Are smoking bans an ecological disaster?

If I had the time, intelligence and patience I’d write a paper on this idea that struck me, alone in the lift, on my way from office to ground floor so I could “take the air” (and a little nicotine).

To make these trips productive, I generally have some calls saved up and I use smoking breaks to make them, thus limiting downtime. Most other smokers don’t do that, or can’t, but that’s by-the-by, for the purposes of ecology, wasted working time is perhaps immaterial.

What is definitely not immaterial is the energy used by these smokers in their migration from the great plains to the water holes. The fundamental problem here is that smoking bans do not stop people smoking, they just force the smokers to travel from workstation to smoking area, to leave the pub/restaurant and come back again or to stop the car.


Looking at my current office for example, there are three banks of lifts in the building and my careful calculations suggest that one lift per bank is in constant use transporting smokers. Allow for the fact that the smokers lift sometimes carries other passengers and we easily say that 0.5 of a lift per bank is used for smokers. That’s 1.5 lifts for the whole building for say 8 hours a day 5 days a week. I have no idea how much electricity that is, but it is a whole lot more than zero. Add to this the incidental energy use through having to deal with access control systems, electric doors and so on and you’re starting to build quite a demand for energy just to let people smoke in the only places they are allowed to.

Any HVAC engineer will tell you that the worst thing for a climate controlled space is opening and closing of doors, windows. So, all those people leaving restaurants, offices…any buildings, in order to have a smoke, are having an immediate impact on the environment within. The machinery has to work harder to either cool or heat the space. That means more energy used.

People are prevented from smoking in cars by laws, rental company regulations, whatever. They have no alternative but to pull over if they want to smoke. To do this they are either leaving their car running, or stopping and starting the car. Either way, this is using more fuel than an uninterrupted trip would have used.

If you multiply all the above factors by all the office buildings, cars, restaurants that are affected across the globe, my guess is that the various bans have increased the “smokers carbon footprint” by a massive amount. And yet nobody seems to care. When it comes to dealing with evil smokers, we’re not prepared to even consider the impact on the environment?

How do we make smoking more sustainable? (now there’s a strange sentence!)

For the record, I’m cool with smoking bans. We even have one at home but aside from a tiny impact on the heating thermostat it is carbon-neutral.


12 thoughts on “Are smoking bans an ecological disaster?

  1. You are right Scatts, BUT the idea behind the ban is that you STOP/do not start SMOKING.

    If in 10 yrs from now there will be 50% less smokers in your office, then maybe it is worth it to waste some energy now…

    Sometimes a society needs to take one step back and waste some energy if it wants to move 5 steps forward…

  2. expateek, my understanding is that it is either illegal or almost illegal in the UK. It is viewed in the same light as being on the phone while driving, i.e. distracting and potentially dangerous.

    For a fact most rental companies don’t allow it and will even charge you for ‘spring cleaning’ if they find you’ve been smoking in there.

  3. Following the smoking ban in public places in the UK, this now reaches to smoking in company cars and cars which have a licence to carry passengers (taxis etc).

    This is why you can often see people freezing their butts off on the side of the road, desperately trying to finish their cigarette so they can get back in their nice warm car!

    As a non-smoker, I find this funny – but I shouldn’t laugh at the afflicted (or is that ‘addicted’) :)

  4. An interesting post, I must say. I don’t smoke so I don’t really get the hassle feeling but what smoking bans push to these people is making them get all worked up just to get that sip of nicotine. Guess that’d work for some.

  5. This letter, from a non-smoker, refers to all anti-smoking bans.

    *An open letter that was emailed to all (103) Ontario, Canada political MPP’s in early May, 2008. No replies!

    Betrayal, Anti-Smoking Message is Like Fascism that Preys Upon Our Children

    We must not look within ourselves. We may discover what we are becoming!

    Moral judgement is the mirror, mirror, on the wall image, always lurking in our mind, like an alter-conscience, prepared to reveal the frightening truth, in our soul, such as the undeserved vengefulness, at any cost, wielded against smokers. Even betrayal, of the next generation, becomes palatable within self-betrayal.

    This remorseless mental/emotional preying upon, our precious children, recklessly poisons their mind and spirit, under the government’s pernicious slogan “health and safety.”

    By supporting anti-smoking, we endorse and promote Fascism, an historically proven scurvy upon humanity!

    The inevitable shame, of our past actions, can still be averted, by rescinding this government agenda!

    The most”dangerous smoke” comes not from cigarettes, instead from the government smoke screen to obscure from view, that the real issue is Capitalism and science versus Fascism and politicized environmentalism, not ‘health and safety.’

    Science and politicized environmentalism are colliding worlds, science being the height of pursuing truth, politicized environmentalism the depth of distorting truth. Anti-smoking is part of politicized environmentalism and the attempted foundation of Fascism!

