No smoking

A common (and a bit stupid) “joke” in Hungary is that “no smoking” means in fact: “do not enter in a dinner jacket”. (Hungarians use “szmoking” to mean “dinner jacket”).  Yeah, Hungarians were liable to ignore even those signs forbidding smoking  explicitly and nobody didn’t really care either, not even the authorities.

Well, I lived in England when the smokefree laws came into force in 2007 there and I remember people grumbling about not being able to smoke inside pubs.  On the other hand, having never smoked in my life, I myself was quite content that tobacco smoke was suddenly pretty much gone wherever I went to.  I’d say people got used to the strict restrictions on smoking quickly enough.  I visited Hungary often  and, to say the least, I wasn’t pleased  when I had to breathe in smokey air in public places in Hungary.  I really wished Hungary would do the very same as the UK regarding smoking in public but I thought it was fat chance.  Then Fidesz won a landslide victory in 2010 and I moved home at the end of 2011. And soon the Orbán-government introduced a  similarly strict, if not stricter, anti-smoking law from the January of 2012 than the British one!  First I was quite sceptical if it would be effective and enforced, I thought it would be watered down in the end and I did expect a quite big outcry. To my astonishment, there wasn’t really much at all!  After a few month transitory period, when I could still see some people were not taking the ban too seriously,  I could see less and less violations. I guess the hefty fines convinced the owners of pubs, cafes and restaurants that they’d better enforce the smokefree laws.  Or maybe just common sense?  Now I cannot remember when I saw someone smoking in a forbidden place in Hungary last time but I don’t think it was this year.  I must say I’m pretty impressed.

So Prime Minister Orbán, or in fact Hungary and Hungarians for the above reasons, as he himself emphasized, well deserved this anti-smoking WHO award:

Ah,  according to a recent survey,  while 28 percent of the adult population used to smoke on a daily basis in 2012, this ratio  dropped to 19 percent in 2013.  Not bad, eh?

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5 Comments

  1. olga

     /  22/11/2013

    Orban deserved to be congratulated and obviously WHO agreed

    According to Canadian statistics , we spend $4.4 billion each year on health care for smoking-related illnesses and that would include the victims of second hand smoking . I’d rather see my tax dollars spent on treating diseases that were not “asked for”

    Laws agains drinking and driving also infringes on our liberty, so what?

    Reply
    • That’s right, I agree. Mr. Scruton, who is a very intelligent and respectable philosophy professor and whose political views I agree with in a lot of topics, is a right-wing libertarian. And libertarianism puts individual liberty rights on a too high pedestal. Man is a social mammal and we live in societies.

      Reply
  2. Angela Bogaczy

     /  21/11/2013

    Huh! Please read Roger Scruton on smoking, ‘WHO, What and Why’: http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/ddc03c00/pdf . Then recant. 🙂

    Reply
    • Well, first of all, I could say I’m a fan of Roger Scruton as well (besides Orbán)..

      Thanks for the link to the essay. I heard about it and I’ll try to read all of it. I know the gist of it, that is he considers the anti-smoking efforts as a breach of liberty rights. And I also know that he, who is a heavy smoker himself, was accused of being ‘sponsored’ by the tobacco industry. I dismiss that non-sense and I respectfully and strongly disagree with him on this issue.

      Reply
      • Angela Bogaczy

         /  21/11/2013

        Thank you! But please note Scruton’s accusation that the WTO has become a rentier organisation. Now, that smacks a beauty! (Does Scruton really smoke heavily? He gives the impression that he is a light smoker, if a smoker at all.)

        Reply

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