Tuesday, December 16, 2008

learning from the smoking ban

The smoking ban, love it or hate it, has been remarkably, unexpectedly, well-enforced. My suspicion is that the reason for this is that bars and restaurants are afraid they'll get their liquor license revoked if they allow patrons to ignore the ban, and there are just enough committed non-smokers to make them think somebody will complain. For some reason -- perhaps the same committed non-smokers -- there also appears to be no feeling that all they'll need to do is spread some money around the among the investigating officers if the police do get involved.

I have been pretty stunned by the success of the ban, frankly. I figured it would be like the periodical crackdowns on speeding or drunk driving -- a two-week binge, soon to be forgotten as everybody got back to their usual habits. Not so.

I wonder if there's anything to be learned here for other enforcement / implementation problems. If making the violator premises -- rather than the actual violator -- pay (the liquor license issue) is what makes the scheme work, can the same thing be applied to something like illegal dairies (the root of the stray cattle problem)? Littering (which is apparently the govt's next target)? Perhaps if residents and resident associations are made liable for fines, they'll be able to police behavior themselves? It sounds ridiculous, but it works for the bars and restaurants.... I've never seen anybody light up and just tell the waiter to get lost if he said it was now against the rules, even though that's standard behavior everywhere else.

1 comment:

Perakath said...

Well said. The ban on smoking in Delhi University ran out of steam months ago. There are still ugly signs everywhere, but people smoke at will. The area is simply too big to police.

Perhaps the fear of media attention (and subsequent licence loss) contributes to the rigorous enforcement? Delhi Times being what it is, a pub caught breaking the ban would probably be front-page news.