Escape Velocity

Smokingscot has his own blog, on which he periodically writes thoughtful essays. His latest starts with a telling observation:

I’ve often pondered what the real difference is between people who are unemployed and those who are “exiled” (to quote Ms Arnott of ASH). Semantics aside, there’s nothing in it. The unemployed may can’t spend money because they don’t have it, while the majority of smokers don’t spend money because they’ve got no place to spend it where they feel comfortable or get value for money. The effect on the economy is identical.

Isn’t that so true? What is the difference?

Recently I’ve been thinking I should spend more. I’ve got a full state pension these days, and I’m fairly flush with money. But what’s there to spend it on?

Smokingscot sets out all the little reductions in his own spending – pubs and cafes and restaurants no longer visited – consequent to the introduction of the smoking ban, and comes up with conservative estimate of a 2.2% reduction in GDP in the UK service sector:

The way I see it we most certainly have helped make the recession deeper and last longer than anything that’s gone before. We’ve wiped a minimum of just over 2.2% of GDP from the services sector and that will not change, of that I’m 100% certain. Yet it suits the economists and healthists to ignore that fact. The average Joe may have noticed a few pubs closing, one or two cafes change hands, or lying empty – and perhaps the odd bingo hall that’s shuttered. But he’d never believe that our not buying a few pints of beer, coffees, meals and sandwiches could be making such an impact.

That’s because they see us in the street puffing away and assume we do everything else exactly as we did before the ban. And why not? It’s a perfectly logical assumption. Average Joe thinks that, economists think that and politicians assume that as well. Fine, they don’t smoke, they see no reason whatsoever why we’ll do our level best to avoid paying their taxes on tobacco products, nor why we shun places where we feel uncomfortable lighting up and why, deep down, we simmer. Not in a negative way that’s destructive to us personally, no we simmer in a very healthy way, always seeking ways to defy the system. And for payback.

Reading this essay was like looking in a mirror. But I felt that there was a lot more that could be said.

Another effect of the smoking ban was that I stopped visiting doctors. I never really had any reason to visit them except to get sleeping tablets. But with the smoking ban, which has been driven by mad doctors in the high ranks of the medical profession, I started seeing the entire medical profession as enemies. This is almost certainly unfair, because I don’t doubt for a moment that many doctors aren’t virulent antismokers. But it remains the case that their profession has been co-opted by a bunch of elite antismokers. And so it’s been 10 years since I last saw a doctor, and 10 years since I bought a prescription, and 10 years since I last had a health check-up. Assuming that they’d roll their eyes and put me on about ten different expensive medications if I ever fetched up in front of them, I’ve completely vacated the pharma drug market. I’ve become a non-customer. And of course I never bought any NRT products either.

And also I stopped watching TV. And so stopped buying TV sets, and stopped paying for a TV licence. I’ve become a non-customer of the BBC and the TV retail business.

“Exile to the outdoors” is the very least of it. For me, the smoking ban meant complete expulsion from society. I’m unwelcome everywhere. I’m not just unwelcome in pubs and cafes and restaurants, but I’m unwelcome in cinemas, theatres, art galleries, museums, hotels, aircraft, trains, buses. And I’m unwelcome in France and Spain and pretty much every country in Europe. In fact, I’m unwelcome in pretty much every country in the world. So I’ve become a non-customer of all those places too. It’s now been 6 years since I last went outside the UK.

For the last few years I haven’t strayed further than 25 or 30 miles from my home. I only ever go anywhere in my car, and I always aim to be home by nightfall. The last thing I want to do is to have to stay in some horrid non-smoking hotel or B&B. And the result is that my garage told me a year or two back that “You don’t drive your car enough.”

It’s been a progressive withdrawal. It happened slowly. And it only ever gets deeper.

