Een columnist op bloomberg.com verbaast zich over de belangstelling die Europese regeringen aan de dag leggen voor de invoering van rookverboden. Het lag niet in de verwchting dat Europa op dezelfde manier een dergelijk beleid zou ontwikkelen dan de VS, gezien de totaal andere, tolerantere houding van de Europeanen.
Waar komt dit toch door?
Zijn verklaring komt bekend voor: de regeringen houden zich met deze onbelangrijke zaken bezig omdat ze bang zijn zich met de werkelijk gewichtige zaken te bemoeien.
The real problem with smoking bans isn’t that they are authoritarian. Nor is it that they are intolerant. It is that they are a form of legislative displacement activity. They are something to do to keep busy while you ignore the things that matter most. They are fidgeting, rather than ruling.
The U.K.’s hop onto the anti-smoking bandwagon might come as a surprise to some. Tobacco was popularized in Europe by an Englishman, Sir Walter Raleigh, who imported it from the New World (although in retrospect, it now seems surprising the natives didn’t give him a stern lecture on protecting his lungs, along with some advice to go easy on those newfangled potatoes).
British heroes from Sherlock Holmes to Winston Churchill were rarely seen without a pipe or a cigar in their mouths. It was a country that took its smoking seriously.
These days, Sherlock would have spent more time searching for somewhere to light up than tracking down criminal masterminds (it would certainly take a detective of his skill to find somewhere you could have a smoke in Baker Street).
And on lifestyle issues, Churchill would probably be compared unfavorably to his teetotal, vegetarian Nazi counterpart. Adolf Hitler banned smoking in public places and prohibited tobacco advertising, according to a report in the BMJ (British Medical Journal).