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Smoking ban: please sign this petition

It took a while but we got there in the end.

With help from the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons (and a certain amount of nagging from me), the Government's e-petition website now features the following petition, proposed by Antony Worrall Thompson:

We petition the Government to review the impact of the smoking ban on pubs and clubs and consider an amendment that would give licensees the option of separate well-ventilated smoking rooms.

No disrespect to other petitioners on this subject, but I always felt that having a 'name' behind it would generate more interest. The fact that AWT runs his own pub, The Greyhound in Rotherfield Peppard near Henley, is an added bonus.

If we hit 100,000 signatures – enough to possibly generate a debate in the House of Commons – I hereby promise that Forest will organise a party at The Greyhound to mark the achievement! For the moment our goal is rather more modest: I want to get AWT's petition into the top 20 and keep it there for next twelve months. In the short term that means a minimum of 5,000 signatures.

Many people are currently on holiday so I anticipate it will be a couple of weeks before everyone is back at work and reading e-newsletters and blogposts. Nevertheless I'd like to encourage you to sign the petition now so we can develop a little momentum.

To sign AWT's petition please click here or on the image above.

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Reader Comments (39)

all done

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 14:23 | Unregistered Commentercarl

The hoops you've had to jump through to get this valid petition active is beyond belief given the numerous Mickey Mouse petitions already up and running. Not exactly a level playing field ... we need mountaineering equipment!

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 14:26 | Unregistered CommenterSmoking Hot

Fantastic news Simon. Many thanks for all your hard work.

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 15:01 | Unregistered CommenterJon

I've signed.

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 15:12 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

Done. Now all we need is 99,989 more

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 15:57 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Hmmm, l signed it too Frank and noted before l signed it we needed 99,989 more ... and still do!

Anyway of checking if your sig is actually there?

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 16:08 | Unregistered CommenterSmoking Hot

Just having a guess, smoking. Actually, it said 9 when I signed. Are we becoming a tad paranoid, maybe? Certainly cynical and with good reason.

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 16:16 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Signed, and will ask all of my friends and colleagues (smokers and non-smokers) to sign as well.

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 16:21 | Unregistered CommenterJay

The warm evenings where an al fresco smoker can be identified by the cigs on the table in front of him are ideal. Nobody gets annoyed as it's not junk mail. I pass hundreds on my daily walk back to the station. Get them done while the evenings are still warm. I'll gladly hand them out. How about putting the link to Taking Liberties on the back? Get more people reading the supportive blogs which expose statistical fraud.

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 17:28 | Unregistered CommenterJon

I have signed of course and bless one of my Twitter friends she tweeted to 1,277 of her followers.

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 17:55 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Me and my wife have just signed, 62 signatures so far. I will be informing many people
about this e-petition. Well done Simon great work you got there in the end.

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 20:12 | Unregistered CommenterGary Rogers

Congratulations on your tenacity, Simon. Signed said petition with a big fat kiss! Only 99,921 votes now needed ....

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 22:34 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

Well done, Simon. Signed. It's also very easy to add to one's Facebook account, direct from the petition itself. Let's get it out there, far and wide ...

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 22:41 | Unregistered CommenterRose W

Another signature here. Should be able to get family to sign as well.

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 22:57 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

I've told many friends and hopefully the'll pass it on, I have text many people tonight and l'ii pass it around in a few pubs I go in. Ps does anyone no what happend with Brian Binley's early day motion for the smoking ban to be revied? Many Thanks

Monday, August 22, 2011 at 23:14 | Unregistered CommenterGary Rogers

@ Frank

Nah, l dont do paranoia but definitely a cynic, :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 1:56 | Unregistered CommenterSmoking Hot

Congratulations Simon, this is a feat to be remembered! This petition has the full support of and will, therefore, be spread as far and wide and to as many people as is possible.
@ Gary Rogers: yes! The EDM did not receive enough signatures-but times are changing ;)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 6:57 | Unregistered CommenterPhil Johnson

Duly Signed !!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 7:59 | Unregistered CommenterPeter James

Thank you Phil, Love your Website.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 8:59 | Unregistered CommenterGary Rogers

89 people in your first day. A tsunami of enthusiasm eh?

On the positive side perhaps this little exercise will serve to show you how out of touch you are with public opinion. Probably not - since you still delude yourselves with the thought that your 'support the cuts' "rally" was a success. Joe Jackson might have meant something in 1977, can't you find anyone relevant to this century?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 9:02 | Unregistered Commentersimon (nsc)


From little acorns do great oak trees grow.

