On Sunday 1 July 2007, something happened in England that had never happened before - smoking was banned in virtually all enclosed public spaces and workplaces.
Well, we adapted alright – Darwin would be proud of us. Across the country the architectural landscape changed over night. Strange structures started to appear appended to pubs, offices and factories. There the great and the good could smoke without falling foul of the law.
Smoking Outdoors is a collaboration between award-winning photographer Chris Leah, writer Jez Clark and Manchester creative agency Stiff Rowlands.
Evocative photography and laid back design make Smoking Outdoors a fitting piece to document the first year of the England’s smoking ban and everything that followed. Smoking Outdoors aims to act as a snapshot of what a little bit of legislation can do to the landscape of a nation.
Photographer Chris Leah, commenting on the pictures, said: “It’s the everyday, that you just walk past and don’t even take a second look, that is at the heart of my observational work.”
Simon Rowlands of Stiff Rowland’s added: “When we saw Chris’ work the idea really came alive. We realised that only a sympathetic design eye would do justice to these humorous but slightly melancholy environments.
“We’re looking forward to seeing the shots and comments from smokers and non-smokers on the website smokingoutdoors.org.”
Despite the ban, the UK still has more than 9 million smokers who spend between £1,700 and £1,900 a year on cigarettes, and an inordinate of their social and working time stood outside doorways, huddled in makeshift shelters or within arms length of a wall-mounted ashtray.
One thing that’s certain; the legislation has given Britain a new look, one that it didn’t have just over a year ago.
But is this just another example of the government flexing its muscles and telling us what we can and can’t do? Or is it the state speaking up for the rights of the individual? It depends where you stand – inside or outside.
The 54 page, limited edition book is now available to buy online at www.smokingoutdoors.org.