How many weeks after a smoking ban is implemented does it take before the wrath of the smokers results in violence? The answer is three.
A trio of men at a south-west London club were seen fleeing the scene after James Oyebola, a former British heavyweight boxer, was shot in the head and leg. Oyebola, 47, had confronted the men about smoking at the club, Chateau 6 in Fulham Road. He was taken to hospital in the early hours of Monday morning where he remains critically ill.
The boxer's former manager, Frank Maloney, called him a "gentle giant" and said he was devestated at the news. The incident has been turned over to Operation Trident, the unit responsible for investigating gun crime in the black community.
While we doubt that the shooting was really a direct result of some lads about town being told not to smoke and had more to do with the violent nature of the perpetrators, it hardly seems surprising that there would be a backlash sooner or later. When New York City instituted its ban in March 2003, a similar incident occurred when a club bouncer ordered two men to put out their cigarettes — surprise, surprise! — about three weeks after the ban was instituted. Dana Blake, 32, was stabbed in the stomach and died from his wounds in hospital.
In trying to figure out why three weeks seems to be the magic number for cigarette-denied rage, we hypothesise that this is when the novelty factor of being around clean air starts to wear off, or when the nicotine fits start to really kick in. That, combined with the crap weather lately and a lack of adequate spaces for smokers to congregate in, is enough to make some smokers want to pull their hair out. Hair, we said. Not a gun.
As with any controversial ban, it's just a matter of waiting for things to blow over — or get colder. Come December, we'll either have a fresh batch of moaning on our hands or a lot less smokers.
Photo courtesy of Justin Shearer's Flickrstream