STANDING OUTSIDE St. JOHN’s, Waterloo Road, (south, just about, London) a while ago one encountered an unforeseen aspect of the fascistic (oh yes, it is, Mr Editor!) ban on smoking. People have taken to smoking just outside ‘enclosed areas’, meaning ‘fresh air’ freaks get a face (and lung) full of tobacco smoke, while trying to enjoy a bit of said fresh air. Technically, I suppose, this is the ‘fault’ of the smokers. The law ought to have been even more fascistic and banned the weed altogether. Or it could have simply restricted areas where one could smoke. ‘Speakeasies’ for smokers could have been written into the Act forbidding smoking; even if it was only every tenth boozer in every town.
My last visit to a pub in the Republic of Ireland before the imposition of its tobacco-prohibition was in the ‘town’ (rather than the ‘gown’ / tourist) end of Galway’s Eyre Square. After a few pints one noticed something odd about the atmosphere, in a largely male, largely working class bar ‘ practically nobody was smoking. There were four or five people of student age smoking in a crowd of about a hundred. That situation was probably due to the tax-regime in ‘ ire’, which at that point decidedly favoured the wealthy. Working people could not afford to smoke and have the odd pint. The health message was probably also having an effect.
The ‘ban’ in ire has led to an innovation in Irish (or at least Dublin) architecture. Pubs with space at the back have sprouted practically all-enclosing glass screens. They’re nearly, but not quite, conservatories, for smokers who are technically not on the premises. They are also not drinking ‘on the street’ which is also illegal. Presumably the G rda Siochana nods as such quasi-legal matters, having more urgent things to do in a multi-national conurbation that has grown five-fold in twenty years. And has a huge problem with hard drugs, and even harder drug dealers.
In the meantime, in England, smokers will simply have to suffer, like the poor bloke on Seven Sisters Road standing just outside the Enkel Arms. He was trying to enjoy his fag, and a pint simultaneously, it’s just a pity there was a gale force wind (complete with lots of rain) blowing as he was making the attempt.