Breathing easy.

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

Happy Smoking Ban Day, England!

Finally, it will be possible to go out for a Friday drink or a Sunday lunch, or to attend a gig, or to play a gig, without coming home wheezing and smelling like an ashtray. The smokers may grumble, but as the typical ex-smoker who has become extremely sensitive to cigarette smoke, this day couldn’t come soon enough for me (nor, apparently, for the people who were setting off fireworks at 6 AM this morning, when the smoking ban officially went into effect—they must be really happy). If this is the “nanny state”, then I say, “Bring it on!”

In other news—I’ve sorely neglected this poor site, mostly because I’m lazy, but also because I feel like I’ve been on the go non-stop over the past month and a half. After getting my passport back, I immediately went to Paris for a week, which was brilliant (and which I really want to write a longer article about—at some point). Then I was back home for a week, then I was in Florida for a week, then I was back for a day, then I was in London for several days, then I was back with houseguests—and when everything should have calmed down a bit, Jeremy and I had to start looking for a new flat because our landlord is selling the place we’re in. This was a nasty, nasty shock because we really love our flat, but we’ve found a flat just around the corner which will hopefully be just as nice. We get the keys on Tuesday, and then the real fun begins: moving…

Anyway, I’m shortly heading off to lunch at the Atlas Lounge, a very nice bar/café just down the street which has good food, friendly table service and a wide selection of coffees, juices and cocktails, and which we used to frequent regularly but had to abandon eventually because it was always so unbearably smoky. At 6 AM this morning, Brighton got a whole lot more appealing to me!



Yeah! Jessica posted! Yeah!

More. Your fans want more posts more often. Even once every two weeks…



Ok, now that I have had my celebration, I will actually comment on the post…

On Jan. 1, 1998, California went smoke free in all bars and the like. At the time, the libertarian in me protested a bit for the sake of the rights of the owners of the establishment to set their own rules. But now, when I got somewhere like Nevada or the UK, I am astounded that folks smoke inside. Las Vegas makes me particularly cranky in this regard.

I do wish that more SoCal venues would have cool patios or courtyards like those in Austin for smokers and those of us who want to escape to see stars whilst talking to friends. I am trying to convince my friend Alex to expand his patio at Alex’s in Long Beach to include tables and a little fountain with a Virgen of Guadalupe mosaic.


——-If this is the “nanny state”, then I say, “Bring it on!”

——-At the time, the libertarian in me protested a bit …

With each freedom eroded so goes the entire concept. We accept these changes because they do not infringe on our personal happiness. We accept these changes because it is a proven fact that smoking is bad for you. We accept these changes because it is the "thing to do".

I have never smoked … well, cigarettes. I have always objected to the smell of smoke whether I am enjoying a pleasant spring morning or the culinary efforts of an excellent restaurant.

I will not accept the right of the many to infringe on the rights of the few with regard to a perfectly legal habit.

If I am wrong, then I propose the following:

Spitting, driving while talking on a cell phone, picking your nose in public, passing wind, talking too loud, reading while moving your lips, not answering emails, saying "Good Morning!" with a bright, imbecilic smile, and other things ad nauseam, which greatly annoy me, be made illegal.

While we’re at it, the following don’t bother me personally but seem to bother the majority of small minded people … homosexuality, abortion rights, interracial dating, public breast feeding of babies … again ad nauseam should be made illegal also.

Smokers are easy targets because they stand out. Be careful, so do orthodox Jews, Muslims, people of color (depending on what continent you reside), women, the more outlandish of our gay friends and many others.

Will we still be setting off fireworks when they or, God forbid, we are feeling our rights trampled by a "nanny state"?

Posted by Michael


Nice reductio ad absurdum there, but please…

It’s not a question of annoyance, and for God’s sake, it’s not a human rights issue. It’s a question of public health. If your "perfectly legal" habit poses a direct danger to those around you, then some thought needs to be given as to whether that habit should be perfectly legal, or at least, perfectly legal where it affects innocent parties who are in no way associated with you.

Do you object to the fact that driving while drunk is illegal? Drinking is legal, driving is legal, getting drunk is legal, and presumably the owner of a car should be able to do whatever they want with it, right? Wrong. Drunk driving is illegal because it’s likely to cause injury or death to you and/or those around you. (And incidentally, talking on a cell phone while driving is illegal in some places, because talking on a cell phone while driving has the same effect on your response time as driving while drunk.)

By the same token, smoking in public places in Britain is now illegal because the government has finally admitted that smoking harms not only the smoker, but also the non-smokers who have to breathe in second-hand smoke. And yes, I say have to, because some people have to work in places where people smoke, and even if you don’t have to go to one of these places, why should the person who is not causing harm to others have to lock themselves in their house and never visit a bar, restaurant or café just so the people who have no concern for the health of others can indulge in a nasty personal habit? The so-called smoking ban isn’t about banning smoking, it’s about banning smoking in enclosed public spaces, and it thus acknowledges the right of every citizen to freely congregate in a public space without being exposed to deadly toxins.

Smoking is a choice, and if smokers are, in fact, "easy targets", it’s because they willingly engage in a habit that they know is harmful both to themselves and the people around them. There is no way you can draw even a theoretical line between the stigmatization of smokers and the stigmatization of homosexuals, or Jews, or any other truly marginalized and persecuted group, and attempting to do so—even if just for the sake of argument—is, frankly, offensive.

And I’m sure this whole rant has made me sound much more anti-smoking (and pro-government-intervention) than I really am, but there you go…


Good to know I can get you excited about writing …

Sure my arguments were over the top but, then again, we two and, for the most part all of your readers, are intelligent folk who recognize the dangers of losing ANY personal liberty.

Unfortunately, in a democracy, the masses rule and, for the most part, that scares the living crap out of me.

Posted by Michael

Sorry. Comments are closed.