|Should smoking be banned in public places?
As smokers become increasingly
stigmatised, many pubs and restaurants are thinking about banning
Out looks at whether Midlanders will be fuming mad if smoking
bans get the go-ahead.
Smoking was once seen as glamorous, sophisticated and
sexy, but not any more.
Smokers are increasingly shunned and barred from lighting
up, and things are likely to get worse.
The Midlands could be one of the first places in Britain
to introduce New York style smoking bans in bars and public places.
Supporters of the ban say that it could save thousands
of lives but smokers could be left fuming mad.
Government Health Warning
120,000 smokers die every year of smoking-related diseases
such as lung cancer and heart attacks, six times the number killed in
The British Medical Association estimates that at least
1,000 people die in the UK every year as a result of exposure to other
people's tobacco smoke.
public places could be a thing of the past
Despite the health warnings smokers seem to be everywhere
but their habit could be curtailed drastically if local Health Authorities
have their way.
War on tobacco
According to the World Health Organisation, one out of
every two long-term smokers will be killed by tobacco.
From 1985-2000, tobacco has killed more than 60 million
people in the developed countries alone, more than died in World War Two.
In the Midlands it's a similar story with high mortality
rates from smoking-related illnesses in the UK.
The Health Authority in the Midlands is concerned about
the statistics particularly as smoking is the world's number one preventable
that they're being stigmatisedSmokers complain
that they're being stigmatised
Dr Rod Griffiths, Director of Public Health for the West
Midlands, says that he would support Birmingham banning smokers from shops,
pubs and restaurants.
"This is the way the world is going Birmingham has
been renowned for its forward thinking and its mottos is 'forward'."
"The forward position is to stop smoking."
"What I'd like to see is an extension of no smoking
to big shopping malls, the larger stores, and a substantial number of
restaurants and pubs so people who don't smoke can go anywhere and not
be subjected to smoke."
Pubs remain one of the few sanctuaries for smokers at
present but they are at the front line when it comes to the arguments
over the dangers of passive smoking.
We decided to put the arguments to the test using bar
man and non smoker Steve Coleman.
in your eyes - Steve takes the test
Steve took a carbon monoxide test that was normal, followed
by a saliva test to detect nicotine levels that had been breathed through
Toward the end of his shift we returned to test Steve
and found a 50% increase in both nicotine and carbon monoxide in his body.
But what would be the effect of declaring war on tobacco,
and would smokers be happy to comply with any ban on smoking in public
The main reasons people give in support of a ban are
to improve their own health and the health of others, to to reduce unpleasant
smells, and prevent environmental damage
But opponents of a ban claim that a ban would be a breach
of civil liberties.
Thompson is against bans on smoking
Smokers at Birmingham's Old Joint Stock pub weren't impressed
by the idea.
"I think it's a terrible idea - it infringes on
people's rights," says one regular. Another described the idea as
Celebrity chef Anthony Worrall Thompson is also firmly
against any plans for Birmingham to go smoke-free.
"It's going to make your city look even messier
and you're going to have people standing outside offices on the pavement
and outside bars dropping cigarette butts," he argues.
The City That Never Smokes
The Midlands isn't the first place to consider banning
smoking in public places.
California was one of the first places to introduce a
no smoking policy five years ago. Other American states like Delaware
and Maryland have followed.
In March 2003, New York's Mayor introduced a controversial
smoking ban in the city's 20,000 bars, clubs and and restaurants.
This was despite resistance from bar proprietors and the city's 1.3 million
that they're being stigmatised
Bars that flout the ban are liable to fines of $400.
Inside Out travelled to New York to investigate whether the smoking ban
was having the desired effect in cutting smoking.
Reaction to the smoking ban in New York has been mixed.
Some businesses claim that trade is down and that smokers are deserting
bars in droves.
Others say that that the effect on businesses has been
minimal although smokers are now going out onto the streets to enjoy a
This has led to problems of noise in residential areas
and complaints about the growing heap of cigarette butts outside venues.
There is some evidence that smokers are staying home
or indulging in behind-doors smoking sessions in hotel rooms.
It's probably too soon to assess the full impact of the
ban in New York particularly on businesses.
In California, where the ban has been in place much longer,
there's evidence that bar sales haven't been affected.
73% of Californians now support the ban as opposed to
65% when it was first introduced.
Smoke and the City
PROS AND ANTIS
Smoking bans can help to reduce tobacco consumption.
Second-hand smoke is a serious hazard for staff working in bars
is a greater cause of death and disability than any other single
disease (World Health Organisation).
smokers should not have to get smelly and breathe in smoke.
Smoking bans are a key to reducing smoking and health problems.
are vulnerable to passive smoking in restaurants and cafes.
bans are an infringement of civil liberties.
ban can have a detrimental effect on trade in bars and restaurants.
No smoking bars are no fun.
A smoking ban will kill the pub trade.
and restaurants have to police the 'no smoking' regulations, and
this can lead to friction with customers.
Smoking bans stigmatise smokers.
jeopardise smokers and not drinkers - both are bad for your health.
Back in Britain, it was no surprise to find that drinkers
in the Old Joint Stock pub in Birmingham disagreed with bans on public
Some publicans are also concerned
that irate smoking customers could get aggressive with bar staff.
It's a fear borne out from experiences in New York where
a Manhattan bouncer was killed earlier this year when he tried to enforce
the tough new anti-smoking laws.
But it's not a view shared by pensioner Mo Davidson who
suffers from emphysema after 40 years of smoking.
She is permanently connected to an oxygen supply, and
strongly supports banning smoking in public places.
"Smoking causes disease, it causes illness and it
puts people like me where I am today," she says.
A Breath of Fresh Air?
More cities and regions in the UK are looking at the
idea of smoking bans with the aim of cutting down smoking- related diseases.
In August 2003 Pizza Hut became the first major UK restaurant
chain to ban smoking in all its eating places.
Its goal in snuffing out smoking was to protect its customers
and staff from the dangers of passive smoking.
In the Midlands there are already signs of diminishing
tolerance towards smoking in public places.
Smoking is already banned on the New Street Station in
Some cafes and restaurants have also banned smoking.
It's a trend that many more malls, bars and restaurants
are set to follow.
But how will smokers react?
Simon Clarke from tobacco lobby group Forest says that
more evidence is needed on the effects of passive smoking.
"At the moment there is no conclusive research one
way or the other," he says.
"Yes, let's have more research but let's not let
politicians introduce draconian bans," he contends.
Many smokers also argue that no smoking areas and segregation
is the best way to satisfy both the pro and anti-smoking lobbyists.
What Do You Think?
Do you think that smoking should be banned in public
in the West Midlands?
Is this the thin end of the wedge for smokers? Or do non smokers have
the right to breathe in fresh air?