A significant step forward in reducing the harm of tobacco smoking has occurred with the decision by House of Commons in London to ban smoking in all enclosed public spaces in England. This approach was more hardline than what was originally proposed by the UK government, and interestingly was made the subject of a free (or conscience) vote for MPs.
Perhaps an even more significant development in the battle to reduce the harm of tobacco smoking is the by-law recently adopted in Jakarta prohibiting smoking in public buildings. It is interesting how quickly one gets used to living with these sorts of restrictions, which are now in place around Australia to varying degrees. The number of people smoking is something that stood out to me when I was in Jakarta last year (although that was nothing compared to Turkey, where one could be forgiven for wondering if smoking is compulsory).
As well as the ban now coming in in England, this report on the ABC says that, “Northern Ireland has passed a similar law which will take effect in April 2007, while smoking in public places in Scotland will become an offence from next month. Ireland, Italy, Norway, Malta and Sweden have also outlawed smoking in public places.”
There is momentum building in Australia to take a more hardline approach towards marijuana use. This is an interesting topic which I hope to write a larger piece on soon. However, we should not take our eye off the much larger health consequences of tobacco use.