There has been a bit of a furore over the last couple of days in the U.K.
The British Medical Association wants smoking banned in all cars.
There are so many things that are wrong about this that I’m not sure where to start.
First of all, the figures used by the BMA [supposedly the medical authority] that smoke in cars is 23 times stronger that the levels found in a smoky pub are based on nothing more than junk science and have actually been retracted in a very quiet press release. Of course the damage is done now and the Antis are gleefully quoting the original figure.
All that apart, I would ask what right anyone has to dictate what I do in my car? Maybe an argument could be made for not smoking in a car with children present but what about when I am the only occupant? Are they claiming that my smoking produces second hand smoke that may kill me? My car is my own space. I paid heavily for the car and each year I pay heavily for insurance, road tax and a car test. Every time I pull into the pumps I give the government another great whack of my cash. I pay dearly to run my car and no one is going to tell me what I can or cannot do in it. As far as I am concerned, if I want to do something in my car that doesn’t affect the safety of my driving, I will do it.
There is not one single justification for this intrusion into privacy. It is just another spiteful attempt to denormalise smokers and presumably to extort more money from them in fines.
You may wonder why I am so worked up about something that won’t affect me, but unfortunately Ireland seems to have signed up to the race to see who can produce the harshest anti-smoker regime. What happens in the UK will inevitably happen here.
One aspect of this proposed ban which I haven’t seen mentioned is the effect of forcing drivers not to smoke. Smoking has been proved to improve concentration, and also smokers find the odd cigarette to be soothing. Both these benefits can only be an aid to driving. Similarly, preventing someone from smoking can produce a shortness of temper and a distraction.
I would consider myself to be a reasonably good driver. In the forty years I have been driving I have had many accidents – too many to count, but I was to blame in only one of those accidents when my brakes failed. I consider myself to be a calm and considerate driver. I may pass the odd comment when I witness bad driving but I’m not one to wave two fingers out the window or even to yell profanities.
Some years ago, I stopped smoking. One of the things I noticed was the way my driving changed. I admit that my driving became atrocious. I became aggressive and angry, and shudder to think of the accidents that I very nearly caused. There were a few reasons why I went back to smoking the pipe, and one of the major ones was because I literally terrified of my own driving. Once I started smoking again, the old placid, considerate driver returned.
I would therefore make a simple prediction. If this ban is imposed in the U.K. I predict that the accident rate is going to noticeably increase as will the incidents of “road rage”.
You have been warned.
This article also appears in Smoking out the Truth.