Inside Track by Katherine Rose
Security issues for hospitality companies used to mean protection for the venue from customers in advanced states of refreshment - now the trend is towards customers being protected from the venue. Legislation concerning smoking, intake of fat, drinking and gambling is either in consultation, being trialed or mooted, ensuring that, should we venture away from our cheap supermarket-stocked fridges, we run no serious health risks from our local pub or restaurant. All this movement towards protection implies that the customer, far from always being right, is incapable of making informed decisions for themselves. Smokers have known for some time now that what they do is no good for them. It is right that those who can’t make an informed choice, such as children, be protected from smoke, but for those prepared to take the risk, pay the tax, even sit on their own in a corner, surely should be allowed to make their own choices. One New York-based smoking acquaintance of mine pointed out that all the smoking ban was doing was creating a hardened underclass of smoker, people who, forced outside in all weathers, were hardier than non-smokers who were able to spend their winters indoors. The thought of an army of street-toughened smokers, marching zombie-like on City Hall is something that may start to keep Mayor Bloomberg awake at night. Concerns over changes to licensing laws have provoked mixed reaction, not least within the government itself. Thoughts are divided between the fear that, allowed to drink 24 hours a day, people will forgo work, sleep and family life to drink around the clock and the urge for a more continental attitude, where alcohol is part of life, not a way of life. Perhaps legislators should look closer to home for inspiration. As any parent or teenager will tell you, if you treat people like children, they will act like children.