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Yet another crazy law — 25 Comments

  1. Do the govt have any idea of the disposable income that kids now have, one of the highest in Europe. check out what they spend on mobiles per month. All this will do as you highlighted is cause them to smoke more.

    Ironically the mobile companies tried to upsell customers using a similar strategy to the govt and it was very successful.

  2. Do you ever wonder if the governments thinks these things through at all?? This one is just the latest of a string of daft laws that actually makes the situation worse.

    But it looks good for the upcoming election – “Look at our firm stance on smoking!”

  3. Seems slightly mad all right, though I suppose the 20 packs are cheaper per cigarette, aren’t they? I know someone who will only by ten-packs because he’s under the delusion that it will help him to give up; he’ll be very disappointed.

  4. That should be ‘buy’, obviously. Oops. I have a reputation as a grammar Nazi to protect…

  5. Like myself 😉

    Perversely it would have been a better idea to reduce packet size.

    You buy a pack of five, smoke three and subconsciously your reaction is “only two left – I’d better ease off”

    You buy a pack of twenty, smoke three and subconsciously your reaction is “seventeen left – loads more – I’ll have another”

  6. so they’re trying to ban smoking statewide here, too. not everywhere, but just about everywhere–bars, restaurants, parks… yes, parks.

    i don’t smoke and i’m very happy to eat and drink and teeter-totter in places that are clean and smoke-free. what’s interesting to me are the cries of “unfair!” first our state started banning it city by city. so folks in a banned city maintained that smokers would just go to the next city to smoke.

    so then entire counties starting banning it. ah, the bar owners said. they’ll just go to the next county!

    and so now that the whole state is finally saying, ok, we’ll ALL ban smoking, what are the bar owners saying? ah, they’ll just go to the next state now for their cig.

    i don’t know the pull of tobacco, and i know that addictions are powerful. but i just can’t see getting in the car and driving all the way to iowa to have a smoke.

  7. @Laurie – I have no problem with the ban as such. I dislike eating in a restaurant next to a cigar smoker as much as the next person.

    The only thing I object to is that pubs are not allowed to introduce ‘smoking rooms’ even if they want to. The tradition of ‘a pint and a fag’ is very strong, particularly amongst the elderly. It is the rigidity of the ban that is wrong. The law should have allowed for the availability of smoking areas at the discretion of the property owner.

    Incidentally, when the ban was introduced here, I gave up dropping into pubs for casual pints. Holidays are a different matter. I like to have a few on my holidays, so post-ban I have not holidayed in Ireland. I travelled over the border to Northern Ireland, and to France.

  8. @Grandad – The stated intent of the law is more or less to protect workers (on the basis that if, say, a factory had an industrial byproduct of equivalent danger to tobacco smoke in the air, it would be fined and closed), so that probably wouldn’t work.

  9. We’re getting back to a previous post here!

    There have been cases where pub owners have tried to build ‘smoking areas’ and have given undertakings that no staff would be required to enter them, but they were still banned.

  10. Grandad,

    Who does the change benefit?

    (i) The Government.

    If they really wanted to stop smoking they would hike the price to something ridiculous. They want to be seen to discourage smoking while not damaging exchequer returns. So we have this gradual increase in prices and enlargement of sale units, which reduces consumption but maintains revenues.

    (ii) Paramilitary gangsters (They haven’t gone away you know!). Government duties are always great business for the black market

    Who does it hurt?

    Poorer people of course.

    The cost of 20 is a far larger element of the income of someone on social welfare than of a bloke in a 4 x4.

    I don’t understand Ireland, it has run from Mother Church to Nanny State!

  11. yeah, they’ve tried to introduce smoking rooms here, too, but since the objection to smoking is (as rob suggests) to protect the workers from having to breathe smoke all day, a smoking room isn’t the answer.

    and yeah, sure, it’s easy to say that a publican can not require an employee to go into a smoking room. but you know it’s not that simple, and you know that workers would fear for their jobs and feel obligated to do so anyway.

    perhaps they could have a smoking room where there’s no service–where drinkers leave the room to go to the bar and get their drinks, and bus their own glasses? but i dunno. that seems like a contortionist solution–trying to bend every which way to please everyone.

