A smoking ban in Wales will be introduced on 2nd April. In effect this means that you cannot light up at work, in clubs or bars.
However there are some exceptions to the law. One can light up in hotel rooms. The ban in Wales is a precursor to a ban on smoking in England. Rhodri Morgan, the First Minister announced that this ban will come into force a month before the assembly elections. Brian Gibbons the Health Minister claimed that this law will improve the health of the people in Wales.What are the benefits of such a ban? “We can reduce the effects of second-hand smoke and protect the public and workers from the harmful effects” claims Tony Jewell, Chief medical officer for Wales. He asserts that about 400 deaths every year will be averted because of the new law.
It is feared that several businesses will be affected by the law. Employers will have to put up notices in their premises, no-smoking notices, develop a smoke-free policy, remove all ashtrays, inform any person who is smoking that he is committing an offense and refusing service if the person continues to smoke in public. The worst affected businesses will be the pubs.
Patrick Mcgavigan, manager of the Blackweir Tavern, I sincerely think that this will be a problem for pubs especially at the beginning. We, for example, have as customers mostly students. Students want to drink and smoke.
Once this is forbidden, why should they come here? ` On the other hand there are people that feel that the ban on smoking may actually help pubs. George Spyrou, owner of Hasapiko in Cardiff,: I think it was about time this measure took place. People should be able to eat and dance and not feel ill because of the smoke.
` and he continues: ‘Pubs and restaurants will all be just fine. See in Ireland. Once smoking was banned, everyone ran to the pubs. `There is an apprehension that a ban on smoking may lead to a number of employees quitting from business. The employees may claim that they have a right to smoke. On the contrary there is no human right that allows smokers to light up in public places.
The European Social Charter grants rights to the protection of health and a healthy working environment that is likely to provide defense to non-smoking employees over smokers. Opposing the ban, the smokers are likely to challenge the legality of the ban. Robert Daniels, 40, insurance manager: I understand that smoking is not good but I don’t think that banning it is the solution. Why should I be forced not to smoke when I go out and buy my cigarettes? I do something completely legal. Where is my freedom? Who is protecting it? `The smokers claim that their freedom of choice gets affected. They put forward several arguments.
They claim that it has not been proved that passive smoking leads to ill health; they claim that self-regulation is the key and the ban will adversely affect business. The non-smokers are equally vociferous. They claim they have the right to protect themselves against passive smoking, the ban would compel several smokers to stop and that most people favor a ban on smoking. Mark Richards, 32, lawyer: ` This whole concept agrees with me completely. I hate it when my clothes have this awful odour.Moreover,I `m asthmatic and I’m suffocating when everyone around me smokes.`Some smokers want pubs and clubs not to be included in the ban.
Marta Suarez, 28, PR advisor: ` I personally always choose places where I can smoke. I don’t like smoke around me when i `m enjoying my dinner but I really want it when I’m out to clubs and pubs. `Labor Party MP for Sunderland North, Etherington says “”I accept the fact that 75 percent of the public do not smoke and do not want smoke around them, but I am also concerned about the 25 percent who do smoke. I do not want to see those people marginalized. That is not necessary. Most pubs have more than one room, and very few public houses, working men’s clubs or private clubs could not provide a room for smokers, properly ventilated and properly looked after.
That would eliminate the problem.”To sum, the 2nd April 2007 ban on smoking in Wales has a mixed reaction. The politicians support the ban. The ban is expected to reduce the level of smoking in Wales. However, there are voices of dissent that the ban may be harmful to business and may erode the rights of smokers.