Dreaming of a Bad Dream Over

Sunny day today. Sunny and windless. In what seems to have been a constant-gale-force winter, that was a very rare combination.

So, chancing my luck, I parked outside one of my local pubs, wondering if it might just be possible to endure half an hour in its empty garden.

If the garden was empty, then so was the pub. It had just one customer propped up at the end of the bar. All the tables were empty inside, just like outside. But what do you expect in England in early March.

These days, I’m always slightly anxious when I return to a pub after a five or six month absence. It may have changed hands. It may have been redecorated. And since smoking was banned inside, I always half-expect it to be banned outside as well. Setting a bad example or something. And large No Smoking signs screwed onto the tables and chairs, and maybe even painted on the lawns. And if anyone lit up, an irate barman would come out and tell you that We Don’t Want Your Sort Here.

And if not the smoking, then the drinking. No, we don’t sell beer or lager any more. New EU regulations. But we have a good range of non-alcoholic fruit juices. And we do milk shakes and ice cream sodas, and tea and coffee. No, we don’t sell crisps or peanuts any more either.

But very little had changed. A couple of new taps had been installed. One was for a Czech lager I’d never seen before. Havel or Kavel or something. So I ordered one, and stepped outside to find the most sunlit and sheltered table in the garden, and lit up a small Cohiba.

No alarms sounded. No pack of dogs descended on me. No barman came out to remonstrate. There weren’t any No Smoking signs either.

And I relaxed. And felt the warm sun glowing on my skin. And sipped the fruity Czech lager, and pulled on the Cohiba, and gazed across the overgrown lawn at the distant trees until my eyes lost focus and it all became a happy, hazy blur.

Maybe there’s something in all this Global Warming tosh after all? March 7 is pretty much mid-winter in England. Last year it was late March before I returned to the local pub gardens, like some migrating bird just back from North Africa. It hasn’t been a cold winter round these parts. It’s been a very wet and windy winter.

One day I hope to return in the Spring to find that the pubs are chock full of people eating and drinking and smoking and laughing again. And when I ask about it, I’ll be told that the ban had been repealed a few months earlier. Hadn’t I heard about the big scandal when the WHO had been closed down, and quite a few people sent to prison for fraud? No, I guess I missed it. And then I’ll sit on a bar stool, gazing through the welcoming veil of smoke, not really believing that this long bad dream is really over, and wondering if it actually was just that all along: a bad dream.

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20 Responses to Dreaming of a Bad Dream Over

  1. Smoking Lamp says:

    The move toward prohibition of smoking is a bad dream. I too hope it won’t last. I wait every day to see someone stand up against the propaganda and speak the truth about tobacco control. Yet each day it seems to get worse. New bans are put forward and rarely rejected. The beginnings of expanding the prohibition to alcohol are now being seen. I know it will fall apart, but the question is when.

  2. Barry Homan says:

    We just got more snow in Denmark a day ago. It melted away, but still cold outside. The fraudsters will get their due, one day. Or they’ll just slip through the cracks, and go hide back inside their cesspools, safe from public scrutiny. The tide is turning. Nothing lasts for good.

  3. Timothy Goodacre says:

    Its a lovely vision you paint Frank of a wonderful pub full of happy smokers enjoying themselves as in the pre 2007 days. Remember the lovely flow of conversation and the terrific conviviality. I do !
    Now in my area in the South we just have empty pubs, no conversation, and bored bar staff. There is no excitement. And guess what, all those non smokers who said they would go back to pubs if smoking were banned, have failed to materialise. This of course is because they are all miserable bastards who prefer to watch telly at home with their supermarket bottle of wine. I think in my street of approx. 100 houses there is only my wife and I who regularly go to a pub. They were quite happy though to stop us enjoying ourselves. Smoking bans must be opposed and disobeyed.

    • Frank Davis says:

      miserable bastards who prefer to watch telly at home with their supermarket bottle of wine.

      I can’t imagine they do that, now that alcohol is touted as being as carcinogenic as tobacco. You must mean fruit juice, surely.

  4. Rose says:

    Smoking ban does not apply to prison in England and Wales, court rules
    08 Mar 2016

    “Judges agree the Crown is not bound by the smoking ban legislation”

    Prison smoking ban overturned by court of appeal

    “Government lawyers had argued that a compulsory ban could cause discipline problems and risk staff and prisoner safety”

    Well done Michael Gove, common sense at last.

