Monday, March 10, 2008

No to Licences for Pub Smoking Rooms

By Blad Tolstoy

It has been drawn to our attention through our parliamentary grapevines that the government is playing with the idea of issuing licences, at a cost, to pubs in order to enable them to set aside a room for smoking. If so, this is another typically sly idea from a very bad government.

It is worth remembering in the first place that one of the reasons why so many of our pubs, clubs, bingo halls and many other establishments in the hospitality and entertainment industries are going bust, or experiencing financial difficulties, is because of a bad law the government itself created, namely, the smoking ban, which is enshrined in the Health Act 2006.

If therefore, the government wants to permit establishments to set aside rooms for smoking it should do so without requiring a licence and licence fee. In fact, that is the least it can do after all the damage it has caused.

However, under the leadership of Chairman Brown, this government cannot resist any means it can to extract money from an already financially overburdened populace. Moreover, it has interfered excessively in personal lifestyles, telling so many lies to justify this practice and, in addition, it has failed to manage the economy effectively in a country where we are beginning to experience galloping inflation yet again. In a nutshell, this government is one of the worst in living memory.

Furthermore, the intelligent will ask the question as to how any pub landlord, charged what will probably be a handsome fee for a licence, will meet the cost? The most likely answer is that he or she will, in turn, charge their smoking customers some extra levy in order to do so. Speaking personally, I now ask myself whether I want to pay some extra fee in order to sit in some scrubby backroom in order to have a fag with my pint? The answer is: no, for smokers already contribute substantially to the government in terms of the tax added to cigarettes or tobacco at the point of sale, plus indirectly, via the corporation tax then levied on the profits of the tobacco companies.

We pay too much already.

I suspect that the government’s thinking does not end there and that it will look for some kind of double whammy. This is because it has already been proposed by many that smoking be allowed in locations which provide decent and modern air filtration systems. This means the government will not be happy solely with the requirement of the licence but will also add further to the costs of any establishment proprietor by demanding these systems as well. This is the way this government and anti smoking mentality, generally, thinks: make things as bloody awkward as possible and screw as much money from the situation as you can.

Now I totally support the idea of the introduction of modern air cleaning systems in smoking locations. Not because I believe the nonsense that secondary smoke, in the quantities in which we normally experience it, is a deadly toxic substance, because it isn’t, but because decent ventilation makes a location pleasanter and healthier to be in for everyone, including smokers. Decent ventilation is enough and this government can take its licences idea and shove it where the sun never shines!