Tobacco Control and Individuals

When the Smoking Ban Act was passed (or rather, when the Health Act of which the smoking ban was a small part was passed), every business in the UK was forced to comply. Individuals were not. Individuals caught smoking were liable to a fine of £50, or thereabouts. Businesses were liable for fines up to £3,000. The House of Lords condemned those swingeing fines, but they were still passed in the Commons. In other words, publicans etc were blatantly used as enforcers. Compare that with the seatbelt law. Drivers and owners of cars were not responsible for adult passengers belting up. Adults were individually responsible for their own in-actions.

I did not know that when the smoking ban came in. Or rather, I did not see the implications. As far as I was aware at the time, a law had been passed which forbade me from smoking in a pub. What I was not aware of, and what horrified me was the ENTHUSIASM which some bar staff showed for ensuring that no one lit a cig indoors. I was horrified that normal, friendly individuals could allow themselves to be used in that way.

What I very quickly realised was that the enthusiasm was fake. It seemed genuine, and perhaps some youths enjoyed exercising undreamed of power which they could wield, which they had never enjoyed before in their in their lives. Bossing their elders about. But it was not. As far as Pubcos were concerned, orders were handed down from the top to managers. NO QUARTER! THE BAN MUST BE ENFORCED! As far as independents were concerned, I have no doubt that they received visits from Town Hall officers, or at least letters, warning them about the consequences of failure to act as enforcers. And so, on 1st July 2007, an enormous army of mostly unwilling conscripts was created with the objective of defeating the enemy. What was the enemy? It was the vague risk that a barperson might inhale the equivalent of six cigs per year. Disregard the fact that the turnover of barpersons is enormous. Disregard the fact that big studies had shown no ill effects from SHS.

It is easy to pass laws which affect corporations and businesses. But it is not so easy to pass laws which affect individuals. The ‘nasty cig packets’ law in Australia has had no effect on individuals. They still buy their cigs. I can honestly say that when I open a packet of cigs, I do not even look at the packet, other than to find the little strip of cellophane which makes it easy for me to open the packet. Maybe banning that little strip will appear on the agenda in due course. They can do that, if the wish, but it will make no difference. I possess several pairs of scissors.

The ‘no smoking in cars with kids present’ law will not change the habits of individuals. I defy the law daily by throwing my cig butts into the street. In fact, I delight in doing so. My action is a tiny little bullet compared with the big guns of TC, but it amuses me to fire that little bullet. I detest having to go outside for a fag when I go to the pub (much less now than I used to), but, at the same time, I delight in the fact that I have not been cowed into submission. I am not the only one. The pub manager and his girlfriend often join me, along with sundry others. Almost all are young. Well, would old and decrepit people who might go to the pub for a beer and a cig, continue to do so if they could not have their cig? Only non-smoking elders who are a bit decrepit now go to the pub.

It strikes me that when TC runs out of ways to bash the Tobacco Industry and other Industries, and tries to bash individuals, that is when it will fail dramatically.

The same applies to ecigs. The TPD and the the FDA in the US have tried to disable the ecig industry.  But they are struggling. There is a massive backlash. Commenters should disregard ASH ET AL. They are bit players in this war. They are just megaphones. The important actors are Public Health England and the Federal Drugs Administration. They are in conflict. Do not think that they do not know that. They are fully aware. The conflict is at an industry level. Should the ecig industry be permitted to operate with little interference, of should it be mega regulated?

That little war will run on for some time.

Individuals will work things out for themselves, sooner or later, which is what happened as regards ecigs. Individuals decide to give ecigs a go, and some of those people liked them. They stopped smoking or cut down. Cost might have been important to them, more than health. Who knows? You Gov surveys do not ask such questions. They are fixed.

Despite ASH ET AL, PHE, FDA, etc, in the end, individuals will win. When enough individuals disobey a law, the law has to be changed. That is what has always happened.

I suspect that, sooner or later, it will become clear that SHS is not a problem, just as climate change is an aberration. It would be wonderful if Trump told the UN to vacate the USA and set up it headquarters in Uganda or somewhere like that. He might say that the USA would build the necessary huts to house the personnel. The dismissal of the UN from New York would free up a large area of real estate.

He could do worse.

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2 Responses to “Tobacco Control and Individuals”

  1. mikef317 Says:

    Trump can’t tell the UN to “vacate” the USA. The building and the land its built upon is “international territory.”

    The UN has its own police and fire departments, and for reasons I don’t quite fathom, its own post office. The land was donated by the Rockefeller family. (Where have I heard that name before?) I don’t know who paid for the building; presumably wealthier nations.

    Americans (including the President) may visit the UN, but only if the UN allows them into the building.

    I don’t really care about the UN being in New York. I do wish, however, that the damned diplomats would pay their 16 million dollars’ worth of parking tickets. (The UK does. Two cheers for the UK.)

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonbruner/2011/07/12/the-worlds-most-corrupt-diplomats-as-told-through-parking-tickets-map/#d1ba69f1e42a

    • junican Says:

      Yes he can. He is ‘Commander in Chief’ and if he decides that the UN is a ‘foreign power’ he can force them out. The situation is much the same as expelling diplomats.

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