Cough! Splutter! Some thoughts on the cigarette ban

Joe_Strummer weighs in on smoking debate
Joe_Strummer weighs in on smoking debate
I put a comment on my Facebook about being in Berlin and getting reminded of how being in a room full of fag smoke was pretty rough. The Germans banned smoking but everyone seems to have carried on regardless. If my clothes smelt that bad; what were my lungs like!

The comment sparked a big Facebook debate with both pro and anti smoking making decent points so I thought I would add my side of the story.

I’m not anti smoking, I’m not anti drugs. I think all drugs should legalized the same as cigarettes and alcohol are. Legalization plus eduction and maybe an admittance that, yes drugs do fuck you up but they can make you feel great or different.
If you want to smoke that’s up to you. Everyone must know by now how bad it is for you in a thousand different ways but if you enjoy the buzz then enjoy it. This blog is not telling people not to smoke, it’s your choice.

What I hated was being in a smoky room, a tricky situation if you play in a band to avoid. All that smoke and all that passive smoking…. breathe in and get a lung full and you don’t even get the mini buzz of the smoker.

The banning of smoking was a tricky compromise and one that just about works. I think the word banning may have been a bit too emotive, it was more like the smokers had been politely asked to smoke outside and the great thing about the British is that they did just that. As a non smoker I appreciate all the smokers going outside for a smoke. That’s the smokers being polite. We appreciate it’s a pain in the arse for them and thank them for being cool about this unless they were are stuck in some horrible bar with a bunch of people they would rather swerve and would rather go out in the wind and the rain.

The has to be some sort of compromise, some people say have a smoking room in a pub, would that work? Would the non smoking members of the bar staff have to work in there? Would this be impractical or the same as those outdoor smoking areas with roofs on them?

I’m not sure if the smoking ban can be blamed for closing all the pubs – that could be put down to the supermarkets selling cheap booze. I feel sad when I see old boozers boarded up, another chip away at the old communities.

What do you reckon? Allow smoking in pubs again? Legalise all drugs?

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. It’s nice to see some liberal, thoughtful perspective from non-smokers for once. Too often you get the Daily Mail anti-smoking fascists condescending the smoker because they think the smoker doesn’t KNOW that it’s bad for him. It’s enough to drive anyone to smoking.

    For the best laughs, when someone does this then reel off Bill Hicks’ old monologue about why smoking is cool.

  2. Most smokers I know don’t mind the smoking ban. I’m a smoker and have played in bands for years. I remember how much my clothes used to stink after a gig, particularly at the Castle on Oldham St….and smoking indoors meant I always chain smoked on a night out. Now it’s alright, smoking outside is pretty sociable, you always find people to chat to, and it’s a nice bit of fresh air and a break from the noise. It’s alright, in fact it’s never been better…cough cough hack hack

  3. I was dead-against the idea of legislation telling me where to smoke -or rather where not to smoke, but to be honest its fine. It was something I’d do if I was at a friend’s house that didn’t smoke – no problem, I’ll go outside.
    Drugs is another thing entirely. The ‘legalise it’ argument may have held some merit had it been implemented before drugs became so cheap & the mass of brown heroin and now crack cocaine had insinuated itself into the fabric of society.
    Now, I think its too late. But thats not to say I don’t think some kind of legalised regulation of the more addictive drugs could help. I mean prescription heroin and cocaine to stop folks dying from all the shit in the shots on the street. The drug will kill you, but the brick-dust in it will kill you far quicker.
    Working for a drug intervention service, I see all the harm and the budget lessening proportionately to the problems increaser.
    If legalised & regulated like alcohol and tobacco, would the state plough more money into improving such services ? Maybe, maybe not.


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