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I’ve often heard it claimed that the main reason for introducing the smoking ban in the UK was the protection of workers. This, of course, is completely spurious, as:

  • It is widely documented that the main driver for the ban was an attempt to reduce the prevalence of smoking
  • There is no scientifically credible evidence that environmental tobacco smoke represents a danger to health anyway
  • Even if there was some small danger, the protection of workers could easily have been achieved without a blanket ban – after all, smoking is still permitted in hotel roomsThere are many occupations that are still allowed, but where there is a far greater and better proven risk to health, such as farming, mining and quarrying, and deep sea fishing

But even if you taken the claim at face value, it rather falls over if a pub has no employees. So, the Netherlands has decided to lift its smoking ban for small “mom and pop” bars that are solely run by the proprietors. No doubt they will be looking forward to a substantial increase in trade.
The structure of the trade is different in this country, with very few pubs and bars that don’t employ any staff, but I would imagine many of the small evenings-only “box bars” that have opened in former shop premises could qualify – though no doubt the big pubs would whinge that they couldn’t compete on a level playing field. A growth in small, individual, independent bars could be just what the licensed trade needs.
And this news gives the lie to the assertion that there is “no going back” from the British smoking ban. If it can happen in Holland, it can happen here.