Some things that I still do:  I still shop in the little shops and supermarkets in my local town. And in summer I sit and drink very moderately outside one or other of the local pubs. And I still vote, and still write periodically to my MP. I’m actually rather surprised that I can still vote. It seems like a bit of an oversight to have so comprehensively expelled me from society, and yet allowed me to carry on voting. I expect one day to get an email from my MP to say that it has come to his attention that I am a smoker, and he is sorry to say he will no longer be able to respond to any further correspondence from me. Whyever not? My emails probably reek of Golden Virginia, and leave a trail of ash in his inbox.

So what is there to spend money on? Food and drink? I eat well enough already. Clothes, shoes? I don’t need them in my dressing gown and slippers at home. About the only things I regularly spend money on are books and computing equipment, both bought online. I spend much of my days sat in front of one computer or other, reading blogs, news, or playing online games, or developing my own computer programmes (today I got constellations visible in my 3D orbital simulation model!) And all the blogs and news and games and programming are available free. And my own blog costs me nothing either.

I somehow suspect that my departure as a customer from so many markets is costing the economy far more than a few hundred pounds a year.

I get the impression that the antismokers thought, like Sir George Godber, that smokers would be “petulant for a while” before rejoining the society from which they had been expelled, and continuing exactly where they left off. But, rather like some of the asteroids in my orbital simulation model, I seem to have achieved escape velocity, and I’m only ever moving further and further away. For I have no wish to rejoin their new, smoke-free utopia. I hate it. I utterly detest it. And I will always detest it.

I have no idea how many people there are like me. I suspect that there are rather a lot of us. People who have become profoundly alienated from almost everything as a result of smoking bans. Some more than me, some less. One day, I like to think, there will be a comprehensive survey, along the lines of the ISIS survey I helped conduct a few years ago, in which the full effects of smoking bans will at last be made manifest to oblivious economists and politicians and pundits. I suspect it will make shocking reading.

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About Frank Davis

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45 Responses to Escape Velocity

  1. cherie79 says:

    You are certainly not alone, I can’t spend my income as there are so few places to go now. I get tobacco and cigarettes from abroad, I don’t need to buy many clothes as I rarely go anywhere. The multiplier effect of this across the country must be huge but the powers that be are oblivious.

  2. NellB says:

    ‘Nail on the head!’ About a year ago, I was perplexed that I just seemed to be living quite comfortably on SO much less money every month; couldn’t spend it, so I also did a little thinking…I’ve been a DIY vaper for about three and a half years (but to me there’s no difference between vaping and smoking – it just suits me better and costs me less than £5/week), my friends are mostly smokers (mostly via the black market). Instead of going out every week, we now meet in each others’ homes, each bring some food and have a far better time too. That in it’s self saves a fortune! My view is – why should I pay someone, to eat/travel/stay somewhere that forbids enjoyment, so just in my small circle, that’s another half dozen people crashing the GDP, the effect across the country must be astronomical.

  3. Lepercolonist says:

    I love that term ‘escape velocity’ as it applies to smokers. Former acquaintances have gossiped that I am a monk now. Where am I to go now ? United States, Land of the Free, not anymore.

    • Frank Davis says:

      “Hermit” might be another word. It’s made me wonder whether the hermits of past ages weren’t people who had gone voluntarily to live in caves and deserts, but who had been expelled/exiled for some reason (almost certainly not smoking).

  4. Barry Homan says:

    I’m like you, Frank. If a business doesn’t want me smoking, then it means they don’t want my money, either. Tough luck! And since I don’t go out, it means I don’t feel the need to buy other things, flashy new clothes or whatever. I mainly push my money into my collecting hobby, so the mainstream commercial infrastructure rarely sees a dime from me.

  5. Lecroix says:

    You are not alone at all. My spending has been reduced by about 70% overall since the blanket smoking ban. At first, not spending was a form of “revenge”, but after the first year or so I realized it was just my “new life”.

    I have no need for any new clothes because I have nowhere to go. I don´t go to bars or restaurants, I avoid hotels, buses, trains and planes. No museums, no theaters, no cinemas. I might visit the local fair during summer, but the event is becoming more antismoking too every year. I buy all my tobacco abroad, at about 1/3 of the cost. All my reading/watching/listening is done online, so I don’t buy books, magazines, newspapers, cds or dvds.