  12. I’ve just learned that the law doesn’t in fact come into force for a month or two [not that that makes any difference].

    @Laurie – we are back to the ban on smoking subject here. Maybe I’ll address more of that tomorrow?

    @Ian – The point I’m making is that apart from exchequer returns [you’re a cynic, but you’re right!!!], this measure will actually encourage children to smoke more.

    If they just enforced the existing laws [not selling to under 18s], that would have a far greater impact. But, of course that is too complicated for them.

  13. sorry to get off topic. but they’re also looking at banning “loosies”–single cigarettes–here in st. paul because they say it leads to more kids smoking.

    that’s according to a world health organization study.

  14. Who am I to argue against the WHO? But in fact I would like to debate that question as to whether ‘loosies’ contribute to the smoking habit. I would argue that forcing people to buy in bulk is far worse.

    As I stated in my post, I used to buy ‘loosies’ two or three times a week, and they never got me hooked. I can state that as a fact, because I stopped for a long time after.

    It was only when I started buying by the twenty, that I had a ready supply and therefore smoked more. Then, of course I got hooked.

    I would argue that all cigarettes should be sold singly. If nothing else, it would force people to realise just how many they are smoking!!

  15. Grandad,
    You seem to be fighting the good fight on behalf of cigarette addicts.
    Surely the reason the government is pussy footing about over how best to ban smoking is because smokers vote. A smoker’s vote is worth exactly the same as the vote of someone who is not a drug addict. So it is reasonable for politicians to tread cautiously.
    Clearly it would be best to ban all smoking in public places, including open air places. Best surely to confine drug addicts to private places indoors out of sight. But we live in a liberal democracy where these things take time.

    Eventually, it will be socially unacceptable for anyone to smoke a cigarette in public. But that will take time. Slowly and surely the clamp-down tightens.

    Some would say it is time now for the revenge of the cigarette free world: people had to put up with people smoking all over them for ages; is it any wonder cigarette smokers are beginning to feel beleaguered?

    I too remember the Craven A’s, the Sweet Aftons… I remember when it used to be sexy to blow cigarette smoke in the face of a woman you fancied.

    Perhaps one way forward would be to start fining cigarette smokers who drop butts? Maybe the job of imposing fines would best let out to private companies who win tenders for the business? Maybe their employees could be paid according to the number of fines they levied?

    A slogan of “Clean streets for all” might win some public support. But it would be a tough and risky strategy for any prospect government to announce in advance of the election. Smokers tend to herd together outside buildings and might well gang together to swing marginal seats.

    Maybe it would be better to blame it on Brussels and put the word out that the EU requires an end to littering by smokers and that Ireland simply has no option but to comply. That way would have the advantage of blaming an external body that’s not all that popular already. Also there are some people about who are practised at offering that accusation.

    As a pipe smoker, all I expect you to do is put this in your pipe and smoke it. But what do you think?

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  17. I’m 100% with you here. I don’t mind the no-smoking in pubs and whatnot, but changing laws like this is just plain idiotic.

    I wish I could have bought single cigarettes or packs of 10 in Canada all of those times I was broke.

  18. OK, Omani. You have made quite a few points, so this is going to be a long one…..

    Firstly, if you read my post [first sentence para 5] you will see that I am not in favour of smoking. I wish the damn things had never been introduced. I am vehemently opposed to young people starting, and that is why I posted the piece. I believe it will exacerbate the situation.

    Next, you launch into a tirade against all smokers as if we carry some deadly disease. You advocate the banning of smoking in all open spaces? Why? Would you have someone arrested who was smoking a fag on the other side of the street? Would you begrudge someone having a smoke on a quiet country walk? You talk as if all smokers were out to get you [“Hey! There’s Omani! Let’s go blow smoke in his face”]. You talk about ‘revenge’?? You say “people had to put up with people smoking all over them for ages”? This is bordering on paranoia.

