I recently gave up smoking after being a heavy smoker for more than 20 years. What made me give up was that fact that I couldn’t smoke anywhere in public any more. In my country (the UK) smokers now have to stand outside in the cold if they want a fag. It takes the fun out of smoking. As does the outrageous sums of money you have to pay to buy cigarettes in Britain.

I recently went to Thailand for a holiday. I’ve been several times before. You always used to be able to smoke in hotel rooms, in bars and restaurants. Just about anywhere. In Bangkok they have now put in place rules banning smoking in public places. If you break the rules you face a 2,000 Thai Baht fine. This is a welcome development as Bangkok is already a heavily polluted city.

I took a plane down to Koh Samui. I stayed in a hotel in Chaweng Town. I was expecting the same rules to apply in the south of Thailand as they do in the capital. It was not the case. As with so many laws passed by the central government in Thailand, for one reason or another they are only applied selectively. Obviously tourist locations in Koh Samui don’t see the value in enforcing a non-smoking rule, so they ignore it. And they are allowed to ignore it.

I suppose this is to be expected in the ‘Land of the Free’. What this anecdote highlights is the growing gap between developed and developing countries in their fight to reduce smoker numbers. Without a firm political will and a culture of respecting and upholding the law initiatives to stop smoking are bound to have only limited success. I suspect that the developing world will be the main source of revenue for the tobacco companies in the future.