    I did a quick calculation on how much I DON’T spend since the smoking ban:

    Tobaco: 50€/week———-2,600€/year
    Bars & Restaurants 150€/week———-7,800€/year
    Clothing 25€/week———-1,300€/year
    Gas 50€week———-2,600€/year
    Other (aprox.) ———-3,000€/year
    ___________
    TOTAL 17,300€/year

    Let’s make it an even, conservative, 15,000€ and multiply it by 5 years of smoking ban. That’s 75,000€ so far. The national economy is out 75,000€. And that’s just me.

    Now, roughly 12 million people smoke in Spain. Let’s assume they have reduced their yearly spending by only 10% of what I have reduced my spending. That’s 12 million x 1,500€/year = 18,000,000,000€/year

    Spain’s GDP in 2011 (the year the ban was imposed) was 1,488 billion aprox, so we are talking about a (conservative) 1.21% drop in GDP due to the smoking ban (actually, the GDP in 2012 was 10% lower than in 2011, official figures).

    Where’s all that money going? There’s roughly 25% unemployment in Spain now, so a big chunk is simply no longer being created. Salaries have gone down big time too, so that’s another piece of the pie that no longer exists. Another big chunk goes to illegal or foreign tobacco, up a gazillion since the ban. And whatever remains is either saved or spent some other way.

    So my conservative figure would be that the ban costs about 15 billion € a year or 1% of the GDP, at the very least.

    • Frank Davis says:

      And also I was a regular visitor to Spain for about 10 years (Barcelona and Galicia). Each time I came for a week or two, and would spend maybe one or two thousand euros on air flights, hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes, as well as buying a few odds and ends. After the Spanish smoking ban of January 2011, I never went back. It’s bad enough being unwelcome in one’s own country, never mind someone else’s.

      Junican still goes to Spain. And he’s a smoker. So it can’t be that all foreign smokers have stopped visiting. But if 20% of tourists were smokers, I’d guess that Spanish tourism dropped by 10% after 2011.

      • Lecroix says:

        It’s an appropriate response to de draconian smoking ban in Spain. Now, government figures say tourism is up since 2011. And it seems to be true. Spain benefited from political instability and terrorism in other touristic countries. Yet, spending is way down. The average tourist spends now much less than before the ban. Business owners complain of the “backpack and tin can tourism” that’s become common these days.

        Why are tourists not spending? I am sure the blanket smoking ban has a lot to do with it. After all, if I wanted to visit say London again, I would still go to the Natural History Museum but I would not eat or drink out. A backpack, some tin cans and supermarket beer, would be my choice for “going out” too.

        • Frank Davis says:

          Now, government figures say tourism is up since 2011. And it seems to be true. Spain benefited from political instability and terrorism in other touristic countries.

          I can well believe this. My non-smoking brother and his wife head off regularly all over the world. But in recent years the number of ‘safe’ places to go has dwindled. I haven’t kept tabs, but he seems to be visiting Europe more often than he used to.

          Yet, spending is way down. The average tourist spends now much less than before the ban. Business owners complain of the “backpack and tin can tourism” that’s become common these days.

          Well, if I was a smoker visiting Spain, I’d probably treat it the same way that I treat England. I’d find somewhere that I could smoke, and spend my time there. And that wouldn’t be the inside of restaurants or bars. What’s the point of not enjoying excellent food in restaurants because you can no longer smoke inside them? It’s no doubt cheaper (and more enjoyable), while visiting the Alhambra palace, to buy a few bocadillos y latas de San Miguel and sit smoking on a wall outside. I might even take a little folding chair with me, just in case there weren’t any convenient walls to sit on.

