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« When is a youth hostel not a youth hostel? | Main | Suzy says: "I really enjoy smoking" »

Joe Jackson: greetings from Berlin

Hot on the heels of his article in Spiked ("How killjoys colonised Britain's public houses"), Joe Jackson has sent me - at my request - this photograph. It was taken last week in a bar in Berlin, where Joe now lives, and features the musician in a Save Our Pubs & Clubs: t-shirt. Joe's support for our campaign is not unconditional. A few weeks ago he told me:

"I'm supporting this campaign with some serious reservations, as I expressed to you a while back. I notice that some people on your blog have expressed similar doubts, including one who pointed out that 'separate rooms' are not necessarily such a great thing in practice - especially if onerous conditions are attached like room must be totally sealed, must have huge noisy ventilation system, access to toilets must not be through smoking room, etc etc.

"I've observed this myself in Berlin, also Italy and Israel, where the smoking rooms are so soulless, uninviting, and cut off from everything that no one really wants to use them. The antis then say, "Look, even the smokers don't want smoking rooms!" and they get closed down. This happened in a bar right on the corner where I live in Berlin. Another one nearby has a little smoking 'compartment' which is like going into a prison cell. No one uses it (though admittedly in Berlin there are smoking bars to go to instead).

"However, I notice that you are not campaigning for a specific solution, but a range of possibilities including the Spanish one, which would be OK. Again though, I must point out that in Spain people are so much more tolerant and authorities more reasonable than in the UK. Also enforcement is lax so plenty of places which technically shouldn't allow smoking actually do, because no one cares. It's these things, as much as the actual law, which makes Spain so smoker-friendly.

"The same applies to a great extent in Berlin where, for instance, some bars have put up a glass wall with a door in it which stays open anyway - and some city districts have openly admitted that they don't have anyone to check up on the pubs and won't bother fining anyone! The Bezirksburgermeister (district mayor) of the district of Neukolln has even said in the press that he doesn't agree with a smoking ban and will not enforce it. Imagine that in Kensington or Islington!

Joe's own website has a section on smoking HERE. It includes his e-booklet Smoke, Lies and the Nanny State which Forest published in 2007.

Reader Comments (17)

Well, yes, if smoking rooms were like prison cells, I wouldn't want them either.

I was thinking of something open and spacious, with armchairs and bay windows and chintz curtains, and horse brasses on the walls, and 18th century cartoons, and a little bar in the corner.

August 23, 2009 at 22:41 | Unregistered Commenteridlex

Joe is right, it is something I have been saying all along. I wouldn't dream of being forced outside to smoke, and I certainly wouldn't dream of being forced into some poky little seals room to smoke either.

Doesn't anyone see what is happening here? It is not people who smoke that should be told to go outside, it is people who do not smoke! They are always complaining that they wish to breath "fresh" air, which they claim is outside somewhere, although I have yet to fin any in London, or any other big city. But I say that should be their problem, not ours. They want fresh air? Then send them outside to get some!

This should also be the same with these hermetically sealed "smoking rooms" which are being proposed by some. The very thought of such a room reminds me so much of the Jews being led into the gas chambers by their Nazi captors, under the false impression that they were about to have a shower.

I am not going to let anyone put me in such a room. Not because I think I might be being led in there for similar reasons, but simply because I object strongly to being told where I may and may not carry on a perfectly legal act. If the anti-smokers do not want to breath other people's smoke, then let them be locked in such a place, as for me....a big no thank you!

August 24, 2009 at 9:58 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

p.s. "seals" was supposed to be "sealed"

August 24, 2009 at 9:59 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

In Croatia smoking ban was imposed on May 6. Smoking rooms are however allowed, but they need to be sealed, with separated and strong ventilation system (30 litres of fresh air per second per person, which turns to be about 25 air changes per hour for an average room 3 metres high).
Furthermore, consumption of food and drinks in such rooms is not allowed. Does anybody know what is the rationale for prohibiting food and drink consumption (not only serving) in such rooms?

August 24, 2009 at 10:25 | Unregistered Commenterbrankach

Well said Joe!

I have had enough. I am tired of being herded, shepherded, corralled, and/or shoved into goldfish bowls for passersby to sneer at. I also refuse to be herded outside.

Joe highlights the exact reason that I have not supported this campaign as fully as I might. It seems like capitulation to me. There is no need for ultra-strict rules on this. Either claim you are "all smoking" or "non-smoking". There is no need for partitioned rooms/buildings. And if the existing aircon takes care of the perceived problem, there is no need to add yet another regulation for venues to adhere to.

KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid), is a much underused method of dealing with "problems" these days.

I see no point in moving the pig-pen indoors.

Inside or out, segregation is segregation, and simply reinforces the new apartheid.

