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Friday, December 05, 2003

Ban it?

Do these experts learn nothing from history? In the news today is a proposed solution to passive smoking. A group of experts have proposed outlawing smoking altogether. Now, I accept the argument that passive smoking can be as dangerous as smoking itself. I have never even taken a drag from a cigarette but over the years I have had to suffer the smoke of my friends and family. I avoid this whenever I can and if there is a choice of a non-smoking bar or restaurant I will always take it. I welcomed the opening of a non-smoking pub in Swansea's Wind Street and would like to see more. However, I also recognise the right of smokers to wreck their own health if they wish. That is why I supported the installation of a smoking room in the Assembly. Civil rights work both ways. I respect the right of people to smoke if they respect my right not to inhale theirs. The obvious solution therefore is to allow smoking in private and to cleanse public areas such as restaurants and pubs of the evil habit. This works very successfully in California and New York without any loss of custom to the respective businesses. It should be imposed in the UK as well.

A ban of smoking in public is one thing. To ban it altogether would create a black market in tobacco similar to the prohibition era in the United States when alcohol was banned. It will actually lead to more people taking up the habit. These experts should learn, you cannot force choices onto people, you have to let them come to their own decisions. In the meantime, can all you smokers indulge in private in future so that I don't have to share it? Thank you.

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