        • Lecroix says:

          My thoughts exactly. I have even adapted myself to the “botellón” phenomenon (young people buying supermarket booze and snacks that they consume in a nearby park while fiddling with their cell phones). It’s quite enjoyable, cheap and very free. Bocadillos and San Miguel? A feast fit for kings :D Who needs smokeless bars and restaurants anyway…:)

        • Frank Davis says:

          While we are discussing these matters, may I ask whether in Spain there’s anything like the disregard for smoking bans that Nisakiman reports in Greece? We Britons are very law-abiding people, and I never see ashtrays inside pubs or cafes in England (although I’ve heard reports that after hours the ashtrays appear in some places). But I can imagine that in Spain (e.g. the remote little Galician village with one single bar where I used to stay) the ban may well be ignored by locals.

        • Lecroix says:

          I can tell you what I have heard or experienced myself. I assume it’s more or less representative of the nation as a whole.

          I live in the North, in a very mountainous, very rainy region (Asturias, east of Galicia). Drinking and eating outside is only an option during summer and even then good weather is by no means guaranteed. Businesses have adapted to the situation by building terrasses, with a roof and four walls. They are everywhere and they are strictly illegal. The law only allows one roof and two walls or three walls, no roof for smoking areas. Yet bars and restaurants are not being fined for this illegal terrases because these structures pay an exorbitant amount of taxes year-round. Here’s one such place in town. Roof and walls can be folded in good weather and extended in bad weather. Even when fully extended (and thus being a totally enclosed space), smoking is allowed and city hall looks the other way: https://www.facebook.com/Blow-Up-Playa-374390426086190/

          Other places simply allow smoking after hours or whenever is safe to do so. Everybody, even I, knows places like that in town. In small villages, people inform me, flouting the ban is more common than in cities.

          As for sunny Spain well, I have been recently in Majorca and it’s like there’s no smoking ban. Everything is done outside, some bars don’t even have an “inside”. I suspect it was like that even before the ban. I also saw some cafeterías with illegal foldable terrasses. I was there in March so they were extended and closed on all sides. I saw English and German tourists happily enjoying their coffee and morning newspaper, while smoking in those enclosed spaces. There were no complains. People who preferred a smokeless environment were in the other “inside”.

          So, to sum up, there is plenty of picaresque, a traditional characteristic of the nation. It’s not too difficult for a visitor to find a comfortable, enclosed, illegal terrasse with all the amenities plus A/C or heaters if needed, in cities. Locals also have their favorite rebel bars, usually after hours. Small villages are much freer.

          It may sound too rosy perhaps, but I still think the blanket ban is unfair and has hurt businesses badly (those that can’t have terrasses) , up north most of all.

          For more in depth info about terrasses and ban flouting in general (in Spanish):

          https://lecroixkwdjer.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/paraiso-encontrado/

          https://lecroixkwdjer.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/hosteleros-y-ley-antitabaco-el-ciego-y-el-picaro-i/

          https://lecroixkwdjer.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/1200/

          https://lecroixkwdjer.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/desde-la-terraza/

        • Frank Davis says:

          Thanks for that. I did get the impression that in the cities the law was adhered to more closely, but with all sorts of ways being tried to get around it.

      • nisakiman says:

        But if 20% of tourists were smokers, I’d guess that Spanish tourism dropped by 10% after 2011.

        Maybe they all come here now, and that’s why I see such a high percentage of Brits here who are smokers (I’d estimate anywhere from 40% to 60% of adult Brit tourists here are smokers). They have, as you say, stopped going to places they aren’t welcome.

        The smoking ban here is theoretically draconian, but in practice it just doesn’t really exist. Ashtrays are ever-present parts of the furniture almost everywhere you go.

        Even Athens airport, although non-smoking inside, has a large, comfortable and well ventilated smoking room right in the centre of the departure area where the check-in desks are, plus a nice café and lots of seating (and plenty of large ashtrays which are regularly emptied by the cleaners, so no butts on the ground) just outside the terminal.

        Smoking in Greece is still considered very much ‘normal’; the ‘denormalisers’ have made absolutely no headway here at all.

