Well, that’s enough excitement for one week. In fact, enough excitement for an entire year.
But has it got us anywhere nearer repealing smoking bans?
I think it has, in an important way. The wave of European smoking bans over the past decade were almost all instigated via the UN, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), and the EU. In this last respect, H/T Rose for The Help Programme 2005-2007 moving towards a smoke-free Europe which told us that:
The European Union has made the fight against smoking one of its top public health priorities…
On the 1st March 2005, the European Commission launched a large media campaign, aimed at tobacco prevention and cessation, in the, then, 25 European Union Member States. Today, in all the 27 EU countries, the European Commission’s campaign “HELP – For a life without tobacco” is one of the largest public health awareness-raising initiatives ever organised in the world. The general motto of the campaign is providing “Help and support”. The “Help” campaign aims to offer help not to take up tobacco, help to resist peer pressure, or help to address passive smoking.
In fact, in November 2004 the UK had signed the FCTC, and Sir Charles George of the BMA and BHF had called for a public smoking ban. All over Europe, civil servants had begun working on smoking ban legislation.
(Rose has today turned up a far earlier EU Council resolution – in July 1989 – to ban smoking in enclosed premises open to the public.)
But all of this was essentially an exercise in top-down control of the peoples of Europe by the EU and UN and WHO. There was nothing democratic about it. It was something imposed on them from above by legislators, doctors, scientists, and assorted experts, who knew better than them what was good for them. They themselves were not consulted.
Ten years on, and multiple smoking bans later, there’s a growing bottom-up reaction to this by all the peoples of Europe. The referendum vote for Brexit last week was an example of bottom up reaction to top down control.
The entire EU elite project is now coming under increasing threat from the citizens of Europe, who are turning in ever-increasing numbers against their arrogant overlords in Brussels. And if the imposition of smoking bans is an example of top down control, the repeal of smoking bans will be a consequence of countervailing power being exerted from the bottom up. And should it occur, the collapse and disintegration of the EU will be accompanied by a wave of repeals of smoking bans across Europe. Because, apart from a few zealots in the medical profession, nobody really wanted them anyway. And there will no longer be any supra-national authority to impose them. And smoking more than anything else will symbolise freedom.
So if Britain really does succeed in breaking away from the EU, and revoking its signature on the FCTC, there’s a very good chance that a sovereign UK parliament will repeal the 2007 smoking ban. Or certainly a much better chance than if it stays inside the EU.
I thought last week that every single one of Britain’s smokers should take the opportunity of the referendum to vote for Brexit, for the reasons set out above. Britain’s smokers are found predominantly in the north of England, and there are not many in London or any of the big cities where smoking is illegal more or less everywhere. It’s generally supposed that there are currently about 10 million of them. A few years ago the figure was 13 million of them. But in the light of the referendum last week, I have arrived at a new figure – which includes all the secret smokers, and the occasional social smokers who don’t think of themselves as smokers, and people who don’t know that they’re smokers†, and also mad people like Joan Bakewell.
My new estimate is that there are actually 17,410,742 smokers in the UK.
For this is the number of people who voted to leave the EU last week.
† I came across one of these when collecting data for the ISIS survey. She was sitting at a table outside a pub with a lit cigarette in her hand. When I asked her if she would like to complete a short survey of smokers, she immediately declared very forcefully, “I don’t smoke!” I said nothing, but fixed my eyes on the cigarette between her fingers. And eventually her eyes were drawn to it too, and she beheld it with a look of horror and amazement. Clearly she had simply never known that she was a smoker until I drew her attention to the fact.