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« St Helier rejects al fresco dining smoking ban | Main | Business news »

Ban smoking in al fresco dining areas? Don't mention the Germans!

Next week the St Helier Roads Committee in Jersey will discuss a proposal to ban smoking in al fresco dining areas.

To date, and to the best of my knowledge, no other town or city in the British Isles (or Europe, come to that) has introduced such a ban.

A few years ago Brighton City Council included the idea in a public consultation but following a negative reaction the Council rejected proposals to extend the smoking ban to outdoor areas.

The Irish Government is currently sitting on a proposal to ban smoking in al fresco dining areas but no decision is imminent so St Helier could be the first to go down that route.

A few weeks ago, when the issue first raised its head, I was quoted in the Jersey Evening Post and on Monday Forest submitted a ten-page response to the Roads Committee consultation. It concluded:

Pubs, restaurants and cafes are private businesses. Whether they choose to allow smoking in al fresco dining areas, where there is no risk to anyone else's health, should be up to them. Pubs and bars took a huge hit from the smoking ban with many closing as a direct result. Why should the future of many more businesses – including cafes and restaurants – be put at risk on the altar of tobacco control?

Banning smoking outside, even in al fresco dining areas, is unfair and unreasonable and will do nothing to improve public health. We urge the St Helier Roads Committee to reject the proposal and give owners of outdoor dining areas the freedom to implement policies that best suit their business, not the agenda of a small group of anti-smoking zealots.

What I didn't add, although I was sorely tempted, was to say that if a ban on smoking in al fresco dining areas is introduced in St Helier then Germany, the country that occupied Jersey during the Second World War, will seem like a beacon of liberty in comparison.

Instead, in the hope that the Committee might spot the irony for themselves, I wrote:

Interestingly Germany represents one of the more liberal European nations when it comes to regulations on smoking in public places. Policies differ from state to state but in several states smoking is still allowed in small bars (at the owners’ discretion). One can only speculate why this is the case but some people believe that for historical reasons successive German governments have been reluctant to be too repressive in the way it treats its citizens, including those who choose to smoke.

Germany is not alone however and Austria also gives many cafes, bars and restaurants the right to be ‘smoking’ or ‘non-smoking’ indoors and out. In other EU member states such as Belgium there are few bars and restaurants with street or garden terraces that do not welcome smokers. Many 'adapt' their terraces to the cold weather, offering smokers a confortable place to smoke, drink and eat.

Choice, not prohibition, is the key to a free and liberal society and we urge the Roads Committee to follow their example and reject regressive, authoritarian regulations on small businesses and consumers of a legitimate product.

The Roads Committee will discuss the matter at their meeting on Wednesday December 12. I'll keep you posted.

See also: Forest responds to consultation on smoking in al fresco smoking areas.

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Reader Comments (8)

I regret going there last summer now. I wish I had spent my summer money in the more tolerant Germany instead. If the smokerphobics in Jersey ban smokers, while still no doubt expecting them to spend their money in the local economy, I certainly won't ever go again and will be sure to advise anyone who values compassion, equality and good hosptality, to avoid the island too.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 11:33 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

Btw, it was said that Nazi occupation of Jersey made good people better and bad people worse. I think the same could be said for the invasion of anti smokerism 😥

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 13:15 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

Not only should the outdoor smoking ban be soundly rejected, the indoor ban should be relaxed to allow separate smoking areas. There is essentially no risk from second hand smoke!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 19:00 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

In America , banning is a competitive sport. Once one place bans smoking (in bars, on patios, beaches, parks, your car, your apartment) others rush in to follow or even one-up. And the dominoes fall. It's important, therefore, to stop the first step.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 21:14 | Unregistered CommenterWaltC

Walt C. Too late. When they banned us from inside, the first domino fell. There will come a ban too many however which all smokers will have a duty to ignore.

Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 8:07 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

Until the myth that anti-smoking measures reduce lung cancer deaths is dispelled , this tide of smokerphobic ignorance will continue.

It is easy to show demonstrate anti smoking measures do not have any impact whatsoever on lung cancer deaths by simply comparing countries that have introduced anti smoking measures and counties that have not.

In the US people have given up smoking over many decades and in countries in the former soviet union smoking prevalence remains high to this very day.

Clearly lung cancer deaths have followed the same pattern, regardless of anti-smoking measures, therefore anti-smoking measures do not stop people from being killed by lung cancer.

Therefore smoking bans alfresco or otherwise can not possibly prevent lung cancer deaths.

Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 9:05 | Unregistered CommenterFredrik Eich

I agree with Walt, the first step is all important. Re smoking in outdoor dining areas, a lot of people will dismiss the St Helier case as being unimportant in the overall scheme of things, but the same was true when Ireland introduced the world’s first comprehensive public smoking ban.

At the time most people were focussed on cities such as New York and London. New York introduced an indoor smoking ban in 2003 but we successfully fought off a similar unilateral ban in London.

Unfortunately, while we focussed on London, like New York one of the world’s largest capital cities and therefore hugely influential, little was done to fight the introduction of the ban in Ireland which was perceived as a small and less influential country. Bad move because the Irish ban set off a domino effect in the rest of the British Isles.

The point is, the domino effect can start with the smallest of acorns (to mix metaphors) so we must be vigilant because it gets harder if momentum is allowed to build.

Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 11:12 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

I just posted this over at Frank's, posting it here too since the tweet mysteriously vaporised after I asked what would become of those of us who don't want to quit. I checked his timeline after it disappeared, and I could see the rest of his tweets, so I don't think it's that he blocked me. From one of the blokes at Smoke Free Foundation. It all sounds a bit final solution:

Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 18:39 | Unregistered CommenterRhys

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