Dick Puddlecote has written a superb post about the drop in crime seen in the Isle of Man since it opened Europe's first non-smoking prison. The crime rate fell by 14%, with burglaries dropping by 35% and assaults by 25%. Whether or not this represents a causal relationship is open to debate. It would be interesting to see whether those parts of America which have banned smoking in prisons have seen a similar decline.
Whatever the truth, it is extraordinary that the media is happy to attribute a 14% drop in the crime rate to the smoking ban, just as they are happy to attribute a 2% fall in heart attacks to the smoking ban, but only mention the smoking ban as a footnote when reporting the 1,300% increase in pub closures (4 a week in 2006, 52 a week in 2009).
And as Dick argues with impeccable logic, if criminals really do fear not being able to smoke more than they fear prison itself, what chance do publicans have of getting smokers to enter their premises of their free will?
If potential criminals are making life changing decisions to avoid being forced somewhere in which they can't smoke, is it so very difficult to accept that pubgoers can be easily discouraged from voluntarily entering premises, for the same reason?