My late Uncle Christopher Booker did not believe in the idea of passive smoking. It was one of the few areas where we disagreed. I cannot see that inhaling other folks’ smoke can be good for you although, as an ex-smoker, I really do rather enjoy the smell of forbidden pleasure and the evidence that it causes massive harm if done in limited amounts is far from compelling. However, the two reasons to ban smoking in the workplace are a) that you may make the working environment of your colleagues less pleasant and b) that you might just be damaging their health.
So come lockdown and working from home, a stack of smokers will now not waste valuable time slipping out into the street but get to light up while sitting at their desks. Lucky them. If I make it to ninety, I am resolved to start smoking again. It is such fun. However, some smokers who are WFH are not so lucky. That is ones unfortunate enough to work for Hammersmith & Fulham council. It has just sent out an edict to staff WFH stating that if they work in a room in their own house which is used solely for work then it must be designated a smoke free room.
So here is an employer telling someone what they can or cannot do in their own home. They can have a fag while leaning over the baby’s cot in its bedroom but not in the study. Not only is this edict bonkers but it is, of course, utterly unenforceable which makes it all the more bonkers. And it shows that what drives those who want to stamp out smoking is not simply the welfare of the colleagues of smokers but it is just the desire to stamp out a habit which they dislike.
I dislike the habit of some in reading the Guardian. I am aware that at least one of my employees engages in this disgusting pursuit which will addle his brain. But that is no reason for me to try to stop him having a fix of Polly Toynbee or in which room he can have a drag of Owen Jones. I am sure that many of you find reading the Guardian a truly repellent vice and I am sure that passive reading, that is having one of my siblings tell me that capitalism is evil and global warming is all my fault because Polly says so, is not good for my health. But do we try to stop anyone engaging in this filthy pursuit in the privacy of their own home? Hell no.
The average smoker dies younger and more quickly than a non smoker and the cost of his or her NHS treatment is covered many times over by the vice taxes he or she will have paid to support their habit. It is clean living non smokers who linger on for ages with expensive to treat ailments like dementia that put a drain on the taxpayer and have paid sod all in sin taxes along the way. So there is no economic justification for telling folks where they can or cannot smoke in their own homes either.
It is just another case of small minded petty tyrants in local Government wasting taxpayers cash satisfying their lust for crushing freedom and exercising their limited powers to the full. No doubt the Guardian approves of all of this.