Top European Festivals this July   Top Summer Festivals in...

Smoking bans- no butts about it

09 July, 2008 19:23  EasyExpat EasyExpat

Smoking bans seem to be all the rage with governments these days. A rash of bans have sprouted especially in Europe in recent years. A number of countries have joined the non-smoking wagon and a number of others are scrambling for their turn to join in.

Different countries have implemented the ban to different degrees. Some countries like Albania, Ireland, Cyprus, England, Iceland, Estonia, Finland, Scotland and recently Netherlands and France have opted to go completely smoke-free and ban smoking in all work places and public buildings including restaurants and cafes. Some countries have chosen to tread a bit more lightly. Austria for example bans smoking in public buildings open to children and young people but does not include work places. Others like Germany agreed to ban smoking in restaurants and pubs but will allow exemptions for small bars and premises with separate smoking rooms. Spain, Slovakia and Slovenia have allowed smoking in separate zones in pubs and restaurants. Switzerland imposes partial restriction on indoor workplaces and Luxembourg imposes a total ban on advertising and sponsoring smoking and a partial ban on smoking in public places.

The list is not limited to Europe alone. In recent years, many countries around the world including Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Singapore and a number of states in the Untied States have banned smoking in public areas. From the above, it’s clear the world wants to go smoke-free. Below are some key effects of such a move.

Some key effects of the smoking ban

Great for health: Results actually show a huge drop in the number of heart attacks and lung-related diseases in many countries that have enacted the smoking ban. e..g. In the first eighteen months that Peublo, Colorado enacted the smoking ban, hospital admissions for heart attacks dropped 27%. Scotland showed a 17% year-on-year drop in heart attack admissions since the ban.

Lower tobacco usage: Smoking bans make it generally easier for people to quit smoking. In UK, according to a survey, 22% of smokers quit after the ban was implemented in public areas. Cigarette sales have generally dropped in these countries and there is a lower chance of young people becoming habitual smokers.

Business blues: There’s a mixed opinion on the effects of the ban on businesses. Many restaurant and pub owners complain of lost business. Counter-arguments are that these smoke-free areas will now attract the non-smokers to their premises.

Some key criticisms

Needless to say, not everyone’s happy about the bans. Smokers and business owners are the most upset. Some key criticisms are:

Loss of personal freedom: Many smokers complain that the ban is an infringement on their personal freedom and choice. They believe that it is their right to choose whether to smoke or not. Many smokers in France for example feel like it is a change in their complete lifestyle. Their images of a cup of coffee and croissant best enjoyed with a cigarette have gone up in smoke…. literally.   

Economic loss: Restaurant and bar owners have complained that many of them have reported losses and many smaller establishments have had to close down pending the losses caused by the bans.

Bans simply move smoking elsewhere: By moving smoking out of closed places and buildings, critics say that the ban has only moved smoking to the doorways. Some also claim that this has reduced productivity as smokers now have to make longer trips to the ground floor or office exit for a smoke.

Smoking ban paradoxes

This sudden rush to go healthy has resulted in some curious scenarios.

  • In the Netherlands for example, smoking marijuana in coffee shops is permitted but this cannot be mixed with tobacco. i.e. You can’t smoke tobacco but you can smoke marijuana!
  • In some countries, the rules merely require that smoking areas are clearly designated. How this actually makes air quality better or reduces second hand smoking is still an unknown. 
  • One of the key reasons smoking bans have been enforced across so many countries is to reduce the rising healthcare costs. While many optimistic figures have been reported in a number of countries, critics argue that this will eventually increase the burden on healthcare as the new non-smokers and reduced smokers will be living much longer!

One way or another, more and more countries are getting stricter about smoking bans. It’s time we got used to it.

Sidd Lobo
Freelance writer based out of Munich



Add this RSS to Yahoo!    Add this RSS to Google    Add this RSS to Netvibes    Add this RSS feed to your favorites on Technorati

         EasyExpat on

An alternative to smoking bans [Reply]

It is clear that separation of smokers from non-smokers combined

with air exchange technology is a complete solution to this largely

artificial problem. All it takes is regulating authorities setting the

standards for indoor air quality on passive smoke, and the technology

does the rest. Such air quality standards are common in industrial

and environmental contexts. But, to date, no country in the world has

set them for smoking areas. It seems clear that the reasons are not

scientific, nor are they economic or technical: they are political.

As to the annoyance of smoking, a compromise between smokers and non-smokers
can be reached, through setting a quality standard and the use of modern
ventilation technology.

Air ventilation can easily create a comfortable environment that removes not
just passive smoke, but also and especially the potentially serious
contaminants that are independent from smoking.

Thomas Laprade

Thomas Laprade     10 Jul 2008, 03:54


Good article, but you left out one of the paradoxes.

The people who would be most concerned about a ban are those few individuals are are truly exquisitely sensitive to any form of smoke, barbeques, fireplaces, cigarettes, even possibly candles. Before a ban those people could walk down the street in relative peace, knowing that most smokers were off in bars or in those restaurants that still permitted smoking, and behind closed doors.

Once a ban is in place the smokers will all be standing out in the street, and those folks who most sincerely want to avoid smoke will no longer be able to go to those smoke-free bars and retaurants that they campaigned so hard for.

Which is just one of the reasons why the Great Smoking Prohibition Experiment will fail: smoking bans are built on lies. Lies about the economic impact of bans. ies about the health effects of low level exposures to secondary smoke that anyone would commonly experience in a well-ventilated bar or restaurant.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

  Michael J. McFadden     10 Jul 2008, 10:27

Smoking bans. [Reply]

Basically good article but the claimed 27% drop in heart attack admissions was Helena, Montana, a reltively small city. When San Francisco, New York City, then New York State and other stated the effects tended to be neutral. Same with Europe. This is called "Cherry Picking" data.

  Greg Lang     14 Jul 2008, 04:04