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Sun 21 May 2017 08:52 AM

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It's time for restaurants to stop shaming smokers

Comment: Isn’t everyone entitled to a nice night out?

It's time for restaurants to stop shaming smokers

Everyone has taken the liberty to become the moral police when it comes to smokers. Smokers need to be punished, they say, for harming themselves and potentially harming those around them via second hand smoking.

Sitting in the smoking area at a lounge in Dubai Marina, I couldn’t help thinking that this punishment has gone a little too far.

Despite the lounge stretching across a full floor, its designated smoking area is rather pathetic. While it is ridiculously small for such a large lounge, the worst part is it has horrible ventilation — one of the tactics used to make the smoking experience as difficult and as lousy as possible — but which also increases health risks due to high levels of smoke trapped in a constricted area.

Health fanatics will say the tactic is really to benefit smokers; to help them quit smoking and ultimately save them from their harmful selves while simultaneously making the world a better and healthier place for everyone.

While they claim smokers are given the freedom to smoke in designated areas, they fail to recognise their aggressive stance: if you smoke, you’re going to be punished, because smoking is bad for you.

But smoking is undeniably bad for you. Smokers are not unaware of this.

The question here is — so what?

I can think of a long list of things that are just as bad. Every day, people make personal decisions that marginally increase their risks of dying. It’s a trade-off, put simply. If punishment is how this is being dealt with, then we might as well punish drivers. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 50 million people are injured in traffic accidents around the world, while 1.2 million die as a result of traffic crashes, meaning one person is killed every 25 seconds while driving.

Some might say it is absurd to compare smoking to driving, despite driving also marginally increasing our risk of dying — just like skydiving or riding motorbikes or eating fatty food. Yet who are we to tell someone to drive or not to drive? To eat fatty foods or not to eat fatty foods?

And why are smokers still being judged and punished for making a personal choice?

Anti-smoking enthusiasts will also argue that personal freedom ends when it violates another’s, but regulations have already been set in place (and more continue to be set) to protect non-smokers, who also have the personal choice of going to a non-smoking restaurant or sitting far from the designated smoking area.

So do we have to continue to make smokers’ lives more difficult even on a night out?

There is enough room in this world for smokers and non-smokers to co-exist without one side squeezing the other into a corner based on its moral compass or its health choices. Perhaps it is time we recognise that and see that smokers are at least entitled to, dare we say, proper ventilation.

Cig 2 years ago

I really cannot believe someone lost precious time publishing an article like this one. Smoking in public should be banned everywhere.

HLDXB 2 years ago

When education levels in the region increase you will see there will be no smoking at any restaurant.

Vik 2 years ago

Smokers should be ecstatic that they are even allowed to smoke indoors in this region. Almost every developed country has banned indoor smoking.
And before smokers ask for any sympathy at all, maybe ask yourself if you have been at all considerate to non-smokers in outlets that allow smoking anywhere. Most bars I go to, I can barely breathe, its like being inside a lit cigarette.
That said, ventilation is probably a good idea, but then again so is banning all indoor smoking.

Reader 2 years ago

Absolutely not. Next daft question?

AADXB 2 years ago

Shame on you ITP for publishing this article. I don't blame the author but I blame you for approving it for publishing.

While all civilised countries ban smoking in public places including outdoor shared spaces, ITP want to reverse the small steps UAE government took to reduce the harm of smoking!

reem 2 years ago

In the winter, everyone wants to enjoy the good weather, but smokers take over everywhere, not only restaurants. Non-smokers can only close the window and turn on the AC.

Rokan Rosso 2 years ago

Are you kidding me? In case you are not aware second hand smoke is just as harmful. I especially like that you referred to people looking out for their health as health fanatics.

Smoking should not be allowed in any indoor area. Especially one that is packed with people like restaurants and bars.

Lev 2 years ago

Is this article supposed to be satirical?

Smoking is banned at all outlets in developed countries for a reason. We inhale all your smoke and end up stinking, including our children, whether you're smoking outside or at a designated area. I can even tell when my neighbor is smoking at villa across the street.

Enjoy the fact that you can even smoke in venues for now; it's only a matter of time before you'll have to step outside (hopefully sooner than later).

twistedtory 2 years ago

I am a vehement non-smoker and suffer terrible headaches when exposed to smoke. If others want to smoke, let them, but restrict smoking to the enclosed areas the author describes so that the rest of us don't have to suffer as a result of their choices.
The author should be grateful she's not in Berkeley, CA, where you can not smoke in your car or in your rental property, not on the streets, any public space (including cafes, bars & restaurants) nor within 200ft of any doorway or entrance. And they most certainly don't allocate any smoking areas anywhere, like most of the world.

ADS 2 years ago

I think the writer of this article is definitely trolling the readers because this article made no sense whatsoever. "Everyone has taken the liberty to become the moral police when it comes to smokers." Then she goes on to provide car accidents and eating junk food as examples to justify smokers being entitled to "proper ventilation" and non-smokers are to be blamed for not leaving them be. Our parents and friends do tell us to not drive recklessly or to not eat bad. So the moral police argument is void for the smoking issue. Does this article take into consideration that smoking increases the risk of lung cancer by almost 20%-30% at home, workplace or frequently visited venues? So the masses including children must suffer from the actions of the few? Most developed countries don't allow smoking indoors for a reason. Horrible article.