        • Frank Davis says:

          Smoking in Greece is still considered very much ‘normal’; the ‘denormalisers’ have made absolutely no headway here at all.

          I wonder why that is? Is Greece the only place?

        • nisakiman says:

          I don’t really know, Frank. It’s something of a paradox, insofar as the bureaucracy here is positively Byzantine, and there are insane rules and regulations for businesses which are enforced quite strictly – rules and regulations which throttle the economy more than any external factors. (Although having said that, tax evasion and bending the rules are something of a national sport.) And yet on the other hand, when it comes to laws which people see as interfering with their right to self-determination, those laws are flouted quite blatantly. Even though, for instance, if you get stopped for not wearing a helmet on a bike the fine is an eye-watering €350 (€175 if you pay within 10 days), the majority of riders won’t wear them. Likewise seat belts. And smoking comes into the same category. People here just don’t see it as the State’s role to dictate to them their personal choices.

  6. Lecroix says:

    Reblogged this on Contra la ley "antitabaco" and commented:
    Mi propio cálculo del dinero que se pierde debido a la ley del tabaco, está en el comentario que he dejado en esta entrada de Frank Davis. Estimo que la ley destruye aproximadamente el 1% del Producto Interior Bruto nacional al año. Es un cálculo yo creo que muy conservador, fácilmente podría ser el doble o más. Podéis echar un vistazo también a los cálculos que hace Smokingscot. El enlace está al principio del artículo de Frank.

  7. I think there are millions like us Frank. I am the same. If you do a poll – or such a thing, ask your readers to promote it on social media. You would get more realistic results – maybe. I do think, this loss to the economy is mostly from us – “the inconveniently ageing population”. Young people are all products of social engineering and think how it is now, is normal. They are completely hooked into the consumer economy too. My husband and I are the consumer economy nightmare – we repair, buy second hand, lust for nothing offered in glossy advertising, eat at home because Mr Furlong’s cooking is fantastically better than the exhausted cuisine that we can get out. And we get a real delight in being frugal. Or is it a symptom of old age?

    The smoking ban was one of the causes of discovering how nice home is. I am the smoker (actually vaper) and I simply retired from society. Can’ smoke/vape? Won’t go.

    • Frank Davis says:

      If you do a poll

      What question would the poll be asking?

      • Poll questions? I know nothing about devising a Poll!

        Are you – Over sixty? Yes/No
        Do you remember – when people could smoke indoors? Yes/No
        Do you think there should be indoor smoking rooms for smokers? Yes/No
        If smokers were considered by having their own spaces, would you go to them? Yes/No
        Do you go out (say more than twice a week) to places where people once could smoke? Yes/No
        Do you mostly entertain at home? Yes?No
        Do you spend less money on going out since the smoking bans? Yes/No
        Have you got more money to spend on going out since the smoking bans? Yes?No
        Do you think the smoking bans have negatively affected your social life? Yes/No
        Do you think the smoking bans have positively affected you social life? Yes?No
        Since the smoking bans, do you socialise more than you used to? Yes/No
        Since the smoking bans, do you socialise less than you used to? Yes?No
        Have the smoking bans isolated you socially? Yes?No
        Have the smoking bans made you more sociable? Yes/No
        Do you smoke yourself? Yes/No

        I dunno – something simple really……….

      • smokingscot says:

        @ Frank

        You did a poll a couple of months before the ISIS survey. In fact that was what lead to the survey – and it had several questions with a yes or no answer – if memory serves.

        In addition to what TLF suggests, I’d be very interested to know how our attitudes have changed toward politicians and the establishment – and whether we go out of our way to avoid paying UK duty on our smokes. So:

        Has your opinion of the government gone up or down since they introduced the smoking ban?

        Have you ever asked a relative, friend, workmate due to go on holiday to bring back low cost tobacco, for which you will reimburse them?

        Do you regularly buy tobacco that you know to be non UK Duty Paid?

        Are you a member of a smoky drinky or shed pub?

