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Monday
Oct022017

Was it something I wrote?

The latest edition of Boisdale Life is available now.

Published by Boisdale Restaurants, the magazine is said to have a readership of 400,000 "free thinking individuals".

The new issue was due to include an article I was asked to write about the tenth anniversary of the smoking ban.

Curiously it didn't run ("We had too much copy") but I wonder if this passage had anything to do with it:

Today younger generations are conditioned to believe that before the ban every pub and bar was a fug of toxic smoke that suffocated customers and staff without mercy. As a lifelong non-smoker and a regular pub goer for many years I can honestly remember only one occasion when I entered a pub and it was so smoky my eyes watered. Come the new millennium many bars had installed extremely effective air filtration systems so the smoky environments of old were increasingly rare.

Almost as nauseating is the smug claim that “I no longer stink or have to wash my clothes when I return from the pub.” Did no-one wash their clothes before the smoking ban? Did no-one ever sweat or get their clothes dirty in other ways? Was it the norm, before the smoking ban, to wear the same shirt or blouse day after day? I never recall this being a problem until a handful of anti-smoking zealots began to make an issue of it.

Even contributors to Boisdale Life have bought into this myth. At a lunch to mark the magazine’s fifth birthday earlier this year I was disappointed to find little support for amending the legislation. Interestingly that puts them at odds with the general public because even in recent years polls have consistently found a small majority in favour of allowing well-ventilated smoking rooms in pubs and clubs.

Frankly I sensed something that dare not speak its name – snobbery. At Boisdale it’s not enough to have a terrace where people can smoke. It has to be called a ‘Cigar Terrace’. I imagine it’s designed to appeal to a certain demographic that considers cigarettes to be a bit vulgar or second rate. The irony is that the impact of the smoking ban has arguably been worse for cigar smokers. If you want to smoke a cigarette you nip outside for five or ten minutes. It’s not ideal, especially in bad weather, but millions have adapted, albeit grudgingly, to the enforced change. A cigar, like a fine wine, needs to be enjoyed at a more leisurely pace, hence the attraction of Boisdale’s warm and comfortable smoking areas.

Annoyingly a similar thing happened last year when my colleague Rob Lyons, former deputy editor of Spiked, also submitted a piece at the magazine's request. That didn't run either.

Today the editor attempted to placate me by saying, "The good news is we want to make a bigger feature of the anniversary in the next magazine."

The next magazine? At the rate Boisdale Life is published (the previous issue appeared in May, the one before than in December), the next edition won't be published before the new year. Why would anyone feature the tenth anniversary of the smoking ban six months after the event?

To be honest, I don't care about the article not appearing. What I care about is being messed around. Can you tell?

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Reader Comments (4)

You are right: smoking bans are much worse for cigar and pipe smokers because (as you say) we cannot smoke them in 5 minutes brakes and the pleasure is to enjoy the aroma. For this reason I only smoke my cigars and pipes at home or outdoors when the weather allows.

On the issue of the "stink" of smoke, there is nothing "scientific" or intrinsic about it: its perception and the degree it may annoy is a matter of exposure conditions, like with every agent. The fact that it has become such a disturbing social issue (which annoys under any condition) is purely a matter of social convention.

I know of a veritable anecdote that can illustrate this very well. I knew of a couple that back in the early 1980's did a car trip around the Soviet Union, something very unusual in those days. Many places were closed to foreigners but they did visit a lot of small medium cities in the Russian heartland. Rank and file Soviet citizens in those days used cheap polyester clothing and it was a hot summer. My friends rested from a long drive and took a tramway in a mid sized city. They were overwhelmed by the intense odor of the passengers sweat, made specially penetrating because of the polyester clothing. However, the passengers didn't care and didn't notice, they were completely used to this odor. The same happens with the odor of tobacco smoke odor: under normal ventilation conditions people before the 1990's were simply used to it. It was only an issue (as you say) if you were stuck with 50 smokers in a small badly ventilated enclosure.

Finally, intense odor is a bad indicator of toxicity (concentrations beyond agreed acceptable levels), a lot of toxic substances are odorless and a lot of heavy smelling substances are irritating but not toxic. CO, formaldehyde and tobacco specific nitrosamines (among many) identified cancerigenous compounds in tobacco smoke are odorless.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at 2:46 | Unregistered CommenterRoberto

Ah well, we should all be used to being snubbed by now. To be honest, one reason Boisdales no longer appeals to me is because we are treated very much like third class citizens after cigar smokers and vapers.

It is a very expensive place to end up outside all of the time even with the granny blankets they offer to keep out the chill.

Because of the appalling way smokers are generally treated by the hospitality industry, I save all my hard earned cash for summer abroad and put my money in the pockets of those who respect me, my choice, and my consumer spending power.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at 12:46 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Switzerland is a very smoker friendly country Pat with many smoker friendly bars as are the small proprietor run bars in Copenhagen.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at 18:25 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy Goodacre

It is on my list Timothy.

The UK is the European leader in spiteful bans and restrictions on smokers. Once you get out of the country and into the continent, there is much tolerance and respect to be found.

Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 12:49 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

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