August 24, 2009 at 10:36 | Unregistered CommenterColin Grainger

You must be a new boy Brankach? The word "rationale" does not exist in the antis vocabulary. It is on a par with other words, such as Freedom, or Choice, or fairness, or evidence, or common sense.

Even the good old word, "aroma" is not used any more in connection with smoking or a good cigar, they use instead, the word "stink", much more appealing to their cause, don't you think?

August 24, 2009 at 10:44 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

Well, I am a new guy. I wasn't interested in issue until the smoking ban came to my country. However, I would like to find out why prohibiting food and drink consumption in smoking rooms. Do you have an idea?

August 24, 2009 at 10:52 | Unregistered Commenterbrankach

Again this weekend we were in our local town, the weather was nice and although there are numerous cafes, the one we prefer is only one of 2 that has tables and chairs outside. Needless to say we could not get a table outside due to all the non smokers who deem it their right to take over 'our' outside space when the weather is good, but to happily relinquish it when the weather is wet and/or cold! As already mentioned, the laughable thing is they object to people smoking outside the cafe because THEY want to be outside to partake of the 'fresh air'! They are within 10 feet of a busy high street! What fresh air are they talking about?

There are times when I am in utter despair and seem to be the only one around at the time who can see the sheer stupidity of this statement - I want to sit outside on the high street to drink my coffee and eat my cake in the fresh air!

Of course, as we all know, because they drive cars and do not wish to be without this convenience, they conveniently ignore the fact that the traffic fumes are far more harmful than any amount of cigarette smoke!

A local hotel, prior to changing hands, had the right idea. They only had a small area to set aside for outside smoking, but it was for the use of smokers! If non smokers were using the facilities, meaning that smokers could not, the management would point out the notices that the area was exclusively for smokers! If visitors asked if they could have their coffee or lunch outside they would be asked if they were smokers and if not told that no, they had to use the indoor facilities as these were not available to smokers!

We did get a seat outside, eventually, as one of the girls was watching out for a table to come free and told us. Other customers inside thought there was a fire!

I do agree that the segregation should not be by use of sealed rooms, etc, but by venue and the choice should be up to the manager/owner who is the one who best knows his/her customers and which ones they would prefer to keep! As for large public areas, such as airports and train stations, then yes, in order to give choice there would need to be separate areas, although I still do not believe any of these should be in terms of a sealed room, unless, as already stated, the sealed room is for the anti smokers!

August 24, 2009 at 12:56 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

Mr Brankach,

You aren't that new. I have read your very sensible writings over at Siegels place.

I imagine the "food & drink" clause is either:

a) so that we smokers dont get tooooo comfortable. (The God of Puritanism will not allow us to be treated like humans).

b) Food & drink in a smokers lounge suggest that someone has to bring in the food & drink and clear away afterwards. (The God of Puritanism has decreed to his/her followers that a slight sniff of tobacco smoke = instant death, so employees must be "protected" at all times).

Or, it's a mix of a + b.

August 24, 2009 at 15:21 | Unregistered CommenterColin Grainger

"Food & drink in a smokers lounge suggest that someone has to bring in the food & drink and clear away afterwards."

Prohibiting food and drink serving could be intended to protect employees (i.e. you take food/drink in a bar and go in te smoking room).That makes sense. But ashtrays still need to be cleared, so employees must come in at some time.
Maybe solution a) is then more suitable, although I still don't understand the reasoning. If someone wants smokers not to be tooooo comfortable, then why allowing such room at all. That's confusing me.

August 24, 2009 at 20:42 | Unregistered Commenterbrankach

To clarify: Not just food and drink serving are prohibited. Consumption itself is not allowed.

August 24, 2009 at 20:44 | Unregistered Commenterbrankach

Presumably the separate smoking/non-smoking areas within one venue solution is to get the publicans and HMG on board. If you simply allow publicans to decide, HMG's face is covered in egg when most decide to allow smoking and if you save HMG's face by suggesting licences, publicans will kill themselves in the scrum to get one. Perhaps I'm being unduly cynical given the popularity of the ban...

I really don't want a solution that continues to ostracise me. Along with Peter, I'm also probably one of the few that doesn't want the ban to continue in restaurants.

August 25, 2009 at 7:25 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

Joyce, I am another who does not want the ban to continue in restaurants. What is more satisfying and civilised as well as being good for the digestion (for me, anyway) than having an enjoyable smoke, at least after a meal with coffee, if not between courses, whilst allowing each course its own time to 'settle' before embarking on the next one?

August 25, 2009 at 7:32 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

What the hell are we supposed to be debating here? The ban has been in operation in this country for over two years. There is no sign at the moment of it going away, no matter what political party we have in. It might happen, but I wouldn't hold my breath on it.

The situation is still exactly the same as it was two years ago, in fact it is worse if anything. It started out as smoking was banned from all indoor public places. Now we have it banned in most indoor "private" places as well, and to make matters even worse, it is now banned in more and more outdoor places as well.

