If You Try to Sit, I'll Ban your Seat; If You Get Too Cold, I'll Ban the Heat

This month, in the U.K., a national smoking ban came into effect. Smokers all over the country vacated comfortable, warm armchairs in pubs and restaurants and retired to picnic tables, beer gardens, and terraces.

But while paternalists celebrated a triumph for public health, environmentalists mourned a tragedy for the Earth. As it turns out, when smoking is not allowed in heated, enclosed areas, businesses invest in heating the great outdoors for their puffing patrons. Gas-guzzling patio heater use is predicted to double in the UK, increasing CO2 emissions (perhaps by 20,000 tons a year just for London) and breeding mosquitoes.

Patio heaters can use as much gas in six months as the average U.K. stove does in a year. They’re therefore fairly expensive to run. But the smoking ban has made outdoor heating more profitable than ever before, particularly since only some venues can afford them or have any outdoor space. The heaters become a draw for smokers and their friends.

Both London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Norman Baker, a U.K. Liberal Democrat Party MP, have spoken out against patio heaters. Baker claims that "patio heaters are an absurd invention. It is ludicrous that people are trying to heat the open air, as well as being irresponsible in the light of the climate change challenge we face.” He says that instead of relying on such ridiculous modern technology, people should just put on more clothes if they’re cold.

And if they refuse to wrap up, the only solution is another ban--this time on patio heaters.

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  • ||

    Oh, don't worry, they'll just ban smoking outdoors.

  • ||

    And after they ban the patio heaters, they'll ban jackets, scarves and gloves.

    Dirty smokers!

  • LibertyPlease||

    Relevant Einstein quote:

    "The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this."

  • ||

    I my part of the country we just light a bon fire.

  • ||

    The medicine is making us sicker! Quick, double the dose!

  • Russ 2000||

    patio heaters are an absurd invention

    Then go visit Sweden. Lots of 'em over there.

  • ||

    I wonder if heavy duty ventilation systems are worse for the environment than patio heaters.

  • somebody||

    Unintended consequences!? I guess we'll just learn from this mistake.

  • ||

    Why not just 'off' all the current smokers now instead of waiting for natural causes? Problems solved.

  • ||

    LibertyPlease,

    Actually, that's not relevant, since a smoking ban is relatively easy to enforce.

  • ||

    Can't they just invent a cigarette that gives off a tremendous amount of heat?

    Yeah, yeah, I know, then they'll just start bitching about all the accidental immolations.

  • ||

    Actually, that's not relevant, since a smoking ban is relatively easy to enforce.



    The ban on smoking marijuana hasn't been very easy to enforce, so what makes you think a ban on smoking tobacco will go any better?

  • ||

    I'm not a big fan of smoking bans but I certainly respect the UK's right to decide this issue for themselves.

  • D. Greene||

    Truly, the Law of Unintended Consequences is a harsh mistress.

  • ||

    "I'm not a big fan of smoking bans but I certainly respect the UK's right to decide this issue for themselves."

    Yeah, state's rights...nation-states.

  • ||

    Son of a!,

    How often have you seen the guy next to you at a bar light up a joint? Looks like the marijuana ban is pretty easy to enforce in public places.

  • ||

    smoking bans........yea, i see the good and the bad on those. boston's done a rather impressive job with this ban. we now just have to enjoy hookah lounges if you desire to smoke, eat, and socialize at once.

  • ||

    Actually, that's not relevant, since a smoking ban is relatively easy to enforce.



    No it isn't. People go to bar, the bar gives token ineffectual warnings to the smokers, the smokers continue to smoke indoors. Every once in a while the city will give a token fine to the bar, the bar will promise to clean up their act, and it will be back to buisness as usual.

    In certain neighborhoods, where the bars pay protection money to organized crime, they won't even get the occasional fine... and you would be better off not complaining if you see someone smoking.

    The exception to this is certain resteraunts (the ones that make more money on food than drinks), certain concert venues (where people stand to watch live music, they usually throw their cigarettes butts on the floor and it makes more work cleaning)... which were pretty much heading to a smoking ban from market pressures without the law.

  • ||

    Baker claims that "patio heaters are an absurd invention...."

    Meh. Almost every sidewalk cafe here in NYC has them--and has had them since long before the smoking ban. They really are going to any absurd length to turn the screws on smokers.

  • ||

    crimethink:

    "...in public places" is a significant qualifier which, frankly, makes the Prohibition quote relevant.

  • ||

    How often have you seen the guy next to you at a bar light up a joint? Looks like the marijuana ban is pretty easy to enforce in public places.



    When I was young? All the time! Not so much any more, because as I get older my choice of drinking establishments have changed.

    But any sort of youth concert venue is going to have some pretty blatent public weed smoking.

