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Monday, 9 July 2012

The Indoors Is Not Enough

Is there a perpetual full moon hanging over Australia?  Because the raging anti-smoker lunacy there is fucking phenomenal.  Not contented with banishing smokers outdoors or calling for outright prohibition, a group calling itself the WSCAN Parramatta Cancer Action Network* has started a petition to banish smoking outdoors at alfresco dining areas in central Sydney.  [*This group has no on-line presence it seems; none that I can see anyway.]

It's worth reprinting their petition in full (emphasis in original):

Most people in the community want to be able to enjoy a meal outdoors without breathing in other people’s smoke.

As a group who either have been affected by cancer or who have loved ones who have, we care about our health and want to be able to dine outdoors free of smoke. Some of us are affected by asthma, some of us have children working in hospitality and we all want to take our children and grandchildren out to eat in a safe environment.

Parramatta Council  has recently brought in a policy for smoke-free alfresco dining on land leased from council such as footpaths. We’ve also seen NSW Government legislation, introduced to Parliament that will hopefully protect the community from second hand smoke across the state, but the detail is not yet finalised.

Yet a few restaurants in Parramatta continue to oppose the Council smoke-free policy. According to the local press these restaurants are Armani, Kouzina Greco, The Chocolate Room, Saute Thai, Black Angus, Thai in a Box, Café Lime, City Extra and Harry’s Café de Wheels. More recently, the Parramatta Business Freedom Association and Armani restaurant, according to court documentation, challenged the policy through the Land and Environment Court. Last week the court handed down a decision that confirmed Council has the power to ban smoking in footway restaurants.

At the state level, the hospitality industry has a long record of resisting public health initiatives that reduce the harms from smoking. Years ago, pubs and clubs were exempted from indoor smoke-free laws, then they lobbied the State Government for smoking to be allowed to continue in ‘pseudo-outdoor areas’. Over the past few years, hospitality groups have been arguing against  smoke-free legislation covering places where people gather to eat and drink. The current action by a small number of restaurants is just one local example of the industry’s continued opposition to measures that protect public health that the community itself has been asking for.

Our fear is that the hospitality bodies and tobacco industry will continue to find ways around new public health measures at local, state, national and even international levels – and we need to tell them that enough is enough! Lots of individual restaurants and cafes are keen to go smoke-free and have adapted as new measures are introduced. Why let a small number of venues dictate the public discussion about this issue?

Parramatta Council went through an exhaustive process over 2 years of community surveys and consultations before introducing this policy. A 2009 survey found 87% of residents supporting alfresco dining areas being smoke-free. In 2011, a survey showed non-smokers spend more than smokers at each visit to a restaurant.
Smoke-free dining protects those who work in restaurants from regular exposure to dangerous second-hand smoke. Smoke-free dining means families can safely enjoy eating out and walk along footpaths adjacent to restaurants without breathing toxic smoke.

We need to send a message to restaurant operators, particularly those in Parramatta, that resistance to smoke-free outdoor dining at a local or state level is futile and goes against community expectations. The vast majority of the community (their customers) want smoke-free dining, to protect public health and enhance the enjoyment of dining out.
Wow.  Look at the emotive language and other utter bullshit used in that petition. A stunning, classic piece of anti-smoker propaganda.  Notice the tell-tale signs of the propaganda:  There are children at risk.  Oh, the poor, vulnerable children!  No, wait!  In this case, there are entire fucking families at risk!  Jesus.  I mean, never mind the pollution caused by vehicles... it's just has to be the second-hand smoke that's giving the little squirts asthma attacks. 

I wonder if Australian smokers remember how they felt when they were finally forced to relinquish their last remaining indoor smoking areas to the hateful fuckwit anti-smokers, who said then that everyone would be protected so long as smokers were kept outside.  I bet the smokers thought, "Well, at least we have the outdoor areas to smoke in."  If you thought that, I'm sorry, but you would be wrong. The indoors is not enough for these people.  They want it all. Indoors, outdoors, in your homes, in your cars.  They will not stop because they hate you. It's a hate campaign designed to get rid of you, to isolate you from society, to make you total social pariahs. If you give these nannying tyrants an inch, they will take a light year.  Every time.  Count on it.

So. What to do? At a minimum, I would suggest the following:

The petitioners very kindly included a list of restaurants and businesses that are against this outdoor dining area smoking ban. If you are a smoker, please go visit these establishments.  They deserve a little of your money if you can spare it.  Better yet, get all the smokers you can find and go as a group and try to take up all of the outdoor tables. Sure, it's wintertime in Oz, but fuck it.  You're Australians! You can handle it!

Maybe you could start a Facebook group and organise something, like a flash mob thing -- a smoking mob. Yeah, that's cool. A smoking mob.  You could even print up group T-shirts or buttons that read: "Down with Nanny State!"  (I was going to suggest "Simon Chapman is a Fuckwit" for your buttons but I don't know if that would be legal in Oz, so it could be a really bad idea... you guys have almost no free speech protections any longer, and I would hate to see anyone arrested for it. Might want to avoid mentioning the Root of All Evil.)

Or you could do nothing and continue to be denormalised by the neo-puritan Nazis taking over Australia. 

Arrrrrggghhh! There are people smoking outside!  I'm so angry!
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