I have previously commented on nations more liberal and more tolerant than ours with respect to their treatment of those who choose to smoke. In addition to Germany and The Netherlands I have observed pragmatic approaches that guarantee smoke free air for the many without victimising the significant few in France, Austria and Switzerland.
It is mildly surprising that Switzerland offers some of the best facilities for travelling smokers despite being home to the WHO an organization that seeks to impose its politicised extra budgetary funded will on all without actually having to do anything as inconvenient as obtaining a popular mandate. My experiences are based on Basel and things may become decreasingly liberal as one approaches Geneva.
Basel provides airside facilities for smokers in both arrivals and departures. They have chairs, tables and other comfort features that tend to be absent from smoking facilities in the UK where our laws are intended to punish and coerce. UK facilities lack even the basics like an appropriate number of walls.
The Swiss authorities seem unconcerned that the mere sight of a cigarette brand will cause a mass surge in smoking uptake suggesting that they are reasonable, sane individuals unlike their increasingly ridiculous UK counterparts. Imagine not only allowing a cigarette manufacturer to advertise on a smoking lounge but having the intelligence to work out that it might be a good way to help cover the costs of providing such facilities.
Basel airport links directly to an international high speed rail network and it is a short walk from the terminal to the train station. On arrival there smokers are greeted by the amazing sight of a cafe with a ventilated separate smoking lounge. Yes, smokers can sit down and have a drink in some comfort and apparently without bothering non-smokers.
In the UK smoking facilities are exclusively outdoors and not segregated which seems to create an issue for some non-smokers. I have never really observed unwanted smoke in my workplace but I have noticed that these days I seem to experience greater exposure to environmental smoke outside UK buildings.
It seems I am not alone. Here is a selection of reader’s comments from media forums:
“I object to having to walk on the road because you’re all standing outside the pub/restaurant on the pavement. When I have to stand close to you and you smell so bad I want to be sick”
“I for one am tired of the thick wall of foul smelling smoke outside of every shop on every high street in every town as the inconsiderate people who smoke stand in the doorway indulging in their foul habit”
“Smokers are by nature dirty. They stand outside smoking without a care for anybody else walking past them and blowing their smoke in faces…”
It would appear that a more reasoned approach that did not force smokers onto the streets might benefit everyone but instead, our government encourages social division through laws that inevitably create conflict. Should anyone be in any doubt about the degree of hate and prejudice that has been encouraged towards those who smoke, here are a few more readers’ comments:
“Smokers disgust me. Me and my friends do see them as second class citizens. We all look down our noses at them and their disgusting and filthy habit. We make sure they know it too.”
“Smoking is disgusting and dirty. And so are smokers.”
“It’s a no brainer. If you smoke, you are stupid. If you are stupid, you are probably low-income or no income beyond benfits”
“smokers are weak minded addicts and should be removed from society if they can’t be helped or refuse help.”
“We could always just change the law to allow people to legally shoot dead anyone caught with a cig between their lips outside the four walls of their home…”
And from 2 people commenting on a BBC forum:
“Smoking is darwinian”
“An excellent point. My only objection is that procreation often takes place prior to demise.”
It is difficult to imagine that comments like these would be considered acceptable if directed against any other minority but thanks to a myopic adherence to the one dimensional “quit or die” mantra of the activists and an ongoing “denormalization” campaign, UK politicians have given legitimacy to this hate, which is an inevitable consequence of trying to force social change through coercion and state sponsored intolerance combined with deliberate distortion of the facts.
Politicians who continue to support such strategies despite their manifest failure are entitled to their opinion in an allegedly free society but those who promote intimidation, exclusion and hatred as a means of engineering change should not call themselves liberal. Hiding behind the pretence that it is possible to “denormalize” an established activity without “denormalizing” the millions who indulge in it is not a valid excuse.
By Chris Oakley. Chris has previously posted on Liberal Vision: Alcohol is Old News – Minimum Pricing for Digestives is the “Next Logical Step” , Soviet Style Alcohol Suppression Campaign Called for By Public Health Activists , Alcohol Taxation: The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth , A Liberal Tolerant nation? and What hope is there for liberty if truth becomes the plaything of political lobbyists.