You have to wonder how health minister Ab Klink is going to cope with the growing defiance to the ban on smoking in cafes and bars.
The ban was introduced in July, but it’s only now that the weather is turning colder that it’s really beginning to bite – smokers don’t find it quite so much fun sitting on a cafe terrace in the pouring rain and wind.
So bar owners all over the country are bringing back the ashtrays. And you can understand it. If everyone flocks to the one bar that does allow smoking, the others are going to do everything they can to get their customers back.
So far Klink’s defence of the law has been ineffective to say the least. At first he denied there was a widespread defiance of the ban. Then he said there would be no more warnings for offenders.
This was followed by mutterings about a shortage of inspectors. And finally, after being repeatedly asked to take action to ensure fair competition, he has agreed to meet the catering trade to discuss the problems.
Klink is the minister and it is about time he showed defiant cafe and bar owners who is in charge. He’s not going to win any friends among smokers by clamping down on those who are deliberately flouting the law. But at the moment the law, and Klink himself, are being made to look foolish.
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