One reason for banning smoking in the workplace, in public places, bars and in cars with non-smokers is to limit the deadly consequences of passive smoking – moderate exposure to passive smoking increases heart disease risks by 50%. Another reason is to increase the ‘user costs’ of smoking for those who pursue the deadly-dangerous habit of cigarette smoking. This motivation is becoming increasingly important particularly for high income smokers who can absorb the effects of hefty taxes on cigarettes. Taxes are good at encouraging low income smokers to quit but don’t work as well on the ‘well-to-do’.
The rich however cannot avoid the effect of bans which force them not to smoke while they work or enjoy themselves. If they are addicted to nicotine one way to avoid the costs of ‘busting for a fag’ but being unable to do so for much of their day is to simply quit. In response to the recent move to ban smoking in bars and pubs in Victoria they are doing just that in droves. Quit services are doing record business. An extremely positive outcome.
Another way of evading such user costs is to step outside your workplace or bar and have a smoke outside. This becomes particularly inconvenient if it is freezing cold outside. Some British pubs have installed heaters outside their establishments to reduce these user costs and to thereby reduce the effectivess of such bans. This heating has been condemned as a waste on money by some, such as London mayor Ken Livingstone, since most of the energy dissipates into the environment. I am much less concerned with this cost than with the effect such smoking has in terms of reducing incentives to quit. Keeping them cold and miserable while they inhale their carcinogens will further encourage quitting which, again, is extremely positive.