And what the hell has the reference to Joe Jackson got to do with anything? The fact that he was a well known musician in the past has nothing to do with his role as spokesman for those who would like to have freedom of choice in their lives. Articulating your disgust with self-righteous puritans who want everyone to conform to their orthodoxy does not require celebrity status. Anyone with a degree of intelligence can (and usually does) do it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 9:39 | Unregistered Commenternisakiman

Far more voted for Nuttall's 10 min rule bill than put their names to the EDM and even more against the proposal to ban smoking in cars with children. The EDM is no indication. As there are also MP's who have openly stated they have changed their minds, If the health Act '06 was proposed now, there would not be the same 'majority' and probably would not get through, anyway.

To Simon(nsc) I would refer you to the vote in Stony Stratford of 148-2 and the recent poll in the Sun where 55% polled for an amendment. I think it's you who should take your head out of your derriere.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 10:03 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Inclined to agree with you @nisakimin, the fact that JJ was once a musician whose two hits crept into the top 20 has no relevance to his honest views as an advocate of smoking.

And that ought to be true of AWT too, but it isn't Simon's view, and it isn't the way PR works. 'I always felt that having a 'name' behind it would generate more interest'. The reality here is it is Forest that framed the petition, and AWT's name has been used, presumably with his agreement. This is of course to get around the stipulation that it has to be individuals, not lobby groups like Forest, that create or sign the petitions. An easy condition to dodge of course - Simon could just have done it in his own name, so you have to ask why he didn't. The answer to which is perhaps that as someone paid by Forest, which is of course itself paid by the tobacco companies, such a 'private citizen' petition would lose a lot of its credibility. So what we have is the tobacco companies lobbying through a front organisation, paying (ironically) a non-smoker to persuade AWT to act in turn as a front fro a citizen's petition.

Does this matter? Probably not as the whole citizen petition idea is merely a cynical waste of public money by Tories keen to give the impression that they listen to public opinion. There is no commitment here at all: 'your e-petition could be debated in the House of Commons'. If there was any intention at all they would have given certainty that the Commons would debate the issue.

But the problem for Simon is, he can't not do this. This is about the only light in his tunnel. Unlike the Sun poll where 55% of a small percentage of all Sun readers voted in favour, this one counts. Either enough people want it sufficiently to go onto a government website and commit, or they don't. And if there aren't enough people to use this route, then the battle is probably lost once and for all.

So again - why use someone whose relevance is 35 years out of date? Your correspondents here can surely suggest contemporary people you could approach to get the thing going? But using has-beens like Jackson and AWT actually smacks of laziness, waiting for people to come to you. Get out of your narrow clique of right-wing cronies and find some people relevant to today, or the suspicion that you're only doing this because you're paid to will stick, and the cause will be lost.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 11:15 | Unregistered Commentersimon (nsc)

Re: simon(nsc) and also my earlier comment. Even before I read the recent comments I came to the conclusion that my earlier suggestion of putting a link to Taking Liberties on the back of the cards maybe isn't such a good idea. The obvious tactic of the anti tobacco lobby will be, as simon(nsc) has, to try and associate the petition with the tobacco industry. AWT is a chef, TV personality and restaurateur who is very capable of putting forward the case, making it clear he is his own man and, as far as I know, has received no money or favours from the tobacco industry.
Contrary to the impression simon(nsc) has, I remember AWT speaking out on several occasions against the ban, before he was associated with any campaigning group. Those of us who want the ban amended are nothing to do with the tobacco industry, which seems to given up with the UK. We are ordinary people who want to smoke in non residential buildings with the permission of the owner.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 11:56 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Duly signed petition to have ASH disbanded. Is there one calling for the ritual decapitation of Arnott, Pell, Sandford, Lansley, Milton, Bartlett,Hewitt et al? Thought not, pity!

BTW, Simon(nsc) The Sun prides itself on having the largest circulation. Like others, (and a growing number of MP's) it's an indication that any amendment would not be objected to by the public at large.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 13:42 | Unregistered CommenterFrank


I've obviously credited you with more intelligence than you possess. Or perhaps you're hiding it under a bushel, who knows.

"...relevance to his honest views as an advocate of smoking."

To my knowledge, Joe Jackson is not, and has never been an advocate of smoking. He is an advocate of freedom of choice. Is that too difficult a concept to absorb?

And the reason for using AWT to front the petition is that he is currently someone who is well known, and as such will attract a degree of media attention, thus bringing the existence of the petition into a wider sphere of awareness. Because, you see, it doesn't matter how worthy any petition might be, if nobody knows of its existence then nobody will sign it. Can you understand that?

"So what we have is the tobacco companies lobbying through a front organisation..."

