ithink comment – smoking ban – environmental timebomb?

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The smoking ban has occasioned much debate from both the pro- and anti- camps, but now it seems that the new law could also lead to an unexpected environmental backlash.

A recent survey by British Gas asserts that the average gas-fired patio heater emits more CO2 per year than a Range Rover and the sudden upsurge in patio heaters, used to warm determined smokers who flock outside pubs for their much-needed cigarette breaks, could be drastically harming the environment.

Based on the usage of patio heaters in Scotland post its smoking ban in March 2006, British Gas estimates that now the whole of the UK is smoke-free patio heaters in pubs will emit up to 160,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

According to Darren Johnson – Green Party member of the London assembly “each patio heater generates 2.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide on average per year – the equivalent to driving a car for over 6,000 miles”. In layman’s terms, some claim that patio heaters installed in pubs could produce as much carbon dioxide as a small city.

So what’s the alternative? Should the hardened smoker simply have to reach for another jumper, as the Lib Dem environmental spokesman Normal Baker has suggested? Or are these figures just a massive case of over-inflated scaremongering?

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