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Smoking Debate Decision Thread!

  • 27-04-2004 8:41pm
    Business & Finance Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 32,387 Mod ✭✭✭✭ DeVore

    In the next 48 hours the judges will try and give their point of view on the debate and why they voted as they did... I'll write up my thoughts when I get a chance.

    Fergus, Karlin... you are the guest judges so please fire ahead... I'll wrap things up.


    Who do you think debated the best? 0 votes

    The FOR Compromise Team
    0% 0 votes
    The AGAINST Compromise Team
    0% 0 votes


  • Registered Users Posts: 28 Fergus Cassidy

    To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did.
    I ought to know because I've done it a thousand times. -- Mark Twain

    As a cigarette slowly burns in my ashtray, the only will power I've used over the course of this excellent debate has been willing the 'For Compromise' side to succeed.

    As the debate ebbed and flowed, many of the issues surrounding smoking were given a thorough airing. Some relevant, others not so much. The issue was smoking in pubs and only that.

    Nicotine addiction is a reality and instituting an outright ban on smoking in public without any understanding or sympathy for that addiction would be a serious mistake IMO. The notion that all smokers can be shamed or witch-hunted into giving up is nonsense.

    But because we know the harm caused by smoking, there is no doubt in my mind that it has to be controlled in enclosed spaces where people gather. This process started with buses, then cinemas, restaurants and now pubs.

    So my vote is going to the 'Against Compromise' team for this reason: being able to smoke in beer gardens and other open areas (even outside pubs) IS the compromise for smokers. It struck home when I read it.

    I've been in that pub in Monkstown which sold for over Euro8m and it has an extensive outdoor seating area. This is the direction many pubs (not all) will go in the future.

    The 'For Compromise' side made the most of a sticky wicket. Fair dues, but when it comes to the harm resulting from passive smoking, there really is no room to manoeuvre.

    Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed the debate. I'm a big fan of Boards but wondered was there room for serious flame-proof discussions. Now I know. Congrats to all.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 86 ✭✭ karlin

    One of the decisions that has most surprised me in the more-years-than-I-care -to-remember period of time I've lived in Ireland is the ban on smoking.

    I arrived in an Ireland wreathed in smoke in the 1980s -- you could smoke everywhere, including maternity wards in hospitals, cinemas, theatres, trains and buses. I was a student at Trinity in the years when the Arts Building was wreathed in fumes as students puffed away over cups of cheap tea. You were a weirdo if you added "non-smokers only" to your Flatmate Wanted notice at Front Gate. And in pubs it was practically an entry requirement to be able to hold a ciggie in one hand -- the better to punctuate the long story you were telling -- while clutching a pint in the other.

    So this was not a place I ever expected to see go smoke-free.

    Now that it has, is there room for compromise on the way the ban was implemeted? Here's my response to some of the debate arguments.

    I thought this was really the main point of the no compromise side, succinctly put: "Let's put the "nanny state" myth to bed straight away: this is not about protecting smokers from themselves; it's about protecting non-smokers from smokers...The fact is that there already is a compromise, and in many respects an ideal one: with the current setup, smokers can smoke - it's still legal - and non-smokers can breathe clean air." (

    Nonetheless, is there not room for some flexibility? California's anti-smoking laws are less stringent than those enacted here, for example. Yet I wasn't very persuaded by the for-compromise arguments early on.

    I was not convinced be the 'have pity on the hospital patients seeking a last few comforting smokes' notion. Most hospitals in North America went totally non-smoking years ago, with little to no complaint. And other addictions would not be indulged in the terminally ill in hospitals -- even a methadone argument is nonsensical, as any patient can avail of nicotine patches which *legally* supply the addictive substance without requiring all to share the experience.

    I was unpersuaded too by the arguments to have some pubs go smoking-only, with various elements set to discourage most people from going, such as increased drink prices: "Nobody is going to pay and extra one or two euros a pint for the privilege of breathing in other peoples smoke. " ( Such an argument might work in more price-intolerant societies but already one pays €4-5 for a pint in many Dublin hostelries, which are packed to the gills every night of the week. Irish people have shown repeatedly that high prices do not change behaviour (though higher taxes on cigarettes has had some effect on smokers themselves).

    I am more convinced by the notion that some pubs in which the proprietor allows people to smoke should be allowed. In California many small bars run by the proprietor can legally allow smoking. However the proprietor ALONE must be the worker. You cannot subject bar staff -- including one's own family -- to work in a smoke-filled environment. So I wouldn't agree that family-run pubs should be exempt, but sole-proprietor pubs, perhaps. I found Fitz's arguments on these issues persuasive (; as well as oscarBravo's (

    So far, Round One to the Against Compromise side.

