Fresh Air at Last

This is what health conscious pub-goers in Britain were expecting when a smoking ban went into affect this summer. What they got was something else entirely.

I’m not a smoker myself although I do occasionally enjoy a cigar. But since I don’t habitually light up I really don’t feel much of a personal stake in the smoking bans that are popping up with increasing frequency around the world. I am a believer in personal liberties and responsibility so it gets under my skin a little bit. On the other hand, I do have to concede one point to the health advocates – second hand smoke could be a hazard for the people that work in pubs and restaurants and simply getting another job isn’t always an option.

So, I see both sides and it gave me quite a chuckle when I read this piece in a British newspaper about some surprising side-effects of the smoking ban. Proponents of the ban were sure that their favorite watering-holes would be filled with the cheery aromas of food and freshly pulled ale when the hated tobacco stink was finally driven to the streets. What they found instead was that the smell of smoke was covering a whole host of nasty smells, the worst of which were coming from the pub-goers themselves. Now instead of smoke British nostrils are being greeted with the smells of stale food, sweat and flatulence. The stink is so bad that it is actually hurting food sales.

What to do? Cover the smells back up, naturally. If burning cigarettes, cigars and pipes were covering these smells, then pub owners can simply pump some other smell into their establishments to drive those human odors back down below the threshold of perception. They’re using such scents as leather, fresh cut grass and, my favorite, tobacco smoke. Yup, that’s right; the fake smell of burning tobacco is being used to replace the old smell of real burning tobacco.

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