    I agree that someone smoking [say] on a crowded bus or train or in an enclosed room can be an irritation and very inconsiderate. That is why I have no objection to the ban in public transport etc. If I have visitors in my house I usually ask their permission before lighting up. I ask permission in my own house!. I would class myself as a considerate smoker and most smokers are like me.

    With regard to your comments on butts, I totally agree. They are an untidy mess. Dropping a cigarette butt is the same as dropping any other litter. There are existing litter laws, so that is already covered. However I would point out that in my opinion, chewing gum is a much worse source of litter, but you don’t mention that?

    Finally – a small point but one that is irritating me.
    You insist on smugly using the terms ‘addict’ and ‘drug addict’. Semantically you are correct, but those terms have modern connotations which I find offensive. Would you class all people with dependencies as ‘addicts’? The people who are on regular prescribed medicine? Are they ‘drug addicts’?

    I am unclear as to your final “all I expect you to do is put this in your pipe and smoke it? Are you accusing me of being unable to defend my arguments?

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  20. I don’t smoke and I don’t like going into smokey places, but I do NOT want smoking banned. If adults choose to smoke that is their own choice, as is their choice to get together and do it socially. It is my choice whether to subject myself to their smoke for the privilege of their comp[any, or to do a job. It is (or should be) no business of governments or anyone else.

    And those of you that support the smoking ban … just wait until the politicians target YOUR favourite vice …

  21. Strangely Tom, I would slightly disagree with you. I agree totally about choice in 90% of cases, but the one area where I think a ban is correct is in offices.

    I would hate to be a non-smoker in an office full of smokers all day.

    However, I think that there should be ‘smoking rooms’ in office blocks, just as there should be non-smoking areas in pubs.

    As a smoker, I respect the rights of non-smokers, but I completely agree that the governments should keep their noses out of it.

  22. Grandad,
    I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to continue our exchange.
    You rightly take me to task for forgetting that you are not in favour of cigarette smoking. I was in the wrong for beginning my comment in that manner.

    You are also right to sense that I favour a ban on all cigarette smoking in public. For me, this is a long term aspiration, unlikely to be realised in Ireland in my lifetime. But I expect it to happen before there will be a “United Ireland”.

    I guess it’ll happen in Grace’s lifetime but, considering the amount of uninhabited land on the island, it may never happen in rural areas. Perhaps it would be possible to zone the country and designate urban zones as no-cigarette-smoking-in-public areas?

    Unenforceable laws clutter statute books, so I see no point in advocating supporting legislation to ban such smoking in all public places. Again you are right to chide me for not thinking hard enough, especially about “quiet country walks”. Mind you, I would deprive everyone of the right to smoke cigarettes, even in the countryside, if I could think of a way of getting away with it. I simply don’t trust people to carry away the litter from their unfortunate habit. And I’m afraid I really dislike the sight of butts, and won’t sign up for aversion therapy.

    Where I most part company with you is over what you label “paranoia”. Never being able to go into a pub without straining to see through the smoke, without having to breath through my mouth… Never being able to say “actually I would prefer if you didn’t light up that cigarette…”

    You know how the world is so dominated by right handed people that it is hard to see how right-centred everything is? That’s how I found the world before the tide turned against cigarette smoking: it would be hard to exaggerate how dominant smoking culture was. I used to feel it would be bad mannered to say what I thought about the habit. And in many other arenas, I have been fairly assertive.

    These days I wouldn’t go to someone’s house if I thought it was going to smell of stale cigarette smoke or if there were going to be ashtrays full of butts anywhere in the house: I’d arrange to meet them in an Irish pub.

