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Friday, 30 May 2008

The Smoking Ban

The Government has introduced new legislation banning smoking in public places which could see offenders face up to two years in jail, with immediate effect. In the words of the Local Government Minister, Silvia Masebo:

"I have been compelled to issue the above Statutory Instrument due to the continued smoking in public places by persons that have no regard for the comfort of others.....Whoever will contravene this regulation will commit an offence upon conviction to a fine or to an imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both....the government had decided to introduce such stiff penalties for smokers because of the hazardous nature to non-smokers who were forced to be passive smokers"
Apparently, a few designated smoking areas will be introduced to allow smokers to indulge during lunch time. The only problem of course is that there are currently no designated smoking areas in most public places such as offices, shopping malls and public transport. Presumably Ms Masebo has not considered the possibility that people will just smoke more at home? Doesn't this measure simply divert policing, court and jail resources from serious crimes ? It takes many months, sometimes years, before individuals see the light of day in court. Do we really need petty crimes like this one to add further pressure on our paralysed legal system? Why did she not fully consult on this proposal? In countries that have imposed similar bans, these things are subject to public discussion for many months before it is applied. I guess this is all academic since the legislation will almost certainly be difficult to enforce, not even in Ms Masebo's own constituency.

10 comments:

  1. Presumably Ms Masebo has not considered the possibility that people will just smoke more at home?

    That's not how smoking works. Even the heaviest of the smokers won't smoke 5 cigarettes in a row because they couldn't smoke for 5 hours.

    The only problem of course is that there are currently no designated smoking areas in most public places such as offices, shopping malls and public transport.

    Yes there are. It's called "outside".

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  2. "That's not how smoking works. Even the heaviest of the smokers won't smoke 5 cigarettes in a row because they couldn't smoke for 5 hours."

    The point was that on a typical saturday when they could be in a public space, they may opt to stay at home and smoke.

    "Yes there are. It's called "outside"."

    I don't see how the "outside" applies to those restricted from smoking on buses or trains.

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  3. The point was that on a typical saturday when they could be in a public space, they may opt to stay at home and smoke.
    You're not a smoker, are you ?

    Well I am. And i can tell you that smoking is not an activity. Not a principal one at least. Unless we're talking about something other than tobacco and if we exclude the very special case of hookah cafés and bars, I can guarantee you that Not A Single Smoker will opt to spend a typical saturday at home to smoke.

    People smoke as they drink, smoke as they drive, smoke as they work, smoke as they walk, smoke while watching tv, smoke while reading, smoke while writing but smoking cigarettes is never the main activity. A cigarette takes 5 minutes to smoke after all.
    I don't see how the "outside" applies to those restricted from smoking on buses or trains.

    Easily. Outside trains and buses.

    Once again, smokers don't smoke all the time. There is intervals between cigarettes. Most heavy smokers do it every hour or so. And probably not in regular way either.
    Not smoking during commute time is something very easy to do. Just like not getting up from one's desk to smoke a cigarette outside.
    And on longer trips, there can be stops and breaks.

    I can't understand why a law would even be needed to restrict people from smoking in buses and trains. Isn't that a rude thing to do anyway ?

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  4. No I am not a smoker !!

    I simply happen to think the law is inefficient and will achieve very little. Our legal system does not need these kind of petty measures. As I said, I think is pretty much wont be enforceable so it infacts begs the question whether the effort spent putting this all thing together was worth it.

    Can you imagine implementing these measures in a rural area, where smoking is part and parcel of evening time..?

    I am intrigued though by your statement that smoking is not an "activity"....but I thought it was addictive..that surely must imply its an "end in itself", for lack of a better phrase..?

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  5. I simply happen to think the law is inefficient and will achieve very little. Our legal system does not need these kind of petty measures. As I said, I think is pretty much wont be enforceable so it infacts begs the question whether the effort spent putting this all thing together was worth it.

    Your agurment on how it's another burden on overstreched law-enforcement was the valid part. I just thought that you misunderstood how easy such a ban would be to follow for smokers.

    Usually, places that enact smoking bans punish the owners of the public places and expect them in turn to prevent smoking to happen.
    That's also why usually little actual enforcement is needed. The fact it's illegal is just give more weight to non-smokers' arguments.

    I am intrigued though by your statement that smoking is not an "activity"....but I thought it was addictive..that surely must imply its an "end in itself", for lack of a better phrase..?

    Yes it's an addiction but the way it works is sort of like scratching a hitch. Smokers need a cigarette every now and then and it takes five minutes to smoke one. No one decides to spend an afternoon or a day smoking.

    And that is actually why those bans do work when it comes to reducing smoking. Basically, smokers tend to smoke a lot more and more often than usual when they simply can. When you make them have to get up, interrupt their conversation or their work and go outside, they don't smoke 10 cigs in a row. They go only when they need it. And they need it only everynow and then (just like something that hitches, the amount of scratching needed doesn't go up, 1 sec of scratching is usually enough, no matter how long it's been hitching)

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  6. Am a smoker and pack a 20 pack every day. It costs me some 300,000 every month. The K400,000 is not that high given that in the UK if you get to court you could be slapped with a fine as high as 2,500 pounds.

    So no complaints about the figure. Its pretty cheap by global standards. Whats off the charts is the impractical 2 year sentence. I mean what is that? Some government official who stole more that 150 million got less time just last month. We are not criminals. Why should we face a jail term that is higher that what criminals get?

    According to the world health organisation, 35% and 20% of Zambian males and females respectively smoke. Granted those are large numbers. What about the prison service? I dont see it coping with the madness. It's taking one step forward and two steps backward. Rather than have hard working people sitting in prison at the tax payers expense, why not leave them to work and earn a decent living?

    Other countries that can actually afford to feed their prisoners are offering 7 days to no more than 3 months.

    Lastly, she was very vauge as to where one cannot smoke. I forsee a situation, especially in and around clubs where thugs will harrass people in the name of the infamous "Citizen's Arrest" for a "ka 10 pin chabe" or we take you in.

    Thats the price of draconian measures.

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  7. Silvia always comes up with brilliant ideas..and sheis quick to run to ZNBC to announce anything that comes up in her head.Am smoker and this is something that am fighting to stop.Does she think that the police or 'the council police' will be able to arrest anyone smoking in public if they have failed to do so when it come to street vendors?Nah..I don't think so...am sure she's got a time table for issueing such statements..I wonder what her next press release will be.I'll be waiting.

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  8. "No one decides to spend an afternoon or a day smoking." - Random

    Friends at University used to do just that!

    "Lastly, she was very vauge as to where one cannot smoke. I forsee a situation, especially in and around clubs where thugs will harrass people in the name of the infamous "Citizen's Arrest" for a "ka 10 pin chabe" or we take you in." - Anonymous

    So its a redistributive mechanism! lol!

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  9. Friends at University used to do just that!

    they were not smoking tobacco

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  10. lol! by the way....I have now got One Economics, Many Recipes... I'll read it over the weekend..

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