No smoking - it's the law

Starting today, smoking in bars and restaurants is now illegal in Finland, certain exceptions notwithstanding. The libertarians at Finland for Thought aside, the change is quite popular:

According to a recent questionnaire conducted by TNA Gallup and commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, a total of 77 per cent of all Finns are in favour of the smoking ban.

While regular smokers have the most negative attitude towards the ban, as many as 39 per cent of them are also in favour of a smoking ban in restaurants. Moreover, as many as 69 per cent of those who smoke only occasionally are supporters of the amendment to the law on smoking.

The majority of respondents believed that the ban would have no effect on the number of their restaurant visits, while 15 per cent regarded it as possible that the number of their visits would increase in the future. Only seven per cent of respondents thought that they would visit restaurants less frequently than before.
As a lifelong non-smoker, I'm firmly in the category that prefers smoke-free bars and (especially) restaurants. Still, I'm not entirely convinced that business really will pick up. If that was to be expected, I'd think that most bars and restaurants would ban smoking on their own, without the need for legislation.


Jon said...

I'm not sure I agree with the sentiment that bars would have become non-smoking if they thought business would pick up. People who own bars are not likely serious number crunchers and from a bar owner's perspective it is counter-intuitive to expect it to work that way. They worry about their current clientèle not their potential clientèle. Every smoker I have ever met has said they would never go to a non-smoking bar and yet they evidence suggests in almost all instances they do.

Ari said...

But bar owners wouldn't have had to rely on just intuition. Foreign countries and cities have laws like this one, too, and could have served as examples. That's assuming the effect was positive in those places, of course.

It's possible, I suppose, that while smokers aren't willing to stop going to bars just because they can't smoke in any of them, they will take their business to bars that allow smoking as long as such things exist - and while non-smokers would rather go to a non-smoking bar, they'll follow their smoking friends to bars that allow smoking.