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NEWS SHORT:
About cigarettes, cigars and pipe smokers
The Sunday Times - Scotland
March 19, 2006
THE TOBACCONIST Alan D Myerthall may be a tobacconist but, oddly enough, he doesn?t view the smoking ban as a wholesale disaster...

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About cigarettes, cigars and pipe smokers


THE TOBACCONIST Alan D Myerthall may be a tobacconist but, oddly enough, he doesn’t view the smoking ban as a wholesale disaster. "If I never sold another packet of cigarettes in my life it wouldn’t bother me one iota," he says. Myerthall has run the aficionados-only Pipeshop on Edinburgh’s Leith Walk for 34 years, a spell in which he has developed his own brand of smokers’ apartheid: pipes and cigars good; cigarettes bad. He says profit on a packet of cigarettes is non-existent, though it’s the conflation of categories that bothers him most — cigarette smokers inhale, he points out, while pipe and cigar users puff. "I hate it when smokers are talked about as if they’re all the same thing," he says. "They’re completely different. It’s unfair for us to be lumped in with cigarette smokers." The smoking ban will mean Myerthall will be unable to let customers test various kinds of pipe tobacco in the shop; instead they will be obliged to stand beneath the awning outside. But he doesn’t anticipate that the ban will hurt his business particularly. Cigars and pipes are principally domestic preferences, added to which he has a thriving mail-order business, delivering products worldwide. He complains, though, that his taxes are spent on advertising campaigns promoting the "unproven" claim that passive smoking kills. "I mean, nobody claims smoking is good for your health but have these people never heard of opening a window?" he says. "There is such a thing as freedom of choice." Myerthall has also installed an ashtray outside his shop after one customer dropped a cigarette butt on the pavement before entering and was fined £50 for littering. For his own part, the ban will barely touch Myerthall; he limits himself to one cigar a day, smoked at night when he returns to the privacy of his own home. "Cuban or Nicaraguan," he says. "No Hamlets or any of that rubbish, nothing cheap. Spend around £10 on a cigar and you should be fine." THE PIPE LOVER Ever the man of affairs, Donald Findlay — famously a pipe man but also a cigar smoker — will be responding to the ban with typically legalistic logical rigour. "When it comes to restaurants," says the colourful QC, "I just won’t bloody go, or I’ll go to a restaurant in England. I am not going to stand outside a restaurant smoking; it’s unthinkable. As for drinking, if a pub does not make an effort to accommodate me in this respect, with heated sheltered areas, I will not give it my custom. Simple as that." Findlay is sufficiently aggrieved by the ban to consider launching a campaign against passive drinking. No working days have ever been lost to passive smoking, he says, nor is it implicated in domestic violence or car accidents, three areas in which alcohol is traditionally a significant factor. "If this smoking ban truly is health-driven, as Mr McConnell says, it follows that there can be no case against restricting sales of alcohol." But of course, he adds, the smoking ban has nothing to do with health. The executive, Findlay believes, is currying favour with the majority by restricting the rights of an unpopular minority. "It was clear from the start," he says. "The consultative process was a farce. From the outset it was obvious that smoking in enclosed spaces was going to be banned, without compromise. It is appallingly restrictive and prejudicial. It is turning people like me into second-class citizens. "If I were to smoke in a pub, be fined and refused to pay the fine, I would be jailed. But I could smoke in the police car that took me to prison and then in the prison itself. It’s soft-headed trendiness at its worst. And if the executive wants to treat me like a second-class citizen that’s how I’ll react. Whenever I travel I always encourage people to visit Scotland, as Mr McConnell would like us all to do. After next Sunday, I’m sad to say, I just won’t bother my backside."
 

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