Delighted to report that Forest is joining forces with the Manifesto Club to campaign against outdoor smoking bans.
The joint initiative is in response to calls for smoking bans in London's parks and squares and the imposition of 'voluntary' bans in outdoor areas in towns and cities including Basingstoke, Ashford and Bristol.
According to the Manifesto Club:
There are growing moves to ban smoking in outdoor areas, including playgrounds, parks, public squares, and outside buildings such as hospitals or schools. Some of these bans are led by councils, others by health authorities or private owners.
Outdoor smoking bans are rarely justified on health grounds, since smoking outdoors presents no harm to anyone aside from the smoker themselves. Instead, restrictions generally aim to 'denormalise smoking', to reduce children's 'exposure to smoking behaviours' or to pressure smokers to give up.
The Manifesto Club has monitored the "hyper-regulation of public spaces" for several years.
In 2008, at the inaugural Freedom Zone in Birmingham, we co-hosted a panel discussion, 'You Can’t Do That! The Anti-Social Regulation of Public Space'.
In 2010 we co-hosted another discussion, 'Hyper-Regulation and the Bully State', which was part of Forest's Voices of Freedom series of debates in London.
In March this year the Manifesto Club reported that:
Councils are using the 'public spaces protection order' power, contained in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, to ban activities they judge to have a 'detrimental effect' on the 'quality of life'.
Josie Appleton, director of the Manifesto Club and author of the briefing on PSPOs, said: "These powers are so broad they allow councils to ban pretty much anything. The result is a patchwork of criminal law where something is illegal in one town but not in the next, or in one street but not the next. This makes it hard for the public to know what is criminal and what is not.
"These orders will turn town and city centres into no-go zones for homeless people, buskers, old ladies feeding pigeons, or anyone else whom the council views as 'messy'."
For further information about the campaign click here, or watch this space.