Gavin on the smoking ban
"Yes, Frank, smoke-free workplaces are a great idea. But why the qualification? Why is one persons workplace better than another?"
Not all workplaces are the same, that's the whole point about diversity and the free market. If you take up a job, you already know what the workplace is like. If it is so dreadful you may decide not to take up the job, that is a free choice.
"If a government imposed ban is not the solution, then what is?
You rather beg the question here. You assume that a "solution" is required. Trust people to look out for their own interests, they always do. If the market operates properly (If it were easier to open up pubs) non-smoking pubs could compete with smoking pubs.
"God knows the Vintners rant on about 'air-changes per hour', but to anyone who's worked in bars you know that the effect of that is negligible."
The thing is, you either want to work in a bar or not. If it is so unpleasant as things are, get a different job. Or better, open your own non-smoking pub.
"Secondly, there is an argument from principle. I believe that people have a right to work in a healthy environment - most especially where an unhealthy working environment can be changed instantly into a healthy one - as in the case of bars. It is incorrect to say that smokers are all for it, indeed in the polls I read, many smokers were in favour of the ban."
Nobody has a "right to work in a healthy environment", nobody has a "right to work" for God's sake. How could such a "right" be guaranteed? This is nothing to do with a "right to work in a healthy environment" it is about the government tearing up the implicit contract entered into voluntarily between two parties: Employer: I offer you a job in a smoky workplace
Employee: I accept that job.
"Thirdly, damn right I'm a vested interest, as is my health, and the health of all bar workers."
Thus your argument is based on self-interest and is not necessarily a principled position. Arguing "this is good for me" is not the same as arguing "this is good for everyone".
"I'm not sure of the validity of the position that "publicans recognise that smoking on premises attracts more smoking punters than deters non-smokers". Publicans don't care whether people smoke or not; they want them to buy beer."
Yes, and if more people turn up to buy beer, indifferent to the smoking or expecting to be able to smoke, than would turn up to buy beer if no smoking were permitted, publicans will prefer to permit smoking.
"It just so happens to some of the public are addicted to a substance that pollutes the environment around them, badly affecting the health of their colleagues and the staff on a premises. The question is whether a persons right to smoke precedes other people's right to health, and whether that position is voluntary or involuntary."
Again, there is no "right to smoke" or "right to a smoke-free environment". Nobody is forcing you to work in or patronise a smoky bar.
"Fourth, you compare smoking to a hobby. It's not, it's a dangerous addiction. People playing tennis is a hobby, and hey I dont mind people playing tennis - people playing cards in a pub is a hobby, and fine, there's no cards affecting my health."
I don't compare smoking to a hobby, I am trying to get you to look outside your own interest for a moment and imagine a government restriction on something you enjoy. Regardless of the merits of the ban, let's say the government could show that tennis was a dangerous sport (my brother-in-law dislocated his shoulder twice playing it) and that in the interests of health tennis-playing should be rationed. Would you accept that the government had a "right" to regulate your behaviour this way?
"In my view, the government, just like in other employment legislation, has a right to give rights to workers. I have a right to x days holidays, I have a right to a healthy working environment."
What did you think the environment would be like when you took up the job? It obviously wasn't a clincher. Did you ever threaten to strike because of the danger to your health? This is why I say that you would get this benefit "free". It is logical and rational for you to argue in favour of it but that doesn't mean it is a good thing for everybody else.
The problem, Gavin, with your argument as set out is that you take for granted something which most of us who disagree with you don't: That the government has a right, duty or obligation to micro-manage normal social interaction in order to achieve some overall societal benefit. That is why issues about passive smoking health risks, or the merits of various types of workplaces or how easy it is to implement or police the ban are irrelevant. Even if all of those points were as you argue it still doesn't justify the government's intervention.