Some news I came across a couple of days back:
Health workers attacked and abused over hospital smoking ban
Rules banning smoking outside Victoria’s public hospitals could be reviewed because health workers are being attacked and abused while trying to police the policy.
Calls for an audit of the ban are being led by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, which is concerned nurses are being put in danger.
“We’re hearing that the policing of the ban actually leads to violence and aggression against our members,” union state secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said.
The calls come after the death of Melbourne heart surgeon Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann, who was allegedly punched in the head in the foyer of Box Hill Hospital after expressing concern about people smoking near the hospital entrance.
Tobacco Control always gets other people to do its dirty work in enforcing smoking bans. They don’t suffer the consequences of enforcing the laws they enact. I doubt that Deborah Arnott or Sally Davies or Sir Charles George or any of the rest of them would ever have dreamed of themselves telling anybody to stop smoking: they get other people to do that for them.
In the UK, pub landlords were co-opted to enforce the law, entirely unpaid. At least the police, like firemen, are paid to do dangerous work. I suppose that nurses and porters and other hospital staff are paid for the work they do, and might be expected to enforce hospital rules and regulations as part of their normal duties. Or conversely, they might not be expected to.
It should be no surprise to anyone if smokers object to being made to walk long distances to find a place outdoors where they can smoke. It should be no surprise if they react angrily to officious busybodies, and say abusive things, and even become violent. The same would happen with car owners if they are told that they can’t park somewhere, and must park miles away, and walk long distances, simply because their car emits carbon dioxide.
In the case of Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann, it would appear that he was an elite antismoking zealot much like Sir Charles George, who also happened to be a heart surgeon:
Dr Pritzwald-Stegmann, 41, is now clinging to life after an alleged one punch assault out the front of Box Hill Hospital last Tuesday evening.
Police allege the medical professional was knocked unconscious by Joseph Esmaili, 22, after asking him to stop smoking near the hospital entrance.
He remained in a critical condition on Friday – ten days after the alleged assault – an Alfred Hospital spokeswoman said.
Pritzwald-Stegmann seems to have been different from the rest of the antismoking elite, in that instead of getting someone else to enforce their smoking bans for them, he attempted to do so himself, and was promptly met with extreme violence.
It also rather sounds like Joseph Esmaili was a street fighting man who knew how to throw a punch, and Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann didn’t know how to dodge one, and the outcome of their encounter was a foregone conclusion (although I doubt Esmaili was trying to kill him). It also sounds as if, despite his medical skills, he lacked rather a lot in the way of diplomatic skills, if he managed to get into a fight with Esmaili.
But if Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann was met with violence that cost him his life, aren’t nurses and other hospital workers likely to meet with the same? Why should they put their lives at risk to enforce hospital regulations?
The same question should have been asked of pub landlords in the UK. Why should they put their lives at risk to enforce a smoking ban which they never used to have to enforce? It must be much harder to enforce such a ban in a pub environment in which a great many people will be intoxicated, and liable to get into fights over any number of issues.
Smoking bans are enacted by people who, for the most part (Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann excepted) are never going to experience any of the consequences of them. Those consequences fall on the smokers on which they are imposed, as they are required first to trudge their way out of the hospital, and then to trudge far from the hospital entrance as well. And the consequences also fall upon those who are required, usually without any financial remuneration, to police these bans.
But if antimoking police were remunerated for enforcing smoking bans – and perhaps smokers also remunerated for being required to walk long distances to smoke – it would most likely would have proved far too expensive to do. Smoking bans require voluntary enforcement, for otherwise they’ll be too costly.
It really should be that, whenever anyone enacts some law, they must also provide funds to enforce that law.
I imagine that when (and if) Victoria’s hospital smoking bans do get reviewed, they will be reviewed by people who don’t have any intention of enforcing them themselves, and want other people to do their dirty work for them: they will vote to keep the ban, and maybe even extend it. The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation might then respond by voting to instruct its members to refuse to police such bans. Other hospital employees’ organisations might do the same. The ban will remain, but nobody will enforce it, not even those who first enacted it.
And here’s Part 2 of my three part conversation with Legiron: