is going to find its expression – particularly when accompanied by anger and determination.
As Rose says, it’s all gone horribly wrong. The smoking ban was supposed to relegate smoking to “an activity for consenting adults in private.” By now they should have been mopping up the last remnants of the ‘no-hopers’. But no such thing has happened. Smokers are as numerous as ever, and as visible as ever.
And now we have a divided society.