UK to Ban Smoking in Public

Government to announce widespread smoking ban (AFP)

The government is to announce a complete ban on smoking in public places, a more radical anti-tobacco policy than previously heralded, reports said. The announcement was to be made by ministers on Monday, with Prime Minister Tony Blair considering the initiative a so-called “legacy issue” which will define his premiership, The Observer newspaper said. According to the paper, a government proposal paper will include a plan to ban all smoking in public places, including pubs, bars and restaurants.


Blair’s government has taken an increasingly tough line on tobacco and has been keeping a close eye on wide-ranging bans on all smoking in public places introduced in Ireland and Norway last year. These bans were controversial when they were introduced, but subsequent opinion polls have found them to be popular, particularly in Ireland.

Bans on the unpopular activity of unpopular minorities are always popular.

Personally, I hate the fact that bars and restaurants in Virginia and the District allow smoking because I find it nauseating to be in smoke-filled rooms. From a results perspective, I would love it if D.C. and Northern Virginia followed Maryland in banning this filthy practice.

As one who values freedom and property rights, however, I find it outrageous. Banning smoking in government buildings is perfectly reasonable, since people are forced to go there. No one is required to go to a bar for the evening. Bar owners should be free to make the determination of how best to serve their customers.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. rossi says:

    amen honey
    now in my NYC hood
    the entire bar crowd spends all their time outside smoking
    so its like an obstacle course to get around them
    and the apartments above have to leave their windows
    plus bar business went way the hell down

    i think smokers deserve rights too
    and there should be at least a smoking section in bars
    or the bars themselves and their employees
    should be able to decide whether they want to be a smoking or a non smoking bar
    everyone deserves a break
    not just non smokers
    and im a one time smoker
    turned non smoker

  2. Kristopher says:

    I must disagree entriely with Rossi and differ slightly with you James. I agree that it should be up to the bar owner. However, they should not be able to pretend that there is any such thing as a “non-smoking” section. If they’re going to allow smoking, they should be forced to allow it throughout their establishment, because that’s what’s happening to the smoke anyway. That is the ordinance we have in the City of Prattville and it has worked extremely well. I’ll be interested to see how the UK ban plays out, but I have a feeling it will not go well.

  3. The Limey says:
  4. McGehee says:

    Kristopher, reasonable people do not demand perfection.

  5. John Burgess says:

    A close approximation of “perfection” would be a situation that permitted bars and restaurants to decide whether they wanted to be “smoking” or “non-smoking”. No penalties, no preferences, no matter the decision, beyond the penalties and preferences of the marketplace.

    Choose a clientele, choose a staff, choose a menu that goes with your decision and leave it to the customers to decide.

  6. ICallMasICM says:

    ‘Tony Blair considering the initiative a so-called “legacy issue” which will define his premiership’

    Wow! Banning outdoor smoking will define his term as PM. Sort of like building the pyramids only on a little more intrusive.

  7. chris says:

    There is no state-wide ban on smoking in Maryland. Some localities have a ban, but not the whole state. If there is a ban, then every bar in Baltimore is in violation.

  8. James Joyner says:

    Chris: It must just be the adjacent counties to DC.

  9. The smoking ban in restaurants and bars in Boston has been a huge success. People who stopped going out because of the smoke love it, the staff love it, the bands love it.

    The smokers in the place we go to say they love it cause it makes you get up and walk outside every once in a while, instead of just sitting there drinking and smoking forever, getting moldy. They hang together outside for a while, then bop back in and have another beer. Smokers have created a whole secondary scene outside the bars.

    Plus business has gone up, not down, as some predicted. A very few of the hardcore who opposed it all along still object, but the numbers–and nearly everyone else–disagree.

    I play all the time at a bar that was the smokiest Irish bar this side of the Atlantic, and business has BOOMED since they made the smokers step outside. You couldn’t freaking breath in there before.

  10. Emil Eagle says:

    If smoking just made some people nauseous it would be a non-issue. But it is a major economic debilitator since it causes terminal diseases and hospitals are not allowed to refuse treatment to those who cannot afford it. Ultimately it’s the governments that end up bearing this burden, as with every other kind of drug addiction.

    Do any of you really want the tobacco industry to thrive on sucking the life out of people and their social institutions?

    Smokers deserve rights. Sure. So do cokeheads and tweakers. They have the same rights as every other citizen. But let’s get this straight: granting special privileges to them on the basis of chemical dependency is ludicrous. And nobody has the right to pursue their pleasure at the expense of the health of others.