Don’t hold your breath.
Law makers, some within the ruling Law and Justice party, have proposed a bill in parliament to ban Poles smoking in public places.
The move comes as England is preparing to do the same on July 1.
But will the Polish government support such a fashionable, but still draconian, law?
No. Not this government. Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has questioned if ‘democracy’ and restricting freedoms such as having a smoke in the pub are compatible.
Quite apart from the fact that PM Kaczynski’s view of sovereignty over our own bodies is rather….well, selective, he has a point.
The health fascists would answer that smoking harms others too – look at all the passive smoking that bar tenders, or non-smoking customers, have to do in pubs.
Others would retort that the evidence of how dangerous passive smoking is, is a little hazy, to say the least.
But banning smoking is not just about health. The UK government, for instance, is using smoking – just as it is urging us to ‘reduce our carbon footprints’ – as a new kind of pseudo-morality. Smoking is not just bad for our health; it’s a sign of ‘bad morals’, too (in western, relativist societies that are not really sure what a ‘bad moral’ is anymore). Smoking has become an easy issue to make a pseudo-moral consensus from.
But not all European countries will be as keen to follow the UK or Ireland’s example.
Polish politicians are scared of the voting power of smokers – they wouldn’t even dare to put a high tax on cigarettes (a pack of 20 is still only a couple of dollars).
And in Germany the last government to make such a law was the Nazis – so modern governments don’t want to go there.
And what about the Dutch government? I am just back from Amsterdam, and it is clear that if a Dutch government banned smoking (Jamaican cigarettes) in ‘coffee bars’ then they would watch a rather huge chunk of their tourist revenue go up in smoke.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Posted by beatroot at 6/06/2007