    • Rose says:


      Smoking ban could risk staff and inmate safety at state-run prisons like Dartmoor, claims Government
      February 15th 2016

      “A “particularly vigorous” ban on smoking in state-run prisons such as Dartmoor could cause discipline problems and risk the safety of staff and prisoners, the Government has told the Court of Appeal.

      Justice Secretary Michael Gove is challenging a High Court declaration that the legal ban on smoking in public places applies to state prisons and all Crown premises in England and Wales.”

    • prog says:

      Don’t get too excited, it’s only a temporary reprieve…

      ‘MoJ sources said the ruling would not affect the phased introduction of the ban on smoking in prisons in England and Wales. It will eventually be implemented in all 136 prisons in England and Wales.

      A Prison Service spokesperson said: “The result of this appeal means we are able to roll out smoke-free prisons in a safe and secure way. While the Health Act 2006 will not legally bind the crown properties, including prisons, the smoking ban will be implemented as a matter of policy.’

      The underlying agenda continues (though possibly open to legal challenge)

      • junican says:

        I think that there may be something important in the judgement nevertheless, Prog. It implies that not all ‘public places’ are the same. Prisons are ‘public places’, even in cells, if two inmates share a cell. The judgement has declared that, even though they are ‘public places’, they are not subject to the Health Act. That is quite important, in my opinion. It could eventually lead to other places being excepted – like pub smoking rooms!

        • Rose says:

          I wonder when it will be entirely safe and completely secure to roll out a smoking ban in prisons?

  5. Smoking Lamp says:

    Maybe some are starting to stir? Casper, Wyoming just repealed its bar smoking ban: “Light up: Casper repeals smoking ban for bars: http://www.union-bulletin.com/news/light-up-casper-repeals-smoking-ban-for-bars/article_9eeaaf1e-e54f-11e5-beac-10604b9f7e7c.html Of course the new report tries to downplay the development, and the antis are likely to try and force a new ban, but the tobacco control monolith is cracking.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Sorry, the page you’re looking for cannot be found.


      The page may have moved, you may have mistyped the address, or followed a bad link.

      Thy yanked our comments first then by 2pm they pulled the story too! lol

  6. Rose says:

    A quick recap on the prison situation.

    The UK having signed up to the FCTC in 2003 and ratified it in 2004 –

    The Parties to this Convention

    “Recognize that scientific evidence has unequivocally established that exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability, and that there is a time lag between exposure to smoking and the other uses of tobacco products and the onset of tobacco-related diseases.”

    Click to access 9241591013.pdf

    – And the date of guilty knowledge procured by ASH having obtained legal advice, now passed

    “In a legal opinion obtained by ASH, J. Melville Williams QC suggests that not only has the date of guilty knowledge passed for employers, but also for the Health & Safety Executive and Commission.”

    “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as reasonable practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.’

    Section 2(2)(e) of the 1974 Act places a specific duty on the employer in respect of employees:

    ‘to provide and maintain a safe working environment which is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe, without risks to health and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work.’

    It would seem that the Government, like the pubs, now realised that it appeared to be liable for every one of the hundreds of alleged “smoking related” ailments that an employee can possibly develop in a lifetime no matter how long it takes them to do it.

    You remember they – “Recognize that scientific evidence has unequivocally established that exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability, and that there is a time lag between exposure to smoking and the other uses of tobacco products and the onset of tobacco-related diseases.”

    And the prison officers and inmates have realised it too.

    • Rose says:

      As confirmed by Deborah Arnott

      Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity ASH said:

      “The evidence is clear, the level of tobacco smoke in prisons is so high it is harmful to the health of staff and inmates, which exposes the Government to compensation claims.

      “This is the driving force behind the Ministry of Justice decision to roll out a smoking ban in all prisons in England and Wales and the Black judgment will make no difference to that decision.”

      – Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity ASH

  7. Rose says:

    Or was it the canteen all along?

    Are CARBS the new cigarettes? White bread, bagels and rice ‘increase the risk of lung cancer by 49%’, experts warn
    7th March 2016

    “Many studies suggest that consuming carbohydrates is bad for your waistline.

    Now, a new study has revealed carbohydrates may also be bad for your lungs.

    Specifically, foods with a high glycemic index – such as white bread or bagels, corn flakes and puffed rice – may increase the risk of lung cancer, scientists say.

    Non-smokers, who account for 12 per cent of those killed by the disease, appear to be particularly at risk.”

  8. Pingback: All Fool Down – Library of Libraries

  9. Clicky says:

  10. Pingback: Creeping Prison Smoking Ban? | Frank Davis

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