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August 11, 2003 by AK

Ireland to ban smoking in pubs!

This is plain outrageous, if you ask me. As if California and New York weren’t enough. Americans get extremist occasionally, so considering the anti-smoking pathos of Clinton years, the bans were nothing extraordinary. But Ireland? “Cigarettes and alcohol are synonymous, at least in Irish culture,” says one bartender. No cig, no sip. As the CEO of a pub owner associations put it, “And there is a huge social impact. There are some places where the only social outlet is a pub.” He nailed it right there: pubs are important social institutions — centers of social cohesion so to say. In the US, churches also play this part, but in a Catholic country, churches are supposed to be places of worship, not hangouts. A whole social network is going to disappear.

Talk about minority rights! If 20% of the Irish are “hardcore” smokers; add the less devoted puffers, and you’ll get 30% or 40%. Across Europe, about a third of the adults smoke. If non-smokers are so worried about their own health, let them consider segregation. Why can’t smokers have bars and pubs for their own use only?

“Politicians may be reacting to constituents, but they are also responding to the high cost of smoking-related illnesses, which is why ministers of health and ministers of finance often work hand-in-hand to raise taxes on cigarettes,” according to the New York Times. How come they are only noticing the high costs now, after decades and decades of high smoking rates; now that those rates are actually falling?


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