The total smoking ban that comes in to being on the first of July of this year in England will be a great victory for all of us that have campaigned and hoped for this for years. It will be wonderful to go out without worrying if the evening will be ruined by smoke vaporesso pervading the room.
But there are potential downsides.
If smokers cannot smoke inside, where will they go? It is unrealistic to believe they will only smoke at home. We already see groups of smokers standing in the streets outside smokefree work places puffing away and dropping the ends of their cigarettes where they stand. Will this become the norm outside pubs, theatres and restaurants?
Will we have to walk through mounds of discarded cigarette stubs to get inside and will road cleaning services be increased at a cost to rate payers so that the debris can be removed?
If workers are prevented from smoking in situ will they take more breaks to feed their addiction? This reduces their efficiency and can cause problems with non-smokers who take only their allotted breaks and will feel hard done by if colleagues abuse the system to their own peculiar benefit.
Employees reduces the professional credibility and reputation of workplaces when they stand outside to smoke. When I attend my local hospital, I find it incredible that the entry doors are always surrounded by visitors, staff and even worse, patients, smoking.
I understand that smoking is an addiction and very hard to give up but if every day you are surrounded by the damage caused by smoking, as you are in hospital, and you still don’t give up, then what will ever make you take that step? Perhaps being made uncomfortable in order to smoke, by leaving a meal midway through, losing a coffee break to stand outside or braving rain or wind for a quick puff, may have the desired effect.