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Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Outbreak of common sense in Holland

The Dutch have always sought out sensible compromise when it comes to battles between the righteously indignant and the frowned-upon minority. Solutions which exclusively favour the prejudices and whims of the finger-waggers are never successful and inevitably lead to unintended consequences which can spiral out of control. The government in Holland seemed to have recognised this a long time ago and implemented common sense policies to very emotive subject material - as anyone who has ever visited Amsterdam can confirm.

That's why it was all the more baffling that the Dutch fell so laughably, and so comprehensively, for the fantasies of the anti-smoking berserkers last year.

After their particular brand of 'smokefree' legislation, you could legally get off your tits on wacky baccy, but if there was so much as a spindly shred of Drum halfzware rolled up with it, you could be frog-marched from the premises and the coffee shop owner issued with a fine. Fancy going behind a curtained window for a €50 bump ugly session? Geen probleem, but the post-coital fag would get you punished.

Nowhere else in the world were such ridiculous restrictions more starkly shown up as farce.

Fortunately, their courts also thought it was pretty indefensible too, as they ruled in July.

Smoking ban abandoned in small cafes

Health and safety inspectors will no longer check if small bars and cafes are observing the smoking ban, health minister Ab Klink said on Wednesday.

The decision follows a second court ruling which said the ban did not apply to bars without personnel.

So now, the Dutch health minister had a problem. A significant minority in his country were rejecting the smoking ban and had been vindicated in the courts. Did he do as UK elected representatives would do, that is, stick their fingers in their ears and sing loudly while happily still taking smoker cash?

No, actually. Ab Klink has realised that a compromise has to be found. Much like the ones that work very well with cannabis and prostitution. Rather than push for an unenforceable and, in places, wildly unpopular full prohibition, he has wisely looked for an alternative solution ... and come up with something that is, and has been, available to every legislature on the face of the planet.

Ventilation systems possible ‘solution’ to smoking ban

The health minister will present a research proposal during Friday’s cabinet meeting to investigate how ventilation systems could be used by the hospitality industry.

Klink may then decide businesses with adequate ventilation systems would not be required to create separate smoking rooms. In other words, smoking would be allowed throughout the premises.

Crikey! Ventilation. Now why didn't our government think of that?

Probably because, as is customary, they didn't bother to research it, merely left the decision up to {cough} unbiased organisations like the Smokefree Coalition to dismiss it out-of-hand for them.

Proper ventilation is a central plank of Freedom2Choose policy. It restores choice (remember that?) to both bar owners and customers alike and is a sensible, eminently workable, alternative to blanket smoking bans.

While ASH and their kind were/are quick to obsessively promote up-to-date junk science in support of draconian bans, their research into ventilation options were based on systems nearly two decades old. According to the bansturbators, technology had stood still since the 80s in that area - extractor fans were the best available and that just wouldn't do.

It won't surprise you to know that modern ventilation technology and air curtains are actually rather advanced in the 21st century. They are used in the control of toxic gases in many fields of industry. The control of a few wisps of smoke won't even make them break into a sweat and will leave the air circulation within licenced premises more safe than what you breathe in the street.

Ab Klink (if he isn't already aware, which I suspect he is) will no doubt find this out for himself and Holland will have, yet again, come up with an ingenious way of accomodating all their citizens - not just the ones who shout the loudest - whether they be raving puritan or indulgent hedonist.

Choice prevails. Job done. Everyone happy.

Wouldn't it be great if, one day, the lazy professional politicians we are saddled with in the UK also decided to devote an adequate proportion of their time to something that is relevant to 21% of their electorate, instead of viewing compromise as some sort of dangerous heresy?


TheBigYin said...

"Proper ventilation is a central plank of Freedom2Choose policy."

Indeed it is Dick. F2C has been sending out these cards to anyone politics who would listen for the past year or so: And on the back:

But they keep sticking their fingers in their ears singing la la la la. Here's hoping Ab sees sense, well, as far as any politician can.

Anonymous said...

Modern Air Management Systems make the air cleaner than the air outdoors, irrespective of whether smoking is being conducted or not.

It is also inexpensive to install.

It does make one wonder where our government's priorities lie? If they wish to alienate large sections of their citizens when simple, affordable solutions are available, so be it.

I will never forgive nor forget their incompetencies in managing this and I'm sure I'm not alone either.

Huge apologies need to be provided to the millions affected and the thousands who have lost their jobs and businesses as a result of their inadequate research and reliance on heavily-backed lobby/extremist groups.

Sincere apologies and heads bowed in shame also need to be given to the families of those who have lost their lives as a result of their actions in introducing a blanket ban and their pushing of 'suspect' stop-smoking drugs.


Barking Spider said...

I do hope Cameron is paying close attention to this.

Anonymous said...

Wow, some common sense in this stupid nanny world? Too bad it's halfway around the world!

Anonymous said...

Actually not that far away. Certainly close enough to be used as an example round the world - especially here. Fingers crossed for Friday in the Netherlands.

BTS said...

You can always rely on a bunch of stoners to come up with a good idea idea man..

timbone said...

When I first made a post ban visit to Benidorm in November 2007, I stood at a bar in a cabaret club and observed something I had not really thought about previously. Even though many of the punters (and the comedian onstage) were smoking, the air was clear.

Modern air conditioning. Not like the old kind which sucked the dirty air through a heat exchanger and pumped it back in again. Proper ventilation which sucks the dirty air out whilst clean air is pumped in at a preset temperature. Simples

Anonymous said...

It's 22%, not 21%. It went down to 21% 3 or 4 years ago, but it's been constant at 22% for the last couple.

vincent1 said...

Good for the Dutch, same here David, I will never forgive Labour either.
In Spain, you did not look for the smoke, just the ashtrays, we know ventilation/air filtration works, if it did not the unions who allow anyone into factories who need ventilation for certain jobs, should get sued for allowing union members into unsafe working conditions! Now either it works or it does not, we know it does.
I worked for over 25 years in the printing industry, should I be suing someone?

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