The smoking ban in the UK has in terms of health improvement almost certainly been a resounding success. It encouraged people like me, smokers who just wanted to quit, that little bit more incentive to take that step. Smoking used to be fun, even when you had to stand outside your office – it was still fun because all the interesting people were standing out with you. However when it started to happen every where the novelty started to wear off.
Like many smokers I had experiences of leaving a fun evening in a bar, desperate to grap a quick smoke. Sure I could go back in five minutes but I’d often missed the joke, or the punch line and felt like an outsider joining in again. My times in restaurants were even worse, did I enjoy or savour my food? Not really, because I was usually desperate for a smoke and when I could nip outside for one.
Is it a good and fair way to make people give up? Well probably not that fair but the end probably justifies the methods. I got fed up of standing outside, being alienated and looked down upon because I smoked and I stopped. Ultimately my only loss is a life shortening addiction, so it’s hard to muster up the energy to feel very persecuted.
There is a sadness and a regret though, seeing a loss of something that was once an integral part of British life – the pub. Now the pub was already on a downward trail due to drink drive laws, cheap supermarket booze and basically the fact that everyone was rather skint. Yet the last nail in the coffin certainly looked like it was caused by the smoking ban. For me a smoker, bars lost their appeal, slouching at the bar with a smoke was part of the experience. If I didn’t smoke, then sitting at home on the sofa with a can of beer seemed the better alternative.
There have been numerous surveys investigating the decline in the pub culture of the United Kingdom but in truth the reasons are all around us. Technology has a lot to blame, there are a myriad of entertainment options now compared to the limited number from a couple of decades ago. A chat in the pub, perhaps is not quite as appealing to many as relaxing in front of a 50 inch plasma drinking a fantastic red wine costing less than a couple of pints of mild, watching the latest blockbuster from Hollywood. It’s not just in the UK, on a recent trip to the USA I found many of my expat friends rarely went to the bars there either preferring to relax at home with their laptops running this application – watch BBC iPlayer in the USA and holding parties and get togethers at home,
Ultimately, it’s a price that’s certainly worth paying – smoking levels in the UK have fallen dramatically and the health benefits are growing. Of course, the world is changing and now the internet is bringing a social element into our own homes. There are issues with privacy and anonymity – see this site here http://www.onlineanonymity.org/ but there are steps you can take to reduce these risks.