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4:38pm on Monday, 2nd July, 2007:

Unintended Consequences


There was a downpour today, which flooded the squares at the university to the extent that ducks settled in them, and all because of the new laws on smoking in public.

Until July began, it was the law in England that you could smoke pretty well anywhere indoors if the owner of the establishment didn't mind. As of yesterday, though, you can't smoke indoors at any public place, which in Essex University terms means you can only smoke outside or (possibly — I haven't checked) in your own office.

That's not all, though. The university has taken the law a step further and said that not only can you not smoke indoors, but you can't smoke within 5 metres of indoors. On the whole, this is something I approve of, but it's not a rule that can just be imposed without the need for further provision. What seems to have happened is that smokers, banned from smoking within 5m of any building, have had to go into the centre of the squares to smoke. When they're done, they look for somewhere to stub them out and ... there's nowhere. All the bins with the built-in stubbers are close to the building. Consequently, the smokers just stub their cigarettes out where they were standing, then go back to work.

When it rains, all those butts get carried to the drains by the runoff water, where they clog up the grilles. Result: flooded squares.

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Copyright © 2007 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).