If there was just an inkling of truth in the passive smoking myth, which every "sensible person" knows there isn't, then there could be some justification in banning smoking in these outdoor areas, such as railway station platforms etc. But as they cannot even offer any positive proof of harm caused by passive smoking indoors, then how the hell can they possibly justify the ban outdoors, which incidentally, the law doesn't even cover?

Back to my original question, i.e. what are we debating? We all know that we don't like the ban, we all know that it takes away our civil liberties and freedom and choice, so how on earth do we all manage to find something new to "debate" almost every day for the last two years? I suppose it's because we are all possessed of super human intelligence on here, based entirely on our ability to enjoy smoking tobacco..........well it could be couldn't it?

But seriously, there is now someone asking what the connection is with food and the smoking ban. No one needs to ask questions like that for Christ sake. I am not berating the poster, as he or she, seems new on here, and maybe they really don't know, but the honest truth is that there isn't any connection, and there doesn't have to be any more. Our so called health Tsars and government ministers do not have to give us reasons any more, just like I said (above) about banning in open spaces, they just do it a little at a time, chipping away at our freedoms and our rights. I can just imagine their little group sitting around the table, sipping some dreadful health juice drink, "Oh yes, food doesn't sound like it mixes well with smoking does it? Let's use that as yet another excuse to denormalise those awful smokers".

Of course we all want to smoke in pubs, normally, not in sealed rooms, and of course we all want to have a cigarette or a cigar after a meal in a restaurant, at the bloody table, not stuck outside like some pariah! But (and I know I have said this possibly a million times) we need to develop solid plans and initiatives, which we will all adhere to, instead of just moaning to each other about the good ol' days.

I pointed out a site (on a different thread) the other day, which clearly knocks the smoking ban fascists out of the water. It exposes them for the frauds they are. It gives figures from the likes of the WHO pointing out the dangers of the drug "Tamiflu" which they say contains numerous chemicals, all very harmful, and they advise (the same as the NHS is now doing) everyone not to use that drug until more tests have been carried out. Yet we have Sir Liam Donaldson, urging everyone to take this drug, we also had, a few weeks ago, the same Liam Donaldson, predicting 600 deaths a week from Swine Flu.

This is the very same Liam Donaldson, who tells the world how dangerous smoking and second hand smoke is, and the "proof", he tells us, is because cigarettes contain all these chemicals. Yes, the same chemicals that he is now advising everyone in the country to take, in order to protect themselves from Swine Flu.
If we can discredit Sir Liam Donaldson and show him up for the fraud that he is, then it just might get the ball rolling in exposing the whole smoking ban fraud throughout the world.

August 25, 2009 at 10:47 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

Peter, do we know if any smokers have been amongst those deaths from swine flu?

Just a thought, as perhaps smoking in itself is enough to protect against it, if the so called 'cure' contains all the same chemicals as smoking?

Or am I being naive here? Does it perhaps depend on how the chemicals are taken rather than what the chemicals are?

On a lighter note, as I think we all need a chuckle from time to time, I saw my psychiatrist this morning andhe told me a joke he liked "what do you call 15 politicians at the bottom of the Thames?"

"A start!"

My husband bought me a new sticker for my car "Grow your own Dope, plant a politician".

Hope I haven't upset anyone!

August 25, 2009 at 12:49 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

I do not know the answers to your questions Lyn. Have another look at the site I got this information from

I believe you can post on the site, so why not ask the author himself?

August 25, 2009 at 13:34 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

I first heard this idea of 'sealed smoking rooms' mooted a while ago. I felt then that this was just letting the all powerful barons pat me on the head and say "there there, have a little room stupid boy, arn't I kind".

I would like to draw an analogy, I will let you work out who is who.

When Trade Unionism began, and eventually became powerful, it was necessary, as many employers were at one time selfish and lacking any empathy, an enemy to those who worked for them. When the Trade Union was strong in a workplace, and their bosses made an offer which they saw as a capitulation, they rejected it. Eventually the bosses were forced to make a fair offer.

Let me jump ahead to when the Unions' power was crumbling. In the 1980s' British Leyland had suffered so much from rolling strikes that the guy in charge (forget his name) made an offer, take it or leave it, if you don't take it you are out.

OK, so what about us. It is a catch 22 situation. If we were offered this 'sealed room' compromise, we should say "thanks for the offer Mr Banker, but no deal". We are not however like the powerful union, we are more like the second example, take it or leave it. I still say leave it.

Until the SHS fiasco can be exposed for the fraud that it is, we can only put our wagons into a circle and protect what little freedom we have left.

If only we could 'mind meld' Christopher Snowdon's SHS section in his book Velvet Glove Iron Fist into the decision makers.

August 25, 2009 at 18:28 | Unregistered Commentertimbone

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