It seems that the UK Government’s proposed ban on smoking in public places is faltering.
Intellectually, I find it hard to justify a smoking ban in private businesses. It should be for the owner of a bar or restaurant to decide if he or she wants to allow smoking or not, and for customers to choose the establishment that meets their preferences.
Here in California, smoking is not allowed in bars or restaurants, and the improvement in quality of life for me is substantial. I can go out to a bar and have a few drinks without coming home smelling like an ashtray and having to wash everything from my jeans to my sweater. I actually enjoy spending time out in clubs now; with the result that I go out to bars more often here than I would in London.
You would think that there are enough people like me who would choose a smoke-free environment that some pubs and clubs would allow smoking and others would not, and then we could choose where to go to. Something like this works for coffee bars already: in London, Starbucks does not allow smoking and Caffe Nero does: it is a free market, and I can choose which I want to go to. So why doesn’t it work the same way for pubs, restaurants, and clubs? But for some reason it doesn’t happen – I am not aware of any non-smoking pubs and restaurants in London.
I am with Third Avenue on this (perhaps not surprisingly, as we are both Brits living in America). Though intellectually I think there should be a choice, the improvement in quality of life from a smoking ban is much larger than I would have expected; the market does not in fact provide the choice; and I would vote for a ban.
I don’t understand why the UK is finding it hard to put together legislation. There are well-functioning examples here in New York and in California, and as I understand it, the ban in Ireland works OK too – so how hard can it be?