    I used the word “revenge” because I feel this gradual constriction on cigarette smokers is a thinly disguised, ever-ratcheting, form of slow torture for the poor addict. I imagine some addicts finding it hard to accept. But I remember how I never met a considerate smoker, never met one who simply didn’t light up, who simply never asked if it was OK to smoke. Those were long years.

    Of course, I come at this from the angle that I mainly dislike the look, the smell and the residue of cigarette smoking. For me, it is a bonus that cigarettes have been shown to cause cancer which is a socially expensive consequence. Even if it turned out to be untrue that smoking cigarettes cause cancer, I’d still want the habit banned.

    Unfortunately, the law is a necessary act. No amount of exhortation would persuade cigarette smokers to considently consider those who don’t smoke. The Irish, who go abroad on their holidays to countries where such smoking is legal, revert to their previous behaviour and light up in restaurants blowing smoke on top of the food of others. I’ve seen them and I have don’t nothing about it. I am one of those who needs the law to protect me. I am amazed how compliant cigarette smokers have proved to be. Perhaps inside every smoker, there lurks a person who yearns for a firm hand…

    Enough, enough I have trespassed on your blog for too long.

    The remark about putting that in your pipe and smoking it was a recollection of something my father, a pipesmoker, used to say often about many things.
    It wasn’t a serious comment, more of a quip.

    I’m surprised and pleased that you took the trouble to respond to what I said. But I should have known to expect something different from you. Your blog is something else.

  23. OK. Let’s see if we can find some common ground [and, in fact there is a lot].

    I hate cigarette smoke. But as a pipe smoker, it would be hypocritical of me to try to outlaw it. I hate littering of any kind. Cigarette butts are a nasty example, but I would say that chewing gum is worse. At least butts rapidly bio-degrade. Cigarette butts are also dangerous, as people are effectively flicking fire around at random. How many forest fires are caused by random cigarette butts?

    As a smoker, I have always been aware of other people. If I am a guest in someone’s house, I don’t light up unless invited. If I have a guest in my house I usually ask permission [yes – in my own house]. I would never smoke in any place where people are eating. I never did. Even now, in the open, I am aware of wind direction and I like to think I am considerate.

    Where we differ is in the application of laws. I am vehemently opposed to ‘nanny state’ laws. ‘Police state’ would be nearer the mark. For example, why have we a law obliging us to wear seat belts in cars? I know they save lives, and I never drive without one on. But if people are stupid enough to drive without them, then they should take the consequences. We should not have laws to protect ourselves. We should have education and common sense.

    And where would it end? There are many things I find highly offensive in public. Some of them are illegal, but some aren’t. Spitting? Urinating? Umbrellas that poke me in the eye? People yakking in mobile phones? People yelling at each other? Personal stereos? The list is endless, and in some cases they are personal distastes.

    To go off track a bit, why not make alcohol illegal? It causes far more damage to society. Look at the alcoholism, the damage to health, families and work. It causes car smashes. It causes violent aggression, and in some cases murder. It causes poverty. And it causes a lot of [non bio-degradable] litter as my garden will testify. So why pick on cigarettes?

  24. I picked on cigarette smoking and smokers because I came across your blog and the comments and I was inspired to express a few thoughts that had been bubbling about inside.

    If you get something going on chewing gum I’ll be minded to tell the story of how I felt when I found Grace (19 months) with a piece of chewed gum in her mouth. In case there is any ambiguity, the gum had been in at least one person’s mouth before Grace put it in her’s.

    Seat belts? I like that law. Without it, I would have to pay more for the health service. It saves me money. If only people who got injured in their car had to pay the full cost of their accidents…

    But we all know that society takes the bulk of the costs and redistributes it through a system of collective taxation. People who don’t belt up, and then have an injury as a result, pay a fraction of the full cost: isn’t that right?

    Wouldn’t your way of thinking, if implemented in full, require a radical transformation of the whole system of allocating and distributing costs in society? That’s not a conclusive argument against what you are advocating, I realise.

    The weather in Cork today is simply wonderful: cold, bright and dry. I should be outside.

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