My role


When the fog clears

Who'd have ever thought that Ireland would be the first European country to ban smoking in its pubs? Dr Ian Banks, our doctor in the (public) house, reflects on some strange goings-on.


Dr Ian BanksSomething very strange was going on as I walked into the Kilkenny Bar, Ireland. Drinkers lined up against the huge plank of elbow polished timber as you would expect of any Irish pub. Over their heads a TV presenter gave racing results for anyone to lip-read. Pints of dark beer guaranteed to cure anaemia sat in rows. Glasses hung from the underside of the roof like translucent haemorrhoids. Even so, I felt a sort of acrophobia not usually experienced in this part of the World.

Realisation came and I slapped my head, not sensible when holding a large Jameson whiskey. 'Of course, I can actually see the far side of the room'. More to the point I could breath without the use of an oxygen enricher.

A more pleasant part of my job involves giving talks at 8 o'clock in the evening to Irish pharmacists. As Ireland is officially the best place in the World to live it must defacto be the ideal place to give lectures. This only applies if you can get hold of a second hand liver as Irish chemists err on the side of better hospitality. Kilkenny is a fair sized town with roughly the same number of souls as Freemantle gaol where most of their ancestors lived courtesy of Her Majesty's Government. Following 'Pharma Sutra; a pharmacological look at what makes the World go round', I'd accompanied Ned Kelly's children out to the pubs.

No smoke.

It was like being in Victorian London and being able to see Jack the Ripper. Which brings me to John Reid. What a missed opportunity. What a misplaced belief in so-called freedom. But what is that belief? The 'war against terror' provoked the most restrictive measures ever imposed by a British government. Recently a national newspaper published pictures of every soldier killed in Iraq. A similar exercise for every individual  killed by smoking would require every inch of remaining forest on the planet and then some. Something very strange is going on.

Dr Ian Banks is president of the Men's Health Forum and best-selling author, writing here in a personal capacity.

Page created on December 1st, 2004

Page updated on December 1st, 2009