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« Review of the week | Main | Four years on, a town in Buckinghamshire wants to ban smoking outside »

No smokers, please, we're British

Above, the first wave of guests arrive on College Green, opposite the Houses of Parliament, for the Save Our Pubs & Clubs reception at the House of Commons on Wednesday June 29.


People think I've become disillusioned about the smoking issue but the truth is I am sinking deeper and faster into despair under the sheer weight of daily stupidity dressed up as some sort of new 'scientific report' that shows smokers must be purged from 'decent' society by any means.

This is no longer about health but hatred of people who don't want to hurt anyone else but just want to be left alone to live their lives in peace. Lifelong smokers like myself from childhood who are from a different generation and a different age when smoking was perceived differently are the most affected. In just four years because of the smoke-free law and government backing of it we have gone from being heavily taxed contributors who have kept the NHS afloat for decades to 'disgusting', 'smelly' and 'selfish' pariahs who have no right to exist and are blamed for everything from child murder to global warming.

That is why I attended the Save Our Pubs and Clubs reception at the House of Commons on Wednesday. I wanted to tell our elected representatives just how socially damaging, exclusive and downright unnecessary this social health policy is and why the time has come to redress the balance between those who can't or won't quit and those who despise them because we are standing in the way of those spiteful people who want the world in their own perfect image.

I was impressed by the number of attendees and uplifted to see so many people who feel strongly enough to make the journey from across the UK to London to visit the House of the Privileged and make their feelings known.

My own MP Karl McCartney indicated that he would have come but for “a prior engagement” and he has kindly agreed to see me at a local surgery in Lincoln today where I intend to tell him how the ban has encouraged the rise of a new phenomenon – smokerphobia.

That people can believe the alleged public health doctor who said that putting an exhaust pipe in a car is safer that smoking a cigarette in the vehicle shows how ignorant people are about the effects of smoking. They are ready to believe it because they have been taught over the last generation to hate and fear people who smoke. Evidence that the issue is now so far from removed from health is obvious by such stupid statements.

I wanted to tell any MP who was prepared to listen that the country is losing the plot over the smoking issue but I was deeply disappointed at the lack of parliamentarians at the event. I don't know how many were there as I didn't recognise any MPs other than our hosts, Greg Knight (Conservative), Roger Godsiff (Labour) and John Hemming (Lib Dem).

I spoke to Greg Knight as the person who I thought said that smokers were being penalised for a choice they made that others disagreed with – although actually I think it was the Labour MP Roger Godsiff.

As someone who began smoking at the age of eight, I asked I asked Greg how I could have consciously made a choice at that age. I did what a lot of other kids did at the time and continued into adulthood when no one had a problem with it until one was created by modern government who refused to hear both sides of the issue but put the smokerphobics at ASH into government to make public health policy.

I smoke now because I enjoy it but I cannot make an informed health choice to quit when not enough studies have been done to show what would happen to someone like me if I did. The only study that has been done on this – as far as I am aware – is the Arunachalam Kumar, Kasaragod Mallya and Jairaj Kumar study conducted at the KS Hegde Medical Academy in Mangalore, India.

They were "struck by the more than casual relationship between the appearance of lung cancer and an abrupt and recent cessation of the smoking habit in many, if not most, cases". They claim that lifelong smokers who quit increase their chances of getting terminal illness from 20 to 60 per cent. I'll stick with 20 per cent, thanks.

Greg seemed very interested to hear my story and I asked if he could arrange for me to speak at the Conservative party conference to explain to delegates why they need to start listening to us and why balance on this issue is vital if we are to avoid a social tragedy akin the the times when homosexuality was illegal, belonging to the 'wrong' religion could get you burned at the stake, and being from the 'wrong' culture could get you excluded from every public place in the UK.

We are going back to the days when it was acceptable to say 'No blacks, no Irish and no dogs' but this time legislation allows people to say 'No smokers'. Dogs are now more welcome than we are in a society that smokers helped to build until 2007.

Greg said he would if he could but that was not something in his power as the Conservative party secretary arranges such speeches. He said to mention this idea to Simon Clark who may be able to make it happen, at least by having me at one of Forest's fringe events.

I was disturbed that the House of Commons bar staff called security on us for smoking outside and angered that apparently only MPs can smoke out there because for them a blind eye is turned. I was, however, also uplifted to see the delegation of smokers at the event simply choose to ignore the bullies and carry on smoking.

