A ban on smoking outside may soon become a reality if the Royal Society for Public Health’s (RSPH) proposals are adopted. The areas specifically affected are outside restaurants, school gates, in parks and even in pub gardens. The RSPH cites the smoking ban from 2007 as an equivalent purpose to further “denormalise” smoking and make the habit even more inconvenient.
The RSPH report also found that 90 per cent of people believe nicotine to be harmful. Nicotine is a naturally occurring chemical which is found in most fruit and vegetables, especially aubergines. Most scientists agree that nicotine in small doses is as harmful as drinking a cup of coffee, as is electronic cigarette consumption.
The interesting fact is that the RSPH is asking for the exemption on outside bans for electronic cigarettes. Seeing electronic cigarettes as a gateway away from tobacco they want to encourage what is generally known to be “vaping”. An electronic cigarette has a battery that heats up nicotine and is diluted by propylene glycol to be drawn in through the mouth like a normal cigarette. It is estimated that there are now 2.6 million vapers in the UK. Propylene glycol is used in asthma inhalers and baby wipes and is considered entirely harmless.
Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the RSPH, is quoted as said: “Getting people on to nicotine rather than using tobacco would make a big difference to the public’s health.”
She adds: “Clearly we would rather people didn’t smoke, but in line with NICE (National Institute on Clinical Excellence) guidance on reducing the harm from tobacco, using safer forms of nicotine such as NRT and e-cigarettes are effective in helping people quit.”
The initiative has had a mixed review, even from vapers. Breitbart London spoke to Lorien Jollye of the New Nicotine Alliance, a registered charity that is promoting the informed use of electronic cigarettes. She told of why she welcomed, from health professionals, a “positive attitude to electronic cigarettes” and recognition that “nicotine ‘addiction’ has no negative behavioural aspects”. But she has sympathy for tobacco smokers.
She suggested that “smokers may become more unreachable” and even went as far as saying this is an example of anti-smoking “dehumanisation” which will only “increase antagonism towards smokers and possibly even vapers.”
Simon Clark of smoking rights group FOREST said on his blog ““While it makes sense to encourage smokers to switch from combustible cigarettes to electronic cigarettes, public health campaigns should be based on education not coercion and prohibition.
The RSPH also quote a poll from Populus that shows 50 per cent of patrons would be more likely to use pub gardens if smoking was banned. This is similar to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), the taxpayer funded anti-smoking charity who said in 2003, four years before the smoking ban in England that, “Smoking bans are good for business” and accused the hospitality industry of “crying wolf”.
However, the effect of the smoking ban on pubs was substantially negative and the people who have most to fear on outside bans are pub landlords.
The smoking bans brought into Britain and Ireland from 2004 to 2007 immediately saw a four-fold acceleration of pub closures.
Currently 38 per cent of pub visitors are smokers, 54 per cent before the ban.
This year the Campaign for Real Ale was bemoaning that there is no reduction in pubs closing, currently at the rate of twenty nine a week.
No doubt this report will be welcomed by anti-smoking advocates, but many pub landlords will be rightly worried.