        Are you aware of pubs that do “lock-ins” in your area?

        Bit rough I admit, but that’s the thrust of it.

        Ta for the heads up – much food for thought generated here.

  8. junican says:

    At the time of the smoking ban, I was going to the pub nine times a week – Saturday and Sunday after playing golf, and after one pint in the club, I would call at the pub near my house and have a couple of pints. Every evening, I went for a beer, averaging abut three pints per evening. The pub was generally busy and convivial. Now I go to the pub three times per week (Wed, Fri and Sun) and have precisely seven pints.
    Counting up the costs, at the time of the ban, I was drinking about 25 pints per week. At today’s prices, that would be around £75 per week. Now I drink 7 pints which comes to £21 per week, saving £56 per week. Times 50 approx equals £2800 per an. What do I drink instead? I drink red wine at home.
    I buy my wine in 3 litre boxes. My consumption is around two and a half boxes per week. The boxes cost around £15 each, so I pay about £37 per week, which equals £1800 per year. So my net savings per an is around £1000. But note that, because I am drinking at home, which I rarely used to do, I am drinking more alcohol than ever. My change of habits has been gradual over the years.
    All the other things also apply to me. In addition, I source my tobacco from elsewhere, much of it from Spain. I avoid paying UK tobacco taxes like the plague.I was in Mallorca for a week in April. The weather was sunny all week but got rather chilly at night. Shorts and teeshirts during the day, trousers and a jersey or coat at night. I was totally comfortable sitting outside at my favourite bars, watching the antics of the yoof, reading during the day and playing chess on my electronic chess set at night. Even there, my costs are less than they used to be. For example, I used to skip breakfast in favour of a lie-in. Now I get up every morning and make breakfast a feast with the consequence that I pay little for food during the day. My habits have changed a lot when I am there. Now, the holiday is much more intent upon relaxation than fun. I shall be going three times this year, and on every trip, I save about £1000 in duty taxes. I don’t deduct the cost of the holidays since I would be going anyway while my daughters look after their Mum for me (she has MS).
    A long comment, but necessary. How many other people are doing the same thing? We cannot know because no one collects such statistics.

  9. Timothy Goodacre says:

    Of course the other thing about Greece is they have the wonderful George Karelias cigarettes made in Kalamata. Superb !

    • nisakiman says:

      Yes, the Greeks are justifiably proud of their tobacco, and it’s a big part of the agronomic landscape of the country. It’s part of their culture, which could perhaps go some way to explaining why the anti-smokers have never gained much of a foothold here.

      It must also make it a tad difficult for TC the fact that the Greeks have the highest per capita consumption of cigarettes in the world, and yet are also in the top echelons of the world for longevity. It’s a bit awkward, really. Those bloody Greeks should be dying young, not living to a ripe old age!

      • Timothy Goodacre says:

        Exactly. In the UK i smoke George Karelias Excellence which i love. I used to be able to buy their Plain unfiltered Ovals but these are no longer available unfortunately.

  10. Joe Jackson says:

    There are still some very smoking-friendly places in Europe. The best, in my experience, are the Czech Republic and Austria. Berlin is great too (though not all of Germany).

    Next to that are countries with pretty general smoking bans, but significant exceptions or exemptions – i.e., some small bars allow smoking, and quite a few places have smoking rooms – you need to do a bit of research and/or have a bit of luck. Those countries include The Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, and Portugal.

    Next are countries which have total smoking bans, but which are much better set up for outside smoking than the UK, where again with a bit of research, you can find very comfortable almost completely enclosed, well-heated spaces, and a more tolerant attitude. Those countries include France, Ireland, and perhaps Spain.

    In a category of its own, apparently, is Greece, which has a total ban but everyone ignores it. Why there is none of that kind of defiance in the UK, and why the UK has the most draconian ban, are questions I’ve asked myself over and over, and can never completely answer.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Why there is none of that kind of defiance in the UK, and why the UK has the most draconian ban, are questions I’ve asked myself over and over

      I think it’s because Britons are (generally) law-abiding, and believe in the rule of law. We might hate the law, but we’ll still abide by it. And I think this is true of most of northern Europe, and has something to do with a Protestant heritage. The same values were transplanted to the USA (and most Commonwealth countries).

