A fortnight without internet access and a television signal is not the liberating experience the tree-huggers and back-to-the-landers suggest it is. In fact it sucks. And the first thing I see when I get a television picture back is news footage of a group of protestors holding a placard that read "No Fee's (sic)". Call me an old stick in the mud if you wish, but I can't sympathise with University students who put an apostrophe in a non-possessive plural. It does, however, reminds us what is at the root of the Higher Education's funding problem—too many people going to University. And when I say 'people', I mean 'illiterate cretins'.
Anyway, I also see that another European country is, ahem, going smokefree...
Serbia introduces tough smoking ban
Bearing in mind that Serbia is well outside of the Anglosphere, how 'tough' do you think this ban really is?
The law bans smoking in state institutions and buildings, schools, social care institutions, buildings used for cultural and sports activities, and media buildings.
Schools, hospitals and government buildings. OK. But what about the places where people actually want to smoke?
Smaller bars and cafes can decide to be smoke-free or not, while bigger ones, as well as restaurants have to provide a non-smoking space that would occupy more than a half of the premises and be properly ventilated.
Companies are allowed to provide a smoking area, but also to introduce anti-tobacco measures in all other spaces.
So, to summarise, large bars and restaurants have to provide a non-smoking area, and small bars can do what they like. Meanwhile businesses are "allowed" to ban smoking wherever they like, as if they couldn't do that already. Sounds like a workable and reasonable compromise to accommodate everybody except the "loud-mouthed anti-smoking zealots, the wackos and the grab-bag full of nuts" (© Dave Goerlitz), thereby making Serbia typical of the majority of countries in Europe, and the vast majority of countries worldwide (see numerous previous posts, for example this one). Can we have a "tough" smoking ban too, please? Like Holland?
When I was in Budapest last year, I was interviewed by a woman who expressed surprise that while countries like Hungary were happily shaking off the yoke of Communism and embracing freedom, people in the West seem to be moving in the opposite direction, smoking bans being an obvious example. I didn't really have an answer for that. Nor can I explain why smoking bans are so much more popular on the left than the right (see this recent article in the uber-socialist Herald Tribune).
Meanwhile, a friend e-mails me from Israel:
It appears that there is a smoking ban in restaurants and pubs, although I went into one place, a kind of speak-easy underground joint hidden behind a normal wine shop—definitely not 'adequately ventilated'—everyone smoking away happy as Larry under big "no smoking" signs on the wall.
I was confused. I asked the barmaid for a beer—which came with a free whisky chaser!—then, being a polite Englishman, enquired after an ashtray. She said to just use the floor. Apparently it turns out the fine is on the individual not the establishment so some places choose to allow smoking if the police come knocking everyone chucks their fags on the floor—making it hard to prove the crime on anyone person.