Pro-smoking’s bastion has a new crack. The Government of Ireland has decreed no smoking in workplaces and, gasp, that includes the almost 10,000 pubs that are a home away from home for many Irish. A pint and a cigarette will disappear from the sights to see touring the Emerald Isle (the first one has always been on my list, and the second one only as something to avoid if possible). No doubt pub owners will create outdoor terraces for smoking patrons, so totally avoiding smoke won’t go away. You’ll still have to run a fog gauntlet for the sweet reward of a smoke-free interior. But it’s a step in the right direction.
Is this a portend of good news from the rest of Europe? It appears so. Anti-smoking laws, already strong in the U.S., continue to gain footholds in areas formerly havens for smokers. Most regulations cite health reasons and the rising health-care cost a country endures treating its aging smokers, and there seems to be a groundswell of grass roots support for cleaner air wherever possible.
For years I’ve sought out smoke-free restaurants, etc., where possible. I don’t deny smokers their rights to smoke, just advocate isolation so they can all congregate in one place and enjoy the maximum benefit of that nasty habit. To be fair, we should be creating areas in restaurants for overeaters as well, so they can gorge amidst others who indulge in same fashion. And for that matter, let’s isolate all the tables with screaming kids…or better yet, create adult-only restaurants. You have to admit that last one would increase the odds of a pleasant evening at your local bistro.
Rights issues are always touchy, since you can’t enact legislation of any kind today that doesn’t infringe on someone’s rights. In a day and age when criminals often are accorded more “rights” than victims, it’s little surprise that we have become a blind society in terms of true right and wrong. Last week’s news included the airline pilot asking Christians aboard his flight to identify themselves and witness for Christ among the heathens. Whose rights were violate here and whose were protected? Who gave the Christians this sacrosanct right to proselytize? And did the non-Christians have equal time for their beliefs?
In a perfect world, everyone has rights and potential to enjoy them. Sorry, but this ain’t a perfect world, and not likely to ever rise to that level. In our dog-eat-dog world (apologies to dogs for ignoring *their* rights…) it’s the loudest and richest that usual prevail. But occasionally, such as in this trend to wards controlling public smoking, common sense wins.