Smoking Ban Policy Analysis

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Smoking Ban Policy Analysis

Smoking Ban Policy Analysis


Since the inception of the smoking ban in UK, there has been a fair amount of public controversy in terms of its potential effects on the European economy, the healthcare system, tourism, and pub culture. At the level of public discourse, the ban has raised a variety of interesting issues and polarisations. These include debates on the rights of policy-makers versus individual freedoms; and on the potential economic effects of the resultant decline in alcohol sales and the impact upon tourism, versus the concerns of the public and of health officials regarding the effects of second-hand smoke.These debates illustrate how the various interest groups involved have, at moments, coincident, and at other moments divergent interests and agendas. However, the biggest political dichotomy has been between the two groups with the most power: the government on the one hand and, on the other, the capitalist class represented by the (multi)national alcohol and tobacco industries, and the petit-bourgeois class represented by publicans.


While many reacted with surprise at UK's becoming the first country in the world to implement a nation-wide blanket ban on smoking, because of the association of UK with pub culture, and therefore with smoking, there appears to have been a high rate of compliance with the anti-smoking law. This has led Minister for Health Micheal Martin to claim that the ban has been a success. Martin has had the support of the major trade unions for the ban, since it protects the rights of employees, and he was honoured by the World Health Organisation for his role in facilitating the ban (Zellers, Thomas & Ashe, 2007). Evidence shows that people who work in pubs in UK are particularly at risk from the harmful effects of ETS (Environmental Tobacco Smoke), since recorded rates of cotinine (a by-product of nicotine) measured were high. Given the high rate of smoking in UK-30 per cent of the population smokes-and the centrality of pub culture to European social life, it is clear that ETS presents a particular risk to pub employees and other workers in the hospitality industry. However, some have perceived this as a ploy to deflect attention from the crisis state of the European healthcare system, and as an attempt to deflect state responsibility for European healthcare by locating health as an individual, rather than a collective or state responsibility (Slater, 2000).

Martin Cullin TD, the environment minister, questioned whether this ban was 'following the political correctness of America', which raises questions both with regard to the ban as a symptom of the perceived 'Americanisation' of European culture-an issue of great debate in UK-and also with regard to whether this move is a 'smokescreen' for the fact that the European healthcare system is more likely to go in the direction of the neoliberal American model than that of more 'social democratic' models in Europe. The ban itself could potentially have positive effects on the infrastructure of public health (Mahon, ...
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