I have just returned from my USA vacation and am delighted to report that tales of the demise of the smoker across the pond are greatly exaggerated. Indeed in some states the fight back seems to be on.
Despite what you may have heard, it was ludicrously easy to find hotels in New York offering smoking rooms. Much easier actually than finding a smoking room in many UK cities. Smoking on the streets remains common place – and the numbers of open air bars encouraging you to light up are, if anything, on the increase.
Over in Las Vegas the story is even more encouraging. Back in around 2006 Nevada introduced a smoking ban on places that served food. Initially this meant that several bars simply went smoke free. In some casinos it was actually difficult to find a decent bar where you could sit down with your Sapphire tonic and enjoy the odd Marlborough Light. But public demand has caused many owners to rethink their policy. One casino on the strip has not only opened up two new smoking bars (complete with waitress service) in the last 12 months, but rejigged two of its most popular restaurants to accommodate outdoor seating for smokers. At the other end of the strip, my favourite restaurant – which bizarrely banned smoking on the terrace when the ban was first introduced – has relaxed its rules to allow its patrons to enjoy a cigarette once more. None of this is to the detriment on non smokers. There are still many places that you can go and find a smoke free atmosphere. But a sense of balance is finally being restored. Amen to that.
Returning to a damp Britain was therefore rather depressing.. A return to standing outside the pub with two bar staff avoiding the cars throwing up spray from the gutter while half a dozen people inside enjoyed their “right” to a smoke free environment. How marvelous it would be if we could see some of that Clark County commonsense over here.
So what to do….? My first political act post-vacation has been to sign the e-petition calling for a review of the smoking ban.
The petition states
“We petition the Government to review the impact of the smoking ban on pubs and clubs and consider an amendment that would give licensees the option of separate well-ventilated smoking rooms”
I share many folks scepticism of e-petitions but there is nothing to lose – and just perhaps something to be gained. I have tested out the wording of the petition with friends and family (mostly non-smokers) … “what’s to disagree with?” was the over-riding consensus.
Original legislation went too far. It is now widely known that the intention was never to include every single pub and club in the smoking ban. A growing number of MPs regret voting it through. And as a society, we are frankly getting rather tired of the pontifications of those on high, and the intolerance and scorn of those who seem incensed by anyone around them who seems to be taking any enjoyment from life.
So why not give this e-petition a go? You never know it may just work…..