      But this belief in the primacy of the law isn’t shared elsewhere.

      • nisakiman says:

        I think it’s because Britons are (generally) law-abiding, and believe in the rule of law.

        You’re probably right there, Frank. And yet on the other hand, although the Greeks don’t have much regard for laws and regulations, they are much more honest on the whole than the British. There is very little crime here, and a great deal of trust. For instance I remember one time a couple of years ago when I had only a €500 note, and nothing smaller. I went to the petrol station and filled up, presented the note, and was told that they didn’t have change for it. “Come back tomorrow and pay”, I was told. I went to several other shops and bought stuff, each time getting the same response, and each time walking away with the goods without paying for them. It didn’t occur to any of the places I went to that I might not come back to settle my bills.

        I can’t imagine that happening in UK.

      • “But this belief in the primacy of the law isn’t shared elsewhere.”

        But remember: “An unjust law is no law at all.” — Augustine of Hippo, “On Free Choice Of The Will” Book One, Section 5

        and

        “I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

        – MJM

    • Furtive Ferret says:

      I’ll second the Czech Republic for indoor smoking. Interestingly cigs are as cheap as chips, price of pipe tobacco is on a par with the U.K. which makes it very expensive for the average Czech.

      They’re still allowed to openly advertise tobacco too.

      Last time I looked they have a smoking ban bill going through thief parliament.

    • smokingscot says:

      @ Joe

      Seldom noticed are my lists of places where you can smoke in Amsterdam, Brussels, Turin and Bruges. They may come in handy.

      http://www.mullingscot.com/smoking-allowed-amsterdam-brussels-bruges-turin-nyc-ireland.html?

    • jaxthefirst says:

      Joe, I think that one reason why our politicians made the UK ban so draconian and unyielding was simply because they could, because of the uniquely personally-important role that the British pub plays/played in the lives of its customers. With a customers’ continued patronage of their “local” being highly dependent on their not pissing off their landlord/landlady, who can, if they so choose, bar them in the blink of an eye for any reason they wish (or for no reason at all), landing the pub with a fine of many thousands of pounds would be a sure-fire way of pissing them off, big time. So, by ensuring that the person who pays the heftiest price for someone else committing the “offence” of smoking in a pub is the landlord, they pretty much ensured that customers would comply. One wonders – if the only penalty for smoking in a pub had been the paltry £50 cited in the Health Act, to be applied direct upon the smoker concerned, would compliance have been so high? I suspect not. I for one would have taken my chances, and would have willingly forked out the £50 on a “fair cop, guv” basis, in the unlikely event that I got caught.

      Others may correct me on here, but my suspicion is that the only other set-up in the world which comes close to the traditional British pub in terms of the way its customers view it, is the French café – and I’m not even certain that that’s quite the same either (perhaps a French resident could confirm or correct this). The impression that I get is that in most other countries, e.g. Spain, Italy, Greece, the USA etc, there is much less establishment-loyalty and the whole scenario of being one of an establishment’s “regulars” is much less of a big “thing,” from a customer point of view, in the bars, taverns and other watering-holes there. In short, people in other countries might like their local bar, but in Britain, regulars really love their local pub, and it’s this feature which has allowed the British authorities to impose such a draconian law upon its people. Other countries have had to be a little more flexible in their approach because that very strong threat (of, effectively, getting a mate – because that’s often how landlords/landladies are viewed by their regulars – into trouble) simply isn’t available to them.

    • prog says:

      ‘Why there is none of that kind of defiance in the UK, and why the UK has the most draconian ban, are questions I’ve asked myself over and over, and can never completely answer.’

