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Saturday, 5 May 2012

Once Upon A Civilised Time - Answers for Simon Clark

At Simon Clark's, he's posed some questions  in respect of the smoking ban's 5th anniversary. He's asking for comments and thoughts, so I thought I'd post my thoughts here:
  • Have you adapted to the ban? If so, how? 
I have -- no -- we have all been forced to adapt to the ban.  What choice is left for us when those who have defied the ban have been threatened with imprisonment and enormous fines?  How can anyone think this is acceptable, to jail people for smoking in their own private businesses?  It's an outrage.  And no one, not one politician has even tried to do anything about it, which is even more outrageous. Speaking out against it is not the same as doing something.
  • Has your social life changed since the ban?  Do you go to pubs as often as you did before?  If not, where do you drink and smoke?
We have no social life any longer.  We used to go out three times a week, at least.  Each week we would spend hundreds of pounds at restaurants and pubs. We had friends that joined us. We had favourite places to go and the business owners knew us by name, or at least by sight.  We had fun, and we felt welcome and a part of society.  Now, we go out maybe twice or three times per year, and even then it's for special occasions like birthdays or an anniversary.  These "happy moments" are indelibly marred by the fact that we have to stand outside in the cold and rain to smoke, whereas once upon a civilised time we could stay indoors and be warm and dry. Now we stay at home and rarely see our friends, who also stay at home.
  • Has your local pub made an effort to accommodate smokers?
Some have, some haven't.  If by effort you mean building a shabby lean-to that offers no shelter whatsoever from the wind, sure some have done that.  Animals get better shelters from the weather than smokers do.  This is partly because some local councils are very, very strict in what constitutes a legal shelter, or the pub lies in a conservation area and therefore nothing can be added to a structure.  But mainly it is due to excessive costs. Shelters are not cheap, and businesses are struggling to cover their costs as it is.  
  • Would it make a difference if it did or would you still feel unwelcome? 
It makes no difference at all.  It is not that we feel particularly unwelcome in pubs or restaurants.  We feel unwelcome in our own country.  We feel as though Britain does not want us here, that we do not belong in their healthy utopia.  We are now outcasts, a persecuted minority.  We are hated as much as any religious group or ethnicity, and the saddest part about it is that is completely acceptable to hate smokers, to attack us, to consider us as evil human beings for using a legal product by our own choice.  Convicted criminals get more sympathy than we do.  So, no, it makes no difference.
  • Do you feel less or more strongly about the ban five years on? 
How do you think we feel?  We are livid.  We feel more strongly about the ban with each passing hour. Do you think we like being reminded of that oppressive boot pressing down on our face every day when we go out?  To us, every No Smoking sign displayed on the frontage of every business, every railway station, every taxi, and the entire grounds of a hospital is a symbol of oppression and hate, akin to the swastika.  Businesses do not have a choice -- they have to put up those signs, which must be a certain size and colour according to the law, else they are fined and possibly put out of business for non-compliance.  Business owners now cower in fear of the Nanny State, unable or unwilling to fight it.  Does that sound like freedom to anyone?   Does that sound like a country you want to live in?  Every day this smoking ban goes on is a day we are not free to make our own choices.  

The worst part is that we have no natural allies on our side.  No one will dare challenge the Nanny State, now that the boot is firmly planted into this nation's soil.  Smokers have lost every battle in the UK.  All of them. Not one victory.  We will continue to lose the fight until we gain a few allies.  But I'm not holding my breath.  Because, honestly, we are looking to leave Britain permanently because it pains us to see how dreadful and hateful this little island has become in such a short time -- and it isn't just the attack on smokers. It's the attack on everyone who does not conform to the Nanny State's will. 

The Queen was wrong when she said we are a tolerant nation in her speech a few weeks ago.

We are not tolerant at all.  This is a nation of despots and haters.  And the good people, the ones who haven't already left, they have had their lives eviscerated and trampled upon by the State and those who seek to profit from it.