It was great to catch up with some friends in the movement. I was upset to see one had become ill since our last meeting a couple of years ago but he looked remarkably well. Nick Hogan also looked great and it was fantastic to see him back on fighting form. Lou, my friend from Lincoln who has no computer and knows nothing about this cause or its characters, was anxious to meet Nick the most, such was her respect for what he did in trying to make a stand for people like us.

Dick Puddlecote, David Atherton and Charles Childe Freeman looked after Lou and me at the pub after the event and they were as always great company.

I fell in love with David Hockney for his sheer dedication to this cause and his call for a common sense approach. I am from the generation where people who have your respect are addressed by their title. MPs like Mr Knight, Mr Hemming and Mr Godsiff deserve that respect. I have only one name for those sitting in the House of Commons who make decisions based on what they hear from ASH rather than what they hear from the grassroots smokers themselves, but Simon's blog doesn't allow foul language.

I fear the pubs battle is lost. It is too late and was too late once the Conservatives and Liberals won the election. I knew that if we didn't get heard after the champagne socialists in Labour were gone then we would never be heard. Those pubs that were on our side were silenced or have now disappeared. Those that remain simply don't want us in their pubs.

The battle as I see it now is to stop smokerphobia from gaining even more ground. We must ensure that government listens to smokers. We must educate and make the media aware of how they are being manipulated and being made to look ridiculous by their acceptance of any old science by press release study, and we must get the wider public – both smoking and non-smoking – to realise what is being done to an unpopular minority for ideological reasons rather than any real concern about public health.

Smokerphobia is taking us back to science by witch doctor. It's a witch hunt and instead of real studies they are spouting mumbo jumbo nonsense simply because they can.

For all the above reasons I will be having a protest in my home town tomorrow and, if successful, I will hold it every year until the balance is redressed.

For the same reasons I will be back at the House of Commons again next year and the next, and the next, and the next, for as long at it takes.

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Reader Comments (13)

Can I also confirm that Gavin Shuker the MP for Luton South was there too. Alas he is content with the smoking ban.

Friday, July 1, 2011 at 12:58 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

I am gutted to learn that my MP, Phil Wilson had been there. Having never attended such an event before, I was unsure what to expect in relation to how exactly we would connect with each other so to speak baring in mind we have never met and no exact time was given in his reply.
I relied on recognising him from his parliamentary photo, i was round and round looking to no avail. In all honesty I did,nt really expect him to be there.
Extremely embarassed now. Mortified in fact.
Will no doubt now have to write to him again with an apology.
hangs head in shame.

Friday, July 1, 2011 at 13:34 | Unregistered Commentersheila

"Very rarely is that rule enforced (or so we were told) and more often than not a blind eye is turned to people stepping on to the terrace for a smoke."

They got the smoke police onto us and although no one was arrested, the police asked each of us to put our cigarettes out. We ignored them, partly because we were confused as to whether they meant to stop smoking outside opposite the bar area or to move further along the terrace.

My own view was that we were a smoker's delegation invited by HoC representatives, and so we had the moral right to smoke at an event asking for us to be allowed to smoke.

Friday, July 1, 2011 at 15:10 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

The police had no right whatsoever to tell you to put out your cigarettes. You did right to continue smoking. I'm surprised the cops are as brainwashed as many other so called public servants.

You were in an outside public space where it is still legal to smoke – just.

Friday, July 1, 2011 at 15:22 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Simon for organising this reception with Greg Knight, Roger Godsiff & John Hemming-the strength of feeling was clearly seen by the numbers turning up for the event.
I would like to add that Jon Ashworth (newly elected MP for Leicester South) met with myself & wife to discuss the damage being done by the ban. It was a very encouraging meeting and a further meeting will take place shortly in Leicester-14 Leicester pubs, clubs & bars requested representation at the reception. A shame that Liz Kendall & Keith Vaz didn't bother themselves to get involved but we did our best. Thank you for the opportunity Simon.
Phil Johnson

Friday, July 1, 2011 at 19:51 | Unregistered CommenterPhil Johnson

An excellent post, Pat.

I cannot isolate the quote at this moment, but I saw it. The quote from an MP was something like, " I agree that the ban is over the top, but... ....sorry.........that is the policy".

That statement, from an MP, is HORRIFIC. It implies that the sole purpose of MPs is to condone policy. But is not that the anti-thesis of the 'raison d'etre' of MPs?