    Do we therefore side with Capitalism, science, Second World War troops and our allies– honour; or do we side with Fascism, politicized environmentalism, our enemies of the Second World War– disgrace? Thus far we blindly follow our enemies and disgrace!

    From the mouth of Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace, “It doesn’t matter what is true; it only matters what people believe is true…..You are what the media define you to be. Greenpeace became a myth and a myth-generating machine.” We deserve truth, not half-truths and propaganda!

    For any high ranking government official that lack this critical knowledge, they are in their office under false pretenses. They are unprepared to govern. Their present course of anti-smoking legislations is the proof of that statement.

    In the words of Psychotherapist Nathaniel Branden, “I was acutely conscious of the pressure to ‘adapt’ and to absorb the values of the ‘tribe’—family, community and culture. It seemed to me that what was asked was the surrender of my judgement and also my conviction that my life and what I made of it was of the highest possible value. I saw my contemporaries surrendering and losing their fire. Why was growing up equated with giving up?”

    Philosopher/Novelist Ayn Rand wrote, “If some demagogue were to offer us, as a guiding creed, the following tenets: that statistics should be substituted for truth, vote-counting for principles, numbers for rights, and public polls for morality–that pragmatic, range-of-the-moment expediency should be the criterion of a country’s interests, and that the number of its adherents should be the criterion of an idea’s truth or falsehood–that any desire of any nature whatsoever should be accepted as a valid claim, provided it is held by a sufficient number of people–that a majority may do anything it pleases to a minority–in short, gang rule and mob rule–if a demagogue were to offer it, he would not get very far. Yet all of it is contained in–and camouflaged by–the notion of ‘Government by Consensus.”

    ‘Rule by Consensus,’ (Rule by health care pressure group) is todays’ anti-ideology in government. Appeasement of these power-lusting, health care pressure groups is of higher priority than our children and all other tax payers, voters, and citizens. The permeating emotion from ‘Rule by Consensus’ is demoralizing, debilitating fear instead of an optimistic view of the future.

    Note this recent example, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said he wouldn’t entertain a ban (smoking in cars with children) because it amounts to “too much intrusion into people’s private lives.” The logical interpretation of this statement is that the entire anti-smoking movement eliminates smoker’s individual rights, and has always been an intrusion into a smoker’s family dynamic. Now, the Ontario government is prepared, in predictable flip-flop fashion, to enact such a ban.

    In ignobility, many people have misaligned themself with politicized environmentalism, despite the fact that 1930’s, 1940’s, Germany used “politicized ecology and public health” to base its rationalizations. Are we predisposed to mistakenly mirror the historic footsteps of self-loathing mass destruction? No! Everyone has an individual mind and conscience, above party politics. Be true to them, follow your courage (truth) and dethrone your fear (fallacy). Rescind this government’s shameful anti-smoking agenda.


    Paul Watson – Environmental Overkill, (Whatever happened to common sense) – book
    Psychotherapist Nathaniel Branden, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem – book
    Ayn Rand – Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal – book

  6. Smoking bans are an economic and moral disaster or an ecological distortion!

    Government Will Make Smokers, Children, Families, Sick

    Government’s that foster anti-smoking policies lead the real health epidemic, government interference. They are not using science as their competent guide into the future. Instead they use the deep festering envy of politicized environmentalists (those unable to compete on a level playing field) to revisit remnants of the dark ages. The profound statement of philosopher/novelist Ayn Rand echoes the truth that smothers us, “Today, we live in the age of envy.”

    I am a life-long non-smoker, who has lost the four most precious people in my life. Cancer was the effect, a consequence, but not the cause. Yet, I will not help to propagandize health into dictatorial policy through anti-smoking. I do not wish to repeat the 1930’s, 1940’s. Do you?

    Exactly how can our government “create a healthier society for all” when they betray the smoker’s sense of trust, demoralize their self-confidence, disrupt their employer-employee relationships, upheave their family life, and undermind their efficacy by alienating them from their own human nature?

    This destructive mind/body dichotomy will subject smoker’s to long-term emotional and mental disorders, thus leading to serious physical ailments. In reality, our government is making them sick.

    A particularily foreboding feature of the mind/body dichotomy is the government’s suffocating negative influence while aggressively restricting young people from making their own decisions.

    Government aggression will severely jeopardize each young person’s struggle to form a necessary sense of self-confidence. This fragile process is usually a traumatic experience, especially when that negative influence is hidden under the misconception of government benevolence.

    In reality, our government lacks the knowledge of the trigger mechanism that sets off most cancers or most other major diseases to then become a critical danger for human beings. It is not smoking, nor second-hand smoke. Then why does government pathetically use smoker’s as their scapegoat, perhaps they require an example in order to intimidate other industries?

    Chicken Littleism is no longer a silly joke. It is now a snarling threat. Stamp out politicized environmentalism, not smokers.

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