They’ve banned smoking in bars and pubs in Scotland—good for them—but now they government is attacking an older and more beloved Scottish tradition: buying rounds of drinks for your friends.
Round-buying is a cherished tradition throughout Britain and in Ireland, but it’s only in Scotland that lawmakers are trying to end the ritual.
From the most glamorous bars to seedy spit-and-sawdust pubs, drinking alcohol is a Scottish pastime that ranks in importance alongside soccer, history, politics and meat pies. The ritual of the round ranks among the worlds most hazardous etiquette exchanges and can be as fraught as a first business meeting in Japan or courting Sicilian style.
Each round must be honored and reciprocated as a symbol of bonhomie, generosity and swagger….
The Scottish government’s dilemma is clear. Drinking is big business in Scotland with breweries and scotch whisky distilleries making a major contribution to the 11 billion pounds (US$20.6 million (euro16.09 million) in taxes. The drinks and hospitality sector is the biggest employer in the country, accounting for more than 200,000 jobs.
But alcohol is also highly destructive. The number of alcohol-related deaths is rising faster in Scotland than anywhere else in Europe. Male deaths from cirrhosis of the liver have quadrupled in the last 50 years. The death rate for women has trebled in the same period.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Glasgow, but I don’t think I could live there—I just don’t have the constitution (or the liver) for it. Bars are everywhere, and they’re always packed. In Scotland you either develop a very high tolerance for booze or you don’t go out drinking at all. There’s no such thing as one or two drinks—if you step in a bar, you’re going to be out drinking for the rest of the night.
In other bar news, you can still smoke in bars in Chicago, which makes bars in Chicago extremely unpleasant.