  • ||

    "any sort of youth concert venue is going to have some pretty blatent public weed smoking."

    Not to mention old fart smokefests at the Beacon Theater, Radio City Music Hall and Townhall.

  • Ventifact||

    The ban on smoking marijuana hasn't been very easy to enforce, so what makes you think a ban on smoking tobacco will go any better?

    Users of the Mary (Merry!) Jane don't (usually!) smoke fifteen times throughout their day. A few clandestine drags off a tobacco cigarette doesn't do much for most people compared to the same behavior with cannabis.

  • ||

    Excuse me but, aren't there many municipalities that have already banned public smoking? As I understand it, while there is an initial backlash, the sheeple soon learn only to graze smoke in private hermetically sealed designated areas.

  • ||

    LibertyPlease,

    I'll repeat this slowly, since you seem to be having a hard time understanding:

    Alcohol Prohibition: in effect everywhere.
    Marijuana Prohibition: in effect everywhere.
    Smoking Ban: in effect IN PUBLIC PLACES ONLY.

    This difference makes enforcement of the ban much easier. If people are lighting up cigarettes in the privacy of their homes, the ban is not violated. If people were drinking in their homes during Prohibition, the ban was being violated.


    People go to bar, the bar gives token ineffectual warnings to the smokers, the smokers continue to smoke indoors. Every once in a while the city will give a token fine to the bar, the bar will promise to clean up their act, and it will be back to buisness as usual.

    If the consequences for violating the ban aren't that great, why are bars investing in expensive patio heating schemes?

  • ||

    I'm not a big fan of smoking bans but I certainly respect the UK's right to decide this issue for themselves.

    Sounds more like some deciding for all to me.

  • ||

    As far as I know, in the US people just brave the cold.

    But for people who think smoking bans are some kind of nanny government thing, think of it not as smoking but as burning. "Hello, do you mind if I burn some trash at my table while you eat?"

  • ||

    If the consequences for violating the ban aren't that great, why are bars investing in expensive patio heating schemes?



    They aren't. At least not in Toronto.

    But for people who think smoking bans are some kind of nanny government thing, think of it not as smoking but as burning. "Hello, do you mind if I burn some trash at my table while you eat?"



    I think it should be legal to burn stuff at the table, provided that the owner of the resteraunt approves. If I didn't like people burning trash at the table, I would go to a resteraunt that doesn't allow that sort of thing.

  • ||

    How often have you seen the guy next to you at a bar light up a joint? Looks like the marijuana ban is pretty easy to enforce in public places.



    Ever been to a concert?

  • ||

    Crimethink -- If people were drinking in their homes during Prohibition, the ban was being violated. --

    Actually, the Volstead Act did not prohibit the consumption of alcohol, public or private, nor did the Eighteenth Amendment allow such a prohibition. That would have been seen, in that enlightened age, as a blatant interference with personal property and autonomy. The Amendment and the Act prohibited buying, selling, transporting, importing, manufacturing, and the like -- possession and consumption remained quite legal throughout Prohibition.

  • ||

    Dale,

    Smoking bans are some kind of nanny government thing. The bars and restaurants should be the entities choosing whether or not to allow smoking, not the government. Same goes for burning trash at your table, although any restaurants allowing that would probably lose quite a few customers.

  • Henry Waxman||

    We need to identify everyone who smoked for 10 or more years so when tobacco is outlawed they can continue to contribute the extra tax money.

  • LibertyPlease||

    "I'll repeat this slowly, since you seem to be having a hard time understanding:

    Alcohol Prohibition: in effect everywhere.
    Marijuana Prohibition: in effect everywhere.
    Smoking Ban: in effect IN PUBLIC PLACES ONLY."


    crimethink, I'm not interested in debating the nuances of all the bans anymore. There are too many. I just assume whatever I'm doing at the moment is illegal. The problem is, we have to avoid the authorities entirely the more true this becomes.

    Actually, that may work out. Avoiding the authorities may increase your life expectancy.

  • ||

    But for people who think smoking bans are some kind of nanny government thing, think of it not as smoking but as burning. "Hello, do you mind if I burn some trash at my table while you eat?"

    Oh, you mean like an incense stick or some crappy candle? While we are on the subject, I must say that I'm not terribly fond of your date's overpowering perfume - or that medicinal-smelling aftershave you are wearing, either.

  • Rhywun||

    People go to bar, the bar gives token ineffectual warnings to the smokers, the smokers continue to smoke indoors. Every once in a while the city will give a token fine to the bar, the bar will promise to clean up their act, and it will be back to buisness as usual.

    That's true maybe in 1 of 20 bars here in NYC, and dammit, I can never remember which place let me smoke last time >:(

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