    Next round: I laughed out loud (in a supportive way!) at Brigadier's arguments here: Indeed. And this, also from the Brigadier, was a smart move -- to call several leading pubs and restaurants and ask if they'd been hit by the ban. All said no. Now, one could argue that Dublin is different from places down the country but in the case of these pubs, they are ALL on my list of pubs that were so smoky pre-ban that I would not have visited. So the vast majority of customers (who ARE in Dublin, after all) do seem to be adapting without too many issues if these places are not being adversely affected. I also think country pubs are far more likely to have the space to add a beer garden than in Dublin, where land is so expensive. Most country pubs I've been to have ample space to adapt to an outdoor smokers area. I actually think many Dublin pubs/restaurants have been greatly improved in atmosphere (no pun intended) by their decision to open up outdoor tables!

    I think irish1 needs to be cautious on quoting statistics that seem to indicate the ban in NY has damaged business -- it has only briefly been in place. The California ban is much older (over 5 years) and now hardly any businesses report any continuing problems with business in a recent state survey to evaluate the impact, and indeed, *over 75% of bar owners who initially were against the ban now are supportive of it*. But I welcomed the introduction of some statistics, as they'd been mostly missing!

    The ventilation argument was raised several times as grounds for compromise. But nonsmokers can verify (as can all studies done on such systems that I've come across) that ventilation doesn't work. Exhibit A: The Front Lounge and O'Neill's on Sussex St. Both have ventilation systems and got them early on. Both are pubs that have been intolerable for someone like me, with a *mild* allergy to cigarette smoke. I don't have severe reactions but I stuff up and start to sneeze when a room is moderately smoky. I have never yet been in a pub prior to the ban where I didn't have this reaction (sort of like a canary in a coalmine... :rolleyes: ). The Front Lounge was unbearably smoky all the time.

    I found it interesting that no one separated out the fact that cigarettes are addictive from why they are so, during the debate. Nicotine -- the addictive substance -- is not of itself that harmful -- though it is actually MORE addictive than pure heroin. It is all the 4,000 other identified chemicals -- and the fact that one smokes and inhales them in, then exhales them out for others to breathe in -- that is at issue. Nicotine patches are legally obtainable over the counter. Chewing tobacco is legal as is nicotine gum. So people can satisfy the addiction. It is the WAY in which they satisfy the addiction that is at the heart of this debate. For me, this fact eliminates many of the compassion for addicts/other harmful habits kill people/etc arguments.

    Also, no one seemed to raise the issue that second hand smoke may only *directly* cause X amounts of deaths per year, but it is increasingly clear from studies that it affects people -- sometimes severely -- with common conditions like asthma (a point raised only briefly and peripherally at the end of the debate). One might ask too whether asthma itself is on the increase due to the exposure of children to smoke in the home. Smoke in the home is known to increase cot death by a significant factor and compromise children's health in other ways. The against side lost some opportunities for using some good *factual* evidence to counter such points from the for side.

    Overall, I found the 'against compromise' team more persuasive in both their aguments and in the way they put them. That said, DapperGent had the best moment of the 'for' side, and the best response to the judge's questions, here: This was the first point where I was really convinced by arguments from the 'for' side and felt their response was not mostly, er, a smokescreen. Though this final sentence undid the argument for me: "You should accommodate them because they are doing nothing wrong and have as much right to a social life as you do." That's kind of lame, IMHO! :dunno: And I really can't buy this final summing up by the for team: "Smoking is legal, making it socially unacceptable on the basis on health risks that can be ameliorated to the point that they negligible is morally and socially reprehensible. The smoking ban is something that must be compromised upon if we are still to have a society that treats everyone equally." If you acknowledge the health risks than surely a ban makes sense in *order* to treat people equally (as they can find other sources of nicotine to satisfy the addiction and can fulfil their need to smoke in private too), and in my view opens up the argument that eventually, an outright ban on cigarettes themselves is needed.

    Thanks for a great debate, folks -- and for having me sit in judgement for the week of arguments! I look forward to the next one. :D

  • Business & Finance Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 32,387 Mod ✭✭✭✭ DeVore

    Well now... this is a tricky one.

    I'm going to keep this short and sweet (ish). Firstly I think both teams did very well and the debate went great as a whole!

    As to the arguments I thought both sides missed crucial times when with a carefully crafted post they could have really nailed the door on the other team. The FOR team could have pushed the idea of a room which is well ventilated and separated from the rest. Drink wouldnt be served in there but the smokers could come out and order it from the bar. I put this as a question to the AGAINST team and wasnt convinced by their answer. On the other hand the AGAINST team could have developed the idea that as a by product of smoking, smoke is unpleasant to others. Well I drink and the by product of that is pretty unpleasant too but you dont see me forcing you to drink it!

    Both captains did very well and rallied their debaters well... both stuck to their message too and avoided too much rebuttal and tit-for-tat arguments. Henbane was a force for the FOR side and his unavoidable trip to Iceland hurt them.

    So, the decision. Against most peoples opinions I'm going to with the FOR team, simply because they did better then I think they should have and they battled valiantly to convince people of their side of the debate. I dont think they ultimately convinced me but they certainly gave me a moments pause and were against the odds from the start and made up ground. Its a close call though as the AGAINST side fought off their offensive well!

    So, in the end, my vote is cold comfort for the FOR team as the other two judges have voted in favour of the AGAINST team. So in the end our decision and the Debate goes to the AGAINST compromise team. Congratulations!