      It seems to be closely related to the level of PH influence on government. Probably very limited in Greece, whose citizens have not dumbed down to the point of believing almost everything TC cares to spoon-feed them.

  11. Furtive Ferret says:

    A lot of interesting comment here. My own situation is very similar.

    To put this in context: I gave up cigarettes around 1990 and except for the odd cigar rarely smoked even when out. Part of the going out to a pub or restaurant was to enjoy the convivial company of my friends who did smoke.

    When the ban came in the social life disappeared almost immediately. About three years ago I returned to smoking but this time a pipe in protest at the ban which I had expected to be relaxed by now . I’ve always been a bit of a contrarian.

    For the first time in a long time I went out in Stroud a couple of weeks ago and the first thing that struck me was just how empty and soulless the pubs were. They should have been heaving but there was only a handful of people in each. I won’t be venturing back to a pub anytime soon. Why would I when I can enjoy a pipe and drink on my own patio?

  12. Timothy Goodacre says:

    Me neither. Why we all obey in the UK I just don’t know. We are bonkers.

    • Rose says:

      We aren’t bonkers, we believe in the rule of law and are waiting for such a wicked and unfair law to be repealed as it surely must be someday. We don’t usually catch these fashionable madnesses from other countries, we are usually more measured, I wonder what happened this time? It’s a very long time since I heard anyone say “it could only happen in America” then again it’s a very long time since I heard anyone say “it’s free country” here.

  13. The Blocked Dwarf says:

    Youngest son got married a year ago. Before the wedding he came over one evening to ask, with some trepidation, if I would still come to the Wedding Breakfast as it was being held in a licensed public venue.
    That’s how seriously i take boycotting the businesses that told me they didn’t want me custom. I have ventured into a pub less than a handful of times since 07 and then only to meet someone I couldn’t meet elsewhere.

    Of course I attended the Wedding Reception, i’m zealous not a zealot, and stood outside with all the other smokers, including the groom, the best man, the bride’s father, the photographer and about 2/3’s of the guests.

    • Bandit 1 says:

      I wonder if any TC people ever read these comments (we know they keep tabs on dangerous subversives like Frank) and feel any iota of shame or regret. The scene you describe is so absolutely crazy, and so typical of this crazy law.

      • jaxthefirst says:

        “Shame or regret,” Bandit? Goodness me – certainly not! These people wouldn’t know shame or regret if they drove too fast round a sharp bend and ran over a party of schoolchildren! To feel either shame or regret one has to have a heart and a soul, and anti-smoking health zealots have shown time and again that they have neither!

  14. jaxthefirst says:

    On the money thing, I have to echo all the other commenters on here. I have become actively reclusive since the smoking ban came in. I actively avoid going anywhere where I know I will be treated worse than other punters (despite paying the same amount) and where I know I will either have to stand outside like a naughty kid every hour or so or, if I “conform” and don’t smoke, the event – whatever it is – will become something to be endured rather than something to be enjoyed. Neither of which is the greatest encourager for me to go out and splash good money whatever the event in question might be – theatre, cinema, party, pub, restaurant, holiday, B&B break etc.

    On the few occasions (usually family “do’s”) when I really can’t avoid going somewhere without appearing rude, I’ll inevitably offer to drive. My generous-sounding reason is to give other people the chance to have a drink or two, but my real reason is that, if it all just gets too awful to continue with, I can pretty much draw the event to a close by saying that it’s about time we were off – because, as everyone knows, once one person (or couple) “makes the break,” usually several others will go at the same time. I’ve never yet been to an event where we leave, but everyone else in the group stays on, eating or drinking or dancing or whatever – that’s just not how group social events “work,” is it? Thus, as well as spending less money myself, the smoking ban means that all the non-smoking event-attenders tend to spend less, too, because they go home at the same time as we do.

    On the plus side, though, my bank balance has never been so healthy! And until the ban is at least relaxed to give me some incentive to start spending again, that situation doesn’t look likely to change.

  15. Pingback: The Shattered Society | Frank Davis

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