And ASH is...? A charity...? Or would it not be more accurate to say that they are a front organisation for the pharmaceutical industry? Who of course have much to gain from their anti-smoking lobbying.

And there's nothing ironic about Simon being a non-smoker. That's like saying it's ironic that William Wilberforce was white middle class. If something is wrong, it's wrong, and you try to right it whether or not you are personally affected. That's what people who value freedom do.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 13:59 | Unregistered Commenternisakiman

Discussion on conservativehome about this petition and thr 10 most popular to date

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 14:44 | Unregistered Commentersheila

"...relevance to his honest views as an advocate of smoking."

Sounds to me like Rollo.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 14:51 | Unregistered CommenterJon

It's all very well signing AWT's petition and making a big thing of it but don't forget the other petitions, they are all on the side of getting rid of the smoking ban – and deserve consideration too. There are many people who have commented on this blog, but have they signed the other petitions?

A couple of points.

1. This petition is not the original petition that AWT put forward (that’s assuming he wrote it in the first place which I doubt) it is significantly different and much shorter.
2. This petition calls for smoking rooms, I don’t want segregated smoking rooms, I want to be able to smoke anywhere in the pub at the landlord or landlady’s discretion – not to be hidden out of sight. I would still be stigmatized.
3. If ASH had behaved in a similar fashion trying to get a petition published, we would all be crying foul, and they could easily make something of this should the petition succeed.
4. This petition is almost identical to the one put forward by Gary Rodgers.

I haven’t signed this petition because AWT doesn’t need any help – but I have signed the others because they do.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 16:17 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Lithgow

Carl, I'm sure we'd all word the petition slightly differently given the choice, but the fact is that a petition associated with a well known public figure who also fortunately happens to be able to express himself well when interviewed, has a huge advantage. The meida treats ASH like a Government Department. Not surprising, since the Government treats ASH like a Government Department. That's why ASH doesn't need a petition. We need all the help we can get. Watch the number of signatures go up the first time AWT's petition is mentioned on TV or radio or in a national newspaper.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 16:50 | Unregistered CommenterJon

"...AWT's petition is mentioned on TV or radio or in a national newspaper."

But don't bother to look for it in the Guardian or the BBC. This is a non-PC petition, so the left-wing media will studiously ignore it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 17:42 | Unregistered Commenternisakiman

I am a little confused here. No sooner has the petition been submitted (with considerable difficulty) than there are niggles. I agree absolutely with Jon that, ideally, we would wish publicans etc to be able to decide, but the really important thing - for the time being - is to get back inside. So let's get together on this and sign every petition put forward which helps us to achieve that objective!

We have to ignore 'straw men' such as the ones put up by simon (nsc). This petition has not been put forward by the Tobacco Industry nor is it supported by the Tobacco Industry. The Tobacco industry is irrelevant. The petition is supported by people who enjoy tobacco - pure and simple.

Spread the knowledge far and wide and drum up support.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 18:06 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Here is a bit of information. My wife has just signed. Initially, I used my primary email address, but her signature was not accepted because "this email address has already been used" - even though she is a different person. I therefore used my other email address and her signature was accepted.

Might be useful to know.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 18:15 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Admirable perseverance, well done. Duly signed. It will cost more, but why not put the QR Code for the e-petition on the back of the cards so that Smartphone users with a suitable app can go straight to it and sign on the digital dotted line, there and then, before alcohol purges it from memory?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 18:21 | Unregistered CommenterNeil McIntee

Signed and I'm happy to help with distributing the cards Simon. I don't think it matters whether we agree with the detailed terms of it or whether it could go further as we must all agree with its general aim. For me that is the first step to end the stigmatisation and denormalisation of lifelong smokers. We should all sign it and speak with one voice for a change.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 20:25 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

I won't believe that my signature's there until I can see it - can we not do that on the new, HMG-values-your-custom-and wants-to-hear-from-you site?

simon(nsc) or (wat) or whatever - if you insist on gatecrashing the party, at least bring something worthwhile to the table.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 21:27 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

Great blog Simon.

I do think however that you should provide links to all the relevant petitions calling on the government to look again at the smoking ban, isn't that what Forest is all about?

Just pushing one petition to the exclusion of the others who are fighting for the same cause isn't fair on those that have made the effort to get their petition accepted. If you can vote for one - then you can vote for all four.

Would it be wrong to help all four petitions succeed?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 21:31 | Unregistered CommenterDave Litton

Links to other petitions in this post

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 22:58 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

AWT e-petition up to 393 looking good.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 9:13 | Unregistered CommenterGary Rogers

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