I cannot help but feel that this is precisely what is wrong with our democracy. MPs should not condone 'policy'. Their duty is the opposite - their duty is to seriously question policy. That is their 'raison d'etre'. I feel sure that other people who are more knowledgeable than I am can elaborate upon that thought.

In a very general sense, the smoking ban has been efficacious in helping us to see what democracy is really about. Democracy does not mean that every issue depends upon the wishes of every person, since it is quite possible that vast numbers of people do not know the facts and do not understand the consequences. We rely upon our politicians to understand these things - that is why we elect them. If they cannot be bothered, then they are useless. if they cannot be bothered, then it does not matter what Party then belong to - they are useless.

There is a problem. The vast majority of young people do not understand these things. But young people are not allowed to be educated about these things in schools. I believe that there is a deliberate political policy not to teach young people about politics - and yet, what could be more important in their lives?

Saturday, July 2, 2011 at 3:13 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Thanks, Phil, and thanks to everyone who made the effort to come.

Saturday, July 2, 2011 at 9:40 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

As a lifelong non-smoker I have been fighting the battle for some 7 years now. On Wednesday, I was in conversation with an aspiring politician of a Libertarian mindset who suggested to me that we should accept the SHS risks and then we would ger the eras of those within Westminster. He was told exactly what he could do with his thoughts that I was not into lying unlike the health activists. This further cemented my views that there is not likely to be a political solution to the task of returning Choice to our hospitality sector as it appears that most of those elected by us have been brainwashed by Big Pharma spin be it tobacco, alcohol or food.

We still have a Legal Challenge ongoing here in the UK, now reaching its fourth aniversary it is at Appeal in the High Courts for onward processing to the Supreme Courts for a Judicial Review and at this time presents the only real hope of early ammendments to unnecesary legislation.

Saturday, July 2, 2011 at 14:22 | Unregistered CommenterBill Gibson

@ Bill - Can you give us more detail about this legal challenge.
What legal challenge is this.

Do you have any links. Thanks.

Saturday, July 2, 2011 at 16:16 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

I did my contribution with a post about David Hockney. I'm smoker but even if I wasn't I hate to be indoctrinated and it's ridiculous all the harms they are campaigning.
As you said it became a moral issue.
I don't like alcohol and even the smell of beer is not pleasant for me but I go to "drink" with my friends.
They don't care about our health. At my other blog, about medicine prescribing drugs that are destroying people's life and even killing, I have all the data to be sure that governments, lawmakers, physicians, FDA/MHRA, physicians, don't think about people's health.
I'm Brazilian. It's the same here. We cannot smoke anywhere.
Congratulations for the blog. Few people have the energy to tell the truth.

Saturday, July 2, 2011 at 19:32 | Unregistered CommenterAna

Pat very good, I no my MP Gareth Johnson for Dartford will support any
change in the smoking ban. fortunately he won't need much convincing
and he is aware of the pubs which are now starting to close her in Dartford
we've had about four close in the last 6weeks. good luck Regards Gary.

Sunday, July 3, 2011 at 1:10 | Unregistered CommenterGary Rogers

Fortunately up here in Scotland we have the Public Petitions Committee, unfortunately they know us too well and will do everything within their powers to prevent us giving evidence as they know that they will have no defence.

Before the last Scottish Elections, Dr Richard Simpson MSP stated within correspondence to me that World Health Organisation Guidlines would be adhered to in policy making decisions so lets test his claim. WHO stated recently that scientific evidence must be used when dealing with Tobacco within a statement made to Tobacco Control Advocates to distance themselves from Big Pharma.

We have the scientific evidence, we have medern technology and we tell the truth ...

We do not subscribe to the views of the CIU of "Tell us what to do ... we will do it" as stated by Mick McGlasham last Wednesday no we are more aligned to "We pay the wages ... this is what needs to be done"

Bring on the new session in Parliament ... let battle commence, Nice Guys never win when up against the bully mob.

Sunday, July 3, 2011 at 11:42 | Unregistered CommenterBill Gibson

"Dr Richard Simpson MSP stated within correspondence to me that World Health Organisation Guidlines would be adhered to in policy making decisions"

Ah, getting nearer to the truth. Small, insignificant country wants to prove itself a loyal follower of the great and the good and hopes the nasty people will smile at them.

Monday, July 4, 2011 at 8:10 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

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