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Smoking Rooms - a Liberal Alternative

As someone who has never smoked anything (apart from other people's smoke) and who is quite anti-smoking, I still have some problems with banning smoking in public places.

I am happy with the argument about protecting the workforce, but feel that a simplistic ban is not necessary the best way. I will probably go along with banning smoking from all pubs. I have some difficulty with clubs, however.

What I think might be a good way forwards is to have "Smoking Rooms" which are licensed for smoking on the basis that they have good ventilation and staff are protected from breathing in smoke.

This at least would prevent the entrances to pubs ending up plastered with fag ends and having people walking through smoke.

I have, therefore, tabled such an amendment to the Health Bill to have a debate about this. My amendment would allow local authorities to license certain rooms for smoking.

There are clearly good cases for such provision such as specialist smoking shops where people want to try before they buy.

I accept that smoking is bad for health, but I don't think that it is the role of government to legislate to control how people handle their own health.


Bob Piper said…
So presumably you are opposed to the law on seat belts in cars? Frankly, if the rest of us are obliged to pick up the bill, from road accidents, smoking related diseases or things like obesity, I think our government should do whatever is reasonably within its powers to prevent these things. The reality is if rooms are reserved for smokers you will concentrate the smoke and even the best ventilation would be ineffective for those having to work there. If people manage for hours on end on long (and even short) haul flights to their holiday destination, it is not asking too much for them to delay for a few hours whilst we have a social dring in a clean atmosphere.
john said…
At least we now have a debate. The question is "what is reasonably"?

In terms of obesity, for example, there are all sorts of things the government could do, but should it.

Clearly people should be able to smoke in specialist smoking shops (the try before you buy issue).
Bob Piper said…
I don't even agree with the try before you buy in 'specialist' smoking shops. if I want to try Heinz baked beans instead of Crosse and Blackwell I have to bloody well by a tin and try them... rather than expect the local shop to open them first. I agree there is far more that should be done to deal with issues like obesity too. It is no good people bleating about the "NHS in financial crisis" on one hand and then squealing that people should have the liberty to expect to impose their ill health on everyone else. Seat belts? Just as a matter of interest, what is your view on people's individual liberty to consume heroin or cocaine?
TonyF said…
I am in favour of a total ban in pubs and restaurants ( and that's coming from a smoker). On the proviso that pub car parks are closed, yellow lines placed around all pubs and the non parking enforced to deter drink drivers.
By the way, has anyone ever done a survey to see how many of them smoke?
john said…
Heroin and Cocaine modify the consumers' behaviour in such a way as results in others being subjected to unacceptable behaviour.

Hence I do not support the legalisation of either of those drugs.
Bob Piper said…
That's booze banned by the Lib dems then, eh? Errrm, seat belts?
PoliticalHack said…
We have strict controls on other dangerous chemicals in the workplace - or is that too simplistic for you.

Smoking rooms won't work because the ventilation will not be good enough to remove the carcinogens and toxic gases from the air sufficiently to protect the staff.

This isn't about legislating to control how people handle their own health, but how their behaviour affects others. That's a perfectly proper subject for legislation.

Stop trying to please both sides of the argument - get off the fence and decide where you stand.
TonyF said…
Sorry Bob, I'm not a Lib Dem. I agree with the question on seat belts but what's wrong with shutting down pub car parks and enforcing parking laws to prevent drink driving?
Bob Piper said…
Tony, I wouldn't dream of tainting you with the stigma of being a Lib Dem. I was responding to John's suggestion that the state should ban substances which adversley affect people's behaviour. As ever though, John ignores those elements of a debate which do not fit his argument.It is possible to got to a pub in a car and not dring alcohol though you know.
Tristan said…
The big question is where do you draw the line.

I support a smoking ban to protect people in the workplace as arguably they don't have a choice to go there. Licensed smoking areas is a good medium though.

Preventing a person doing harm to themself is not reason enough for legislation. Before spouting about costs to the NHS, think about all the other things which cause costs to the tax payer. Driving accidents (seat-belts don't prevent these, just make the injuries less in many cases), repsiritory problems caused by car fumes and pollution, cooking accidents, even slipping on banana skin.
We cannot ban things just because they cost the NHS money, should we ban skiing or motorcycling because its dangerous to the participants? or football and rugby? the point of the NHS is to provide medical cover, free at the point of delivery, to all. Government can advise on how to live, but they should not ever start coercing us to live in a particular way.

The only reason for a smoking ban is to protect those who have no choice but to be in that environment. A peron's own choice to go there or to smoke has no bearing on the subject.
Stephen Booth said…
I like the idea of closing pub car parks, replace them with Taxi ranks and bus stops.

As for unacceptable behaviour from the use of Heroin or Cocaine. Mr Hemming, sir, I suggest that you take a walk along Broad Street around midnight on Friday or Saturday night. You'll see plenty of unacceptable behaviour, not as a result of Heroin (which, I'm told, induces a trance like state) or Cocaine (which causes one to act like a young Conservative).
John Kasino said…
John i've just come back from a business trip to Chile and what a mess I find things in.

Why did you pull out before firing you've never done that before!

Look now. Lets have a bit of straight talking. Have you gone in for a bit of the Oscar Wild's or what?

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