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Be a trendsetter not a follower

It is always nice to be reminded that history has no direction. The Times reports,

Austria will scrap ban on smoking in restaurants, Freedom Party declares

Austria is to break with a global trend in health policy by abandoning plans to ban smoking in bars and restaurants.

Full smoking prohibition was due to come in next May but will be shelved at the insistence of the far-right Freedom Party as a condition of joining a coalition with the Austrian conservatives.

The Freedom Party (FPO), which came third in elections in October, is in talks to form a government with the Austrian People’s Party (OVP).

Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the FPO, made overturning the ban, agreed in 2015, a top campaign pledge.

“I am proud of this excellent solution in the interests of non-smokers, smokers and restaurant owners,” Mr Strache, 48, a smoker who has tried to quit, said.

“The freedom to choose lives on. The existence of restaurants, particularly small ones, has been secured. Thousands of threatened jobs have been saved,” he said.

Some of the Times commenters say that their dislike of smoke is so strong that they will not be returning to Austria as tourists unless the ban is reinstated. That is their choice, although it does seem to me that their understandable preference for a non-smoking restaurant could be satisfied at a more local level than that of an entire nation.

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25 comments to Be a trendsetter not a follower

  • Lee Moore

    This is very dangerous indeed.

    People could begin to associate “far right” and “letting people do their thing”

    Something must be done.

    * strictly this is not quite a change of direction, it’s a pause. The march of history will resume shortly.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    I wonder how soon before the EU squashes this law? A day, a week, a month, a year?

  • MadRocketSci

    So I wonder what it is about ‘cigarette people’ that makes them unfit for the new socialist order? ‘Marijuana people’ are celebrated. ‘Cigarette people’ are persecuted in widely varied ways. It looks weird when trying to match this to puritanism: It seems to be some sort of tribalism but it isn’t about purity. Membership in these tribes is voluntary – who self selects and why?

    I wonder if the general stimulant properties of nicotine make people ‘less agreeable’ and more awake and if this is a threat to someone?

    Just playing with this thought: Being a stoned ‘rebel’ is hip and cool and celebrated. Being a cigarette smoking rebel is repulsive and disgusting and you must be expelled from polite society. Maybe cigarette rebels are more likely to actually do things (drive dangerous vehicles too fast, hook up with whoever they damn well please, cut class to do something.) Maybe stoners are tamer?

    (PS – I’ve never done either. I don’t deny the bad health effects of long-term smoking and I’ve had my grandparents go through quitting. But the sociology isn’t about that. Not at all. And it’s driven by some deep psychological process that I’ve never had a good instinctive understanding of.)

  • MadRocketSci

    I do deny the bad health effects of ‘secondhand smoke’ as being similar to personal use (it always seemed motivated mostly by the prohibitionist campaign – no one cared about secondhand marijuana smoke) – divide the volume of a typical room by the volume of a smoker’s lungs. Then grow a spine. :-/

  • Eric

    Some of the Times commenters say that their dislike of smoke is so strong that they will not be returning to Austria as tourists unless the ban is reinstated.

    I imagine for each nonsmoker tourist Austria loses it will gain at least one smoker.

    I’ll never forget struggling up a hill in Hall and being passed by an old lady on a ancient steel bike with a cigarette dangling from her lips.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Eric, if the old lady hadn’t been smoking, she’d have been in front of you all the way!

  • Eric

    The part that really hurt was the basket full of groceries.

  • Mr Ed

    Given a previous example of an Austrian politician who disliked smoking, one might ask why the Freedom Party are refusing to conform to their label.

  • it does seem to me that their understandable preference for a non-smoking restaurant could be satisfied at a more local level than that of an entire nation.

    I suspect Natalie knows well what the true desire of these commenters is – the one that can only be truly satisfied when their will is imposed on the entire world, not just entire nations. 🙂

    13 years ago, the place where I then had a contract issued a ruling that smokers (who already had to leave the building) must not wait in the street outside the entrance but walk round (and round) the block while smoking. When this rule was included in the list for today, I said (in tone more joking than serious), “I’d have thought they had enough rules to follow already” and a 20-something year-old we’d just hired replied, with emphasis, “They deserve it!” (I’d have been unsurprised if he’d tried to defend the rule on health grounds.)

  • bobby b

    “When this rule was included in the list for today, I said (in tone more joking than serious), “I’d have thought they had enough rules to follow already” and a 20-something year-old we’d just hired replied, with emphasis, “They deserve it!””

    This is exactly why the one method of smoking cessation that works – vaping – has been so poorly accepted by the would-be rulers: vapers are violating their commandment that we cease smoking in all aspects. They take it as a “cheat” of some sort, a violation of their will, a less-then-perfect acceptance on the vapers’ part of the superiority and goodness of their rule. It looks like smoking. It enrages them.

    So, even though vaping is already saving many lives, they’re assiduously banning it. They’re not just obnoxious; they’re killers.

  • Surellin

    In the immortal words of Kennedy, “Ich bin ein Osterreicher”.

  • Eric Tavenner

    MadRocketSci
    Nicotine does improve mental function while THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, reduces it and also makes the subject more docile. That is why tyrants hate tobacco and like marijuana.

  • staghounds

    Are there any “far left”, or even “left-wing”, parties in industrialised countries? A helpful tag never seems to be applied in that direction in the press.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Seven or eight years ago I went to Vienna for a business trip. I was in the Hilton (I think it was) and at the bar with my CEO and some folk; everyone, apart from me, smoked. And there was a supposed EU-ban in force.

    Over in non-EU Switzerland, smoking seems quite common. Zurich airport has a smoking room. It seems some of the Germanic/central European nations love to spark up. And the Dutch have famously enjoyed a smoke. Interesting to work out what is going on here.

  • “Some of the Times commenters say that their dislike of smoke is so strong that they will not be returning to Austria as tourists unless the ban is reinstated.”

    Having met the sort of people who make such statements, I consider this a bonus for the Austrians.

  • jim jones

    As a vegetarian I want to know when the EU is going to ban meat eating.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Those of us ancient enough to remember when the anti-smoking craze began may recollect that at first, the evil was strictly a matter of cigarettes; it was argued that up until the First World War, lung cancer was virtually unknown in America and that the inclusion of cigarettes in soldiers’ field rations shifted smokers away from harmless pipes and cigars (which burned at a lower temperature and didn’t produce carcinogens) and onto cigarettes.

    It would be amusing to propose restricting the current prohibitions against public smoking to cigarettes only, using this old argument. I suspect the prohibitionists would get quite huffy. 😛

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Natalie – I hate such phrases as “history has no reverse gear”.

    The decline of freedom can be reversed, there are no “laws of history”, no “whatever has evolved must be right”. Curse Hegel and his followers as well as Karl Marx and his followers.

    Those who hold that there are no objective standards, such as freedom, to judge what history has produced and that what history has produced can not be reversed are the real “Fascists” – for Mussolini and co went along with all this “laws of history” stuff, they just had their own spin on it.

    As for this specific matter – if is for the PRIVATE PROPERTY OWNER to decide whether or not there is smoking in their establishment.

  • Laird

    As for this specific matter – if is for the PRIVATE PROPERTY OWNER to decide whether or not there is smoking in their establishment.

    Precisely. This should be the sole criteria. owners of restaurants/bars/whatever should be able to decide for themselves whether to permit or prohibit smoking (i.e., what sort of clientelle they desire), or possibly to have smoking and non-smoking areas; prospective customers should then be able to decide whether or not to patronize such establishments; and employees should be able to decide whether they wish to to work there or not. All free choices. But unfortunately that’s not the case; the anti-smoking nazis have co-opted the entire discussion and no dissent is permitted (notwithstanding the fact that more recent studies have pretty much discredited the old ones showing that second-hand smoke is harmful).

    Personally, I don’t smoke and don’t like the smell; I wouldn’t patronize a restaurant which permitted it (unless they had a smoking area which was effectively separated, which rarely is the case). But that would be my choice, not necessarily that of others. I have no moral right to force the property owner to accede to my demands; my recourse is only that of any consumer: to deny him my patronage. But that never satisfies the nazis, does it?

  • bobby b

    “owners of restaurants/bars/whatever should be able to decide for themselves whether to permit or prohibit smoking . . .”

    Let me play the role of devil’s advocate here for a moment.

    (All of the following is predicated upon USA-centric thinking. Plus, I smoke, so don’t think this is an anti-smoking-driven position.)

    The prohibition of smoking in public facilities is not driven by any concern for the patrons. It is supposedly for the benefit of the workers in those establishments.

    It’s an established legal principle that employers can not predicate employment upon acceptance, by workers, of hazards that can be avoided. You cannot hire roofers to work without fall protection even if you pay them extra. You cannot ask your employees to sign waivers of OSHA protections for extra money, or just to get or keep their jobs.

    Back in 1992, the EPA released a report calling out second-hand smoke as a health hazard. (For reasons beyond this comment, it was pure garbage. But here we are.)

    This report provided the legal evidentiary cover to rule it a violation of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to subject employees to tobacco smoke. As a result of this, Workers Compensation laws in the states have held that employee exposure to tobacco smoke is enough to show injury to complaining employees. Thus, no Workers Compensation insurer will insure bars that allow smoking. Local ordinances also prohibit smoking, but it is OSHA and WC that really drove the change.

    This situation (in the US) cannot change until the EPA repudiates its report on second-hand smoke. This is scheduled to happen immediately after Leonardo DiCaprio disclaims global warming.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Very interesting, bobby. Your tale hath the ring of truth. Sort of “If you can’t get ’em by the short & curlies, get ’em by the other short & curlies,” only not.

    Of course, the whole purpose of the EPA nowadays is to make rules that are fully polymorphous, far beyond the bounds of what in a more innocent age than ours must have seemed the ultimate in polymorphous perversity.

    …Hm. Or “perverse polymorphosity”?

  • The explanation by bobby b (December 15, 2017 at 1:17 am) illustrates how the laws the left loves intimidate well beyond their immediate applications, and how the ‘scientific’ reports the left loves serve those agendas.

  • Alisa

    Bobby’s piece of devil’s advocacy shows OSHA to be as much of a devil as EPA.

  • Thailover

    My enemies are those who who are offended by freedom. The thing is, in an ACTUAL free market, the marketER tries like hell to appeal to the marketEES, i.e. customers. If people ACTUALLY want smoke free bars and resturants, that’s what they’ll get because businesses will go broke otherwise. If this is NOT what they want…then who the hell are these totalitarian jerks forcing people to purchase what they don’t want?

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