Vice Squad
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Smoking Ban Update

Greetings from London, where Vice Squad arrived just in time to enjoy the least favorable (for US tourists) exchange rate in, oh, 26 years. So this posting will have to be short, as what US of A'er can afford British internet cafes?

The smoking ban implementation appears to be smooth. There were the ironic last legal smoking parties, paralleling similar gatherings when national alcohol Prohibition went into effect in the US. There are the malcontents, who include the musician Joe Jackson, who questions whether there's really any hard evidence that secondary tobacco smoke harms people (as Vice Squad noted in July 2004). And there's the pesky problem of what bars and restaurants will do with old ashtrays, the ones surviving informal removals by customers. And for the facts, we can turn to the Observer's malcontents article:

The Facts

· Shortly after the Second World War 80 per cent of men smoked. Today, about 24 per cent of the population continues to enjoy lighting up. Dramatic falls were seen in the Seventies and Eighties, but the rate of quitting has slowed to 0.4 per cent a year

· The government's wants just 17 per cent of Britons to be smoking by 2010

· The UK-wide smoking ban does not apply to three places: Alderney, Sark and the Isle of Man

· Smoking will also still be allowed in prisons, army barracks and care institutions

· 600,000 of Britain's 10 million smokers will give up as a result of the ban, the
government believes

· Age reduces addiction to nicotine. One third of 20- to 24-year-olds smoke, but just one in seven people over 60 do

· The Treasury takes over £4 of the typical £5.50 cost of a packet of 20 cigarettes in tax, and makes about £8bn a year from smokers

· It costs the NHS an estimated £1.5bn a year to treat smokers made ill by their habit

· Smoking kills about 100,000 Britons a year through cancer, lung conditions and heart problems. About 1,000 people a day are admitted to hospital in England with a smoking-related illness

Incidentally, between taxes and that exchange rate problem, a pack of decent cigs costs about $12 in London.

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