Why Have Smoking Bans Caught On So Easily?

Even in Ireland and Italy? And why, meanwhile, are bans on things like file-sharing failing so miserably? Henry Farrell at the Crooked Timber blog argues that smoking bans succeed in large part because prevailing societal norms about smoking — e.g. “That Irish people can smoke in pubs to their hearts’ content, and that others will just have to put up with it” — were much weaker than we thought. After all, he writes, “state enforcement capacities are obviously insufficient to push something like this through.” [%comments]


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  1. ... says:

    Isn’t it because a smoking ban is easy to enforce, you can obviously see someone smoking and write them a ticket or whatever for it, but “catching” someone downloading is much harder and pretty much impossible to prove it was one person when it could be someone else using their computer. It’s like enforcing a law to not videotape a show that’s on tv at people’s homes, good luck with that.

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  2. David D says:

    Also, those of us who have never wanted cigarette smoke suddenly realized our number is legion. Now we are the intimidating force which brooks no argument. Before this, it was the army of smokers.

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  3. Russ says:

    Smokers were the loudest complainers about the ban when it first took place here in NJ. Non-smokers were not as vociferous because smoking had always been allowed. Once the ban took place I think more people enjoy the smoke free bars than there are smokers who have to go outside for their fix. (plus there is now a social aspect for the outside smokers as they are forced to meet other smokers)

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  4. ScottK says:

    Maybe it’s because file sharing doesn’t get into the lungs and clothing of the people surrounding you.

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  5. gattrell says:

    Maybe it is just that it is a noxious, stinking, costly, deadly habit and there are more non-smokers than smokers.

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  6. DNS says:

    The negative effects of file-sharing are abstract and indirect. The negative effects of cigarette smoke, on the other hand, are immediately obvious for anyone who dislikes smoke and has entered a smoking restaurant.

    It’s significantly easier to get support for something that affects people on a personal level.

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  7. Will C says:

    Don’t forget that people can easily see those breaking a smoking ban (and it only takes one to report), while file sharing is largely done invisibly. The likelihood of being caught is drastically different.

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  8. JeffI says:

    As a smoker, I understand why non-smokers want smoke free places, that’s great, that’s cool, no problem. But why can’t an establishment be created to cater just to us smokers? That’s where i think the smoking bans go too far.

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