Prague must wait, I have an article to write
Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 13:47
Simon Clark

Damn. I was supposed to fly to Prague this week for Tabexpo 2011. I was looking forward to it too. I've never been to Prague.

I couldn't go yesterday, obviously, which meant that I missed the keynote speech by John O'Sullivan, a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher. I also missed last night's welcome dinner.

I was still hoping to catch a 7.00am flight from Heathrow this morning or, failing that, a late afternoon flight.

Instead I've been doing more interviews about smoking in cars as well as writing an article for the Huffington Post which I have almost finished. Towards the end I ask the question 'Why is the BMA calling for a comprehensive ban on smoking in cars?'. I then speculate as follows:

My view, for what it’s worth, is that it’s tactical. The BMA’s declaration coincides with the second reading of Labour MP Alex Cunningham’s Private Members’ Bill which calls for a ban on smoking in private vehicles when children are present. It’s listed to be debated on Friday 25 November.

The BMA has possibly worked out that by calling for more extreme action, the coalition government may see a ban on smoking in cars with children as a reasonable compromise.

I may be right because, unknown to me (I have only just read it), the Huffington Post this morning published a piece by Dame Helena Shovelton, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, entitled Calls for a Ban on Smoking in Cars Are Welcome, but Action on Children Is Needed Now. (I assume that my article is intended to be a companion piece.)

As we know (and I respect them for it), the tobacco control industry is very well coordinated. Alex Cunningham, the BMA and the BLF are not working in splendid isolation. They will be working together, I'm sure, and privately they will all be singing from the same hymnsheet. First, a ban on smoking in cars with children, then a ban on smoking in all private vehicles.

By calling for the latter now the BMA is trying to make a ban on smoking in cars with children appear more liberal. They will be delighted with that, believe me, because they know that, after that, a ban on smoking in all vehicles is only a matter of time.

The police will see to that, I'm sure, on the grounds that it is difficult to see whether there is a child in a moving vehicle without stopping it. Far easier, they will argue, if ALL vehicles are no-smoking.

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