A modest proposal
There will be a demonstration today organised by Hong Kong bar owners who want to delay the ban on smoking that is set to take effect on July 1. That's wonderful, but they really don't go far enough.
The bar owners are concerned they will lose money but they should use more imagination. Bull-baiting, cock-fighting and holding criminals in stocks while they could be pelted with projectiles all used to be part of the bar-room scene - and they should all be reintroduced to save the owners from penury. Never mind that people and animals suffered as a result of these practices; that's not the point. They made money for bar entrepreneurs and that's all that counts. But why stop there?
The drink-driving laws must be repealed and drivers encouraged to drink themselves silly. It's true that more accidents would ensue but the bars' cash registers would be ringing off the counter. Weak-kneed legislators should not be able to spoil the fun by protecting smokers and others from the deadly chemicals in cigarettes.
In 1727, Anglo-Irish satirist Jonathan Swift suggested that the Irish poor should relieve their situation by selling their children to the rich as food. We need thinking like that here. Smoking should be compulsory in bars and teenagers should be forced to spend their pocket money on whisky. Maybe that would make the bar owners happy.