Swedish Girl In London

London Life: Bright Lights, Big City. Now what's on TV?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Behind The Bike Shed

And so the UK, this bastion of individual freedom, is finally turning to ashes and dust – at least if you believe the pro-smoking lobby. On Wednesday, Parliament voted to ban smoking in all public places, and not only in those serving food (alarmingly, crisps and pea-nuts have not been classified as food – what do they know that we don’t?).

Now pro-smoking groups are huffing and puffing about the nanny state and everybody’s right to choose.

In the Independent, a spokesman for pro-smoking group Forest is wheezing that the health lobby is not unbiased, although he doesn’t say what sinister agenda underpins its support for the smoking ban. (A desire to see us live longer, perhaps? Or an evil wish to sell more flu medicine, as poor smokers will now have to huddle outside in the pelting rain, much like breeding Penguins?)

Then there was the Guardian journalist who conspiratorially told a waitress in Nero – one of the few smoking coffee chains in London – how happy he was to be able to light up, only to be told that she couldn’t wait for a ban. “But I smoke in solidarity with the working classes”, was his defense, reminding me of Tony Blair drinking tea out of a mug to connect with the Common Man. After all, I’m prepared to bet that the waitress was the lower-paid one out of the two.

Somehow, this righteousness just doesn’t seem to suit smokers.

I mean – health lobby agendas? Class wars? It is not on these serious fields that the battle of smoking is won.

Come on, people, do you not remember why you started in the first place? It wasn’t to demonstrate your high-flying ideals. It was to rebel. That’s how it started, behind the bike shed, as you sulkily sucked your first Marlboro Light, possibly experimenting with different ways of wielding it: were you a thumb-and-index finger kinda guy, like James Dean? Or an elegant Marlene Dietrish?

So, smokers of London, stump out that stance of offended idealism and get back to your roots – on street corners, gutters, or even behind the bike shed. It is what rebels do.


At 5:03 PM, Blogger shellz said...

Hey Swedish Girl - it's been a while. I'm going to link you if you don't mind, so I can click over more often!

Toronto started that smoking ban about 2 years ago - and there were lots of fights then too! But now, I think everybody loves it. It is SO nice to come out of a club, restaurant, lounge and not stink of cigarette smoke!!!

At 5:39 PM, Blogger Gert said...

There really is no shortage of righteousness on the part of non-smokers either. 90% of non-smokers are in favour of the ban "because I don't smoke": it's hardly an argument.

The compromise that was on the table was fair to all, why is it so wrong to leave a few social venues open to smokers? If you're protected from passive smoking in non-smoking venues, then where is the problem for you?

It simply smacks of telling people not to do something which you don't like... but I'm sure there are plenty of things you do that I don't like either. What happened to tolerance?

This government is saving lives? Where? In Afghanistan? In Iraq?

At 12:18 PM, Blogger hen said...

Yeah banning it will just make it cooler. I bet illegal underground smoking clubs will appear. “Wheeze Easies” people will call them.

At 7:38 AM, Blogger Stellastoria said...

The smoking ban in New York went into effect over 2 years ago... despite early reservations I think most people are doing fine. No riots yet.

No need for smokers to panic, either; most neighborhood establishments still allow smoking after a certain time of night, whatever the law is. As Hen said, it just makes it a cooler place to be.

At 1:52 PM, Blogger josephknecht said...

There are already 'Smoke Easies' in San Francisco - several bars have found a loophole in employment law that allows people to smoke (The staff 'co-own' the premises, meaning there are no employees, so it's all okay).

I think it's rotten. Stop telling me what to do, you bastards. Pretty much agreeing with Gert (though I would suggest that, behind all the civil liberties stuff, 90% of smokers are probably against a ban purely because they do smoke).

At 5:31 PM, Blogger Wonderchild said...

Sweden has been doing just fine since the smoking ban started in June (or was it July?). Finally you don't have to smell like an ashtray comming home after a night out!

Blogg: http://wonderchildinwonderland.blogspot.com

At 2:01 AM, Blogger Zen Wizard said...

I was once a manager in an office building where if the security guards caught an employee smoking IN HIS OWN CAR WITH THE WINDOWS ROLLED UP, we had to write him up for the first offense and fire him for the second.

THAT was a little "control freak" for my taste.

I suspect some of the real zealots on this issue aren't really motivated by health, but are on some kind of power trip.

The current controversy in the US is the "safety cigarette," which extinguishes itself if not puffed on for a couple minutes (preventing fires).

New York already requires it, and other states are likely to follow (if for no other reason than insurance lobbyists.)

But it would save a lot of lives of people who pass out with a cigarette lit.

At 6:53 AM, Anonymous mia said...

For me the smoking ban was the best thing ever! I am allergic and could not enter a bar or a restaurant before without my eyes tearing up and my throat and chest hurting, but now all of a sudden - I can! It's great!

Smokers - Where is your compassion for the people working in the bars having to breathe your smoke eight hours every day?

I would probably not be this sensitive to smoke and also other things that irritate your tubes if I hadn't grown up with two heavy smokers. Their smoke even made it into the closets making all the clothes smell like a tobacco store. The smell didn't even wash out.

Get it into your heads - what you are doing is dangerous not only for your health, but also for others. That you put your own health at risk is all up to you - it's your life, your body, your health. But your smoking is bad even for people who you expose your smoke to. That's why there is a smoking ban in bars and restaurants - it's not there to make life miserable for you, but nicer for everyone else. :)

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Swedish Girl said...

Wow, I think I got much more eloquent comments than my post deserved!

But I still can't help finding it funny how high-minded the smoking debate sounds... it probably says nothing good about my nature, but I always suspect self-interest to lie at heart.

Non-smokers don't want the nicotine stench, smokers don't want to huddle in the cold. Fair enough!

Shellz - link away, I'm flattered!

At 8:02 PM, Blogger Rocío said...

hey! would you mind if I link you in my blog?? I love